Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky & Bethany Stephenson
Today’s era of Electronic Music and Hip Hop can be very convoluted with all the sub genres that conjure from today’s contemporary run-of-the-mill artists. It’s a big industry with a persistent rise of up-and-comers from platforms like SoundCloud, DatPiff and those alike. While those platforms remain true to form, it’s hard to stand out from this massive crowd. But every now and then you run into one of those rare gems that truly is a standout of their caliber. And a shining example of this gem is Pittsburgh-based Electronic DJ and Producer Ples Jones with his latest LP “Sounds Of The Mind”.
As the title suggests and perhaps putting one of the freshest takes on today’s Electronic Music standard, Jones comes out swinging on every track of this album and brilliantly showcases his versatile craft by setting a nostalgic tone to his signature Chillhop sound. Specializing in R&B and House music, Jones conjures a refreshing vibe to the table that dynamically puts his skillset to the forefront with exceptional precision and authenticity. He’s been honing his craft behind the mixing board for 15 years, touching on his love for Jazz and Soulful R&B additives to a very addictive Hip Hop sound that is reminiscent with yesterday and today’s more elite producers.
“Sounds Of The Mind” really sets the perfect nostalgic tone in consistency and never waivers from the nostalgic flow Jones brings to each track with his clever production techniques and versatile compositions. With tracks like “Alonzo’s Groove”, “Apologia” and “Bleu Light” to kick this record off, you immediately get a grasp on Jones‘ ability to create tracks that touch on several genre elements that blend very tastefully. The beats and rhythm sections that carry each song drives every electronic-infused melody perfectly and really delves into a craft that touches on equal parts originality and familiarity. Carrying over to “Cherish”, this track serves up a classic R&B style that really puts soul into the record. It is refreshing goodness with that perfect beat that reminds us how R&B was meant to be. The standout on this album, however, is feature-artist track “Drop”. A Hip Hop track with EDM touches that features brilliant lyrical hooks and bars from feature artist Phantom. This sweet concoction delivers an array of genre blending, vibrancy, consistency and everything in between to make this song completely unforgettable and a home run on the album.
“EmpPHATic” is a synth-driven tune that continues to drive the R&B element forward and really helps carry weight on this record with its vibrant setting and ambient flavor. “Late Nite Snack” brings us more of that nostalgic feeling this album has demonstrated from the beginning while “Married To The 90s” and “Shine” are more upbeat and animated in their execution. These four tracks in particular really give us a deep dive into the diversity of Ples Jones‘ production value and garners a dynamic quality that is rare among today’s DJs and EDM creators. The next feature-artist standout track “Quien Tiene Boca (feat. Alba Santos)” is a tasty R&B flavor with an amazing Spanish vocal delivery and soulfully crafted melody. The vocal mix on this song in particular is more than notable as it is beautifully performed. This one will get your heart fluttering. “Rise” is another female-featured track with a sound reminiscent to Sia with its own special touch. Featuring female singer Liz Cirelli, this dreamlike sequence brings new heights to the album with a sense of climax and anticipation as the track plays out. It’s brilliantly mixed, perfectly executed and adds more layers to this record while remaining consistent in the overall signature sound.
The bass and beat-driven “Santorini” is edgy and industrial with a darker tone in its delivery and fits like a glove with the predecessors on the record. “Shine (feat. Late Nite Vegas)” is the perfect subsequence that also captivates a darker tone with an upbeat flow and clever production narrative, while closing track “The Realization” brings us a synth-infused light at the end of the tunnel as a perfect album closer. Altogether, creating an innovative and creatively effective album where all the pieces fit no matter how many times you hear it.
The best thing about “Sounds Of The Mind” is the execution of each song with top of the line production value. Every track flows perfectly to the next while keeping consistency afoot with nostalgic vibes and tasteful genre blends. This album is not just recommended, it’s an absolute must-listen in its own right and demonstrates a very versatile skillset that Ples Jones showcases from beginning to end. This album has staying power with an ability to keep you coming back for more. You’ll be more than happy you gave this album a spin, and this record will definitely entice you to look deeper into Ples Jones‘ artist journey.
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