Album: Crashing (feat. Bahari) – Single
Label: Astralwerks; Nick Miller, under exclusive license to UMG Recordings, Inc.
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
This review will at best be biased towards Illenium. Through personal agony, his music has helped me push through the difficulties of life. Many others feel the same way, and the connection he makes with emotions is the reason Illenium has risen to the top of EDM, closing out festivals like Coachella. Few artists can reach into the soul and play the strings of emotion that reside in each of us. His songs – especially songs where he is the sole producer – rock the body and bring tears to the eyes, connecting with the sadness and love that everyone has experienced in life.
This song builds on that persona, even adding a new dimension as the style of the drop is unlike many of his other works. But before I get to that, let’s start with the vocalist, Bahari. Illenium has an incredible ability to find the very perfect voice for a song. Similar to Zedd’s techniques, vocals and production need to work together to fit the tone; finding the right voice is crucial in bringing out the best in a song. This suggests that sometimes the most famous vocals do not match the mood of a song and thus someone else needs to be found. Bahari is one of those vocalists. Every word line hangs in the air, given the full breath of emotion. As the song rises to the climatic drop, the pace of lyrics seems to grow and Bahari adds more desire to every phrase. The drop hits, and the raw emotion comes out as vocals ride drums and electronic strings. This rising process is repeated in the next section with all the same emotional intensity.
To me, one lyric epitomizes the song. Following the end of the first drop, Bahari sings “Hey are you really this good. Damn, are you really this good.” Focus in on that “Damn” because the blend of disbelieve and yearning expressed is the struggle of the entire song. Taking a step back, the story told through the song is stereotypical but expressed to perfection. Melding instrumentation and lyrics, each wraps around the other in an embrace few artists can replicate. From the first “intoxicating” kiss, the instrumentation underscores the story with a simple 2-bar riff looped in the background and synthesized strings adding tonal movement. At first, Bahari hints at the complicated feeling welling up inside and its irrationality. Just then, the drums and bass burst in and bring the story forward. This type of thing shouldn’t happen, doesn’t happen in the eyes of the principal character. But screw it, she thinks, take the leap because nothing feels as good as this moment. During this struggle, synthesized strings build a broader, encompassing atmosphere until they fade out to allow her conclusion to reach through the noise: “I don’t wanna go.” A cymbal rings in the next section as the other instruments return and the riser begins. Continuing on, Bahari hammers home the decision, singing “I got myself too drunk on you to drive, so I’m crashing here tonight.” Drums roll underneath the buildup until everything cuts out, leaving the vocals hanging in the air. A sub bass bellows beneath.
Then the instrumentation returns, with horns blasting on every 8thbeat. Pulsing strings and a reverbed kick drive forward, bringing steadiness to the piece. Only eight bars are played before the horns, vocal effects, and upper-end strings cut out, leaving the beat-setting kick and harmonizing low-frequency strings beneath the returning vocals for a continuity effect between the first drop and second verse. So much happens here. Strings raise and fall in the background, and as they fade away a quick guitar rift hidden behind the vocals and drums appears. This all leads into the second drop, which is nearly identical to the first.
As it ends, only the strings remain, allowing the message to push through the noise and Bahari’s full range of emotions to be heard. It was at this moment I noticed the recording and production put into Bahari’s vocals. At least three different layers can be heard. The main vocalist cuts through, but this section features a rougher, almost country-style vocal paired as well. This is just pure genius; the raw emotion of the song climaxes at this moment. Then the final riser and drop, mirroring the previous two drops.
This song is something special. No matter how many times I hear it, I find something new hidden in the emotional depths. Each instrument is chosen to play with your feelings like a cat with yarn. If you haven’t heard Illenium before, this track is a great introduction and can lead you into some other amazing musical works if you give it the opportunity.
Sounds Like: Dabin, Said the Sky, Jai Wolf, San Holo, Taska Black
Crashing (feat. Bahari): melodic and impactful, true emotion in a song, 5/5 Stars
Reviewer’s Name: Ryan Carlson
Date of Review: 2/7/19