In some of the more erudite and sophisticated songs I’ve heard in my lifetime, the instruments that are present tell us as much of a story as the singers themselves do, and after getting hooked on NoTrace’s new single “Vibrations,” I came to the decision that it definitely qualifies as a member of this elite collection of tracks. From the onset of the song, we’re hypnotized by a piano’s stoic play, which despite quickly being joined by a fiery guitar part and synthesized harmonies that slowly but surely become omnipotent in the master mix, it remains just as captivating a draw as NoTrace or his guest collaborator Glenn Travis are. Its aching tonality gives shape to their lyrics, and in the more cathartic moments of the song, it transcends the limitations of studio recording altogether.
There’s really just as much to be said about the studious percussive elements that frame the rhythm of the single and push along the jarringly heavy mix whilst NoTrace dishes out one cold verse after another. It’s studded with groove, but I don’t think that I would go as far as to say that it’s rigid in the means it lands in the grander scheme of things. To some extent, it’s a spot-on midway point between the sort of aggressiveness that this fairly boisterous composition requires to really get its point across amidst the fragility of its minimalist vibe, which complements the other instrumental components in the track marvelously. I’m not a choral director or conductor by any stretch of your imagination, but NoTrace definitely has the same dexterity that you would typically find in such a scholarly position within the music industry.
I really appreciate the fact that while NoTrace is a dominant force to be reckoned with in this single, it doesn’t feel completely built around him. In many ways, I would consider this to be more of an amalgamation of two equally talented artists coming together in the studio and hammering out something that genuinely shows off both of their creative skillsets brilliantly without either one overshadowing the other. Glenn Travis doesn’t sound like a featured performer or a guest in this song; he sounds like a legit player contributing to the mastery of the composition through his own unique texture as a vocalist.
Though it can be said that I often don’t go for mainstream hip-hop on account of its blatant and, frankly, culturally offensive commercialism, I’d have to be crazy to dismiss the boldly crafted material that NoTrace has cultivated for us in “Vibrations,” which reps his indie street cred well but doesn’t fail to impress more casual rap fans with an ear focused on Top 40 radio. So much buzz has surrounded this man in the lead up to the release of his upcoming EP this year, and from everything that I’ve sampled of his, he’s been worthy of all the attention to say the least. His story is starting to unfold, and I’m eager to see where he goes from here both as a performer and as a songwriter.