A Review of Foobar’s Debut EP, Dusk To Dawn

Access to information and music has become an extremely facile task in our present day and age. Whereas decades ago one would have to spend hard-earned cash to purchase records in order to listen to music, nowadays a mere click of a button provides everything from artistically intriguing pieces, to unlistenable cacophonies. Montreal-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Foobar’s debut EP, Dusk to Dawn, solidly falls within the former category.

What is quickly striking about the EP is Foobar’s meticulous usage of the synthesizer throughout, which allows him to obtain atmospheric 80s-style electro and synthpop sounds reminiscent of Lazerhawk or Miami Nights 1984, as well as drooping bass that add a lot to the overall sound. Another characteristic of the EP is the fact that, bar from one, each track is a collaboration with several promising up-and-coming artists, who tackle numerous different issues.

The opening track, 6PM in Abu Dhabi, kicks off the album on a strong note, as it features Lebanese-born rapper J.Keen whose blistering rapping prowess is backed by Foobar masterfully toying with the synthesizer. The track captures the ‘disturbing exceedingly rich/desperately poor’ dichotomy currently prevalent all over the world, and in Beirut in particular where J.Keen hails from. The sentence “[…] celebrity life and refugees, […] you’re living with ease, compared to those begging please while the others are just saying cheese; I’m stuck in the middle of both because I’m from the Paris of the Middle East” strikes a chord with anyone who has ever lived in a situation of absurdity whereby scenes of misery and despair are merely a few minutes away from instances of opulent displays of glitter; an absurd existence that has come to characterize inhabitants of “the Paris of the Middle East”. Faced with this desultory situation, one can “live and grow” through music, as J.Keen captures it.

The second track, August, features a far more laid back feel. London-based vocalist Tay Salem provides his slightly ghastly vocals, giving the track a solid mix of R&B and 80s-inspired electronic synth-laden atmosphere. Foobar shines on in the latter half of the song with humble licks on the synth.

What follows is Renee’s Interlude, featuring Canadian jazz singer Renee Yoxon. Her powerful and gripping voice, and the calm mood throughout makes this track a real treat. The song appears to be a lament about how vacuous love has become in the increasingly fast-paced and judgmental existence of the present day. Lyrics such as “how long can we make this moment last, we’re moving slow but time is moving fast, and I don’t wanna know what the clock says on the radio” and “we’re alone now, prying eyes are on the other side” portray a vivid, if slightly melancholic, depiction of what it’s like to love today.

The fourth track, Illini 393, is the only track that is not a collaboration with another artist. Slightly heavier than the laid back predecessors, it is an instrumental that neatly falls after the calmer but vocally powerful Renee’s Interlude. Foobar makes full usage of the atmospheric 80s electro synthpop elements that have been prevalent across the EP (given a new lease on life by the music of Netflix’s Stranger Things, among others). Though not a weak track, the song however does appear slightly monotonous given the lack of a bridge, an instrumental break, solos, or complementing licks here and there, which Foobar could easily incorporate given his instrumental prowess shown on August.

The EP ends with 6AM in Orlando, featuring rapper Vex. It bears slight similarities to the opener, namely through the fact that both are rap tracks painting portrays of cities which, though would appear very different at first glance, are somewhat alike in certain ways. Vex’s lyrics, a critique of the social problems hiding beneath Orlando’s glitz, are complemented by a catchy and modestly low-volume basslines which sticks in one’s psyche.

In sum, Foobar’s EP Dusk to Dawn is a promising debut which gives a solid taste of what sounds the artist is capable of creating. The eclectic mix of diverse talent and the fluid intermingling of rap, R&B, jazzy vocals and electro synthpop melodies only add to the strength of the EP. Perhaps for his future works, Foobar should be more confident in his ability to add more of his personal instrumental touch to his songs. This lack is apparent in the instrumental Illini 393, which would have sounded far more compelling had Foobar used it as a platform to showcase his chops on the synthesizer, with the addition of say, a solo towards the end or so. With this being said, Dusk to Dawn is a solid start; whatever is to follow is sure to be as compelling if not better.