To San Francisco-based EDM musician AIR APPARENT (Neil Sethi), the concept of dreaming is fascinating. On his SoundCloud page, he admits, “i watched inception too many times so now i write and produce songs about dreams and stuff.” Dreams have since become a central topic in Sethi’s songmaking, even lending itself to the title of his latest EP, Color Dreams. Within its 7 tracks, that liminal state of mind is explored in different ways, constantly changing forms and never truly taking a solid shape. Sethi has chosen the perfect framework to describe his work–dream-like is the best way to sum up the wispy EDM melodies of Color Dreams EP.
Though Sethi may have taken artistic inspiration from Inception, the candy colored tracks on his latest EP seem a far cry from the greyscale seriousness of Nolan’s film. Instead, the songs here are booming crowd-pleasers meant to soundtrack a neon night out. Flitting in and out of trap and modern-day EDM (“Asking You,” “Too Far Gone”), there’s enough here to warrant the dreamscape that Sethi so widely admires. That’s not to mention the lyrically topical tie-ins as well: on songs like “Not Afraid,” “Tokyo,” and “Asking You”, Sethi addresses his shifting state of mind by tackling dreams with a sense of wanderlust. “Dreaming wide awake / Searching for a feeling / Making a mistake / To push and pull with you,” go the lyrics to hopeful album closer “Wide Awake.” And that’s not the only thing that Sethi covers on the EP: the songs here are tinged with a certain sadness despite their bright tones. Break-ups and relationship troubles plague the project and are brought to life by Sethi’s collaborators. EDM vocalists Krysta Youngs, Victoria Richard, Adventure Tiger, and Julia Ross all contribute sensitive feelings to each of their respective songs, giving Color Dreams EP an enveloping, multifaceted approach. The project thus becomes a wider venture, tackling an all-too relatable range of human emotion.
But although the songs here are undoubtedly engaging, at times the lyrical content of the project can be too non-descript to truly make a lasting impact. “Not Afraid” doesn’t go past the cliched platitudes of what it takes to be brave. “Do I Forget,” a misty, straightforward pop song about leaving a relationship, is ironically forgettable itself. Any additional nuance would work well with Sethi’s brand of cosmopolitan electronic pop.
However, on the album’s best song, “Sorry,” Sethi manages to do just that by hitting the festival jackpot–whipping up irresistable beats mixed with a pointed penchant for fun. A wistful, flirty song about finding love, “Sorry” is amongst Sethi’s best. Although it’s more understated than ground-shaking songs like “Asking You,” “Sorry” leaves room for experimentation in between the lines. Paired with a very fun syllabic breakdown (the word “sorry” gets morphed into different sonic forms), vocalist Krysta Youngs’s harmonies capture your attention from the start. As she sings about young love, there’s a happiness that emanates from within that make it hard to ignore. “It’s like no one ever hurt me / Now that I’m not lonely / Cause you make me forget I could be sorry,” she divulges. Here, there’s more than just straightforward confessions.
Taken as a whole, Color Dreams EP is a definitive crowd-pleaser for many an EDM fan. Between the twinkling beats and the starry vocalists, Color Dreams EP will undoubtedly transport you to Sethi’s kaleidoscopic dream world.
Color Dreams EP is out now via Pug Life Records.
Li-Wei Chu is a recent graduate from UC Davis who majored in Cinema and Digital Media who also briefly studied film at Queen Mary, University of London. Li-Wei is obsessed with horror films (especially the ones that give him nightmares), films from East Asia, and really, any film that makes you stop and think.
He loves talking about film and indie music with others. He’s also a record collector and cross-stitches when he has free time. In the future, he hopes to be able to write about film and wants to find a job in the film industry that can support his record buying habits. Maybe one day he’ll also be able to play the guitar.