The album format has somewhat fallen out of fashion recently. This is due in great part to artists being worried about the weight and expectations the term carries, though it seems to me that those who overthink how labeling their art may warp its perceptions ultimately lose out in the end. The best records I have heard as of late are often the ones that simply invite the listener into the world the musicians were living in at the time of recording. Contour’s new eight song Love Suite EP, which hit BandCamp today and will hit streaming services on the 21st, is a record of this mold, as the singer, producer, and all around artistic multi-hyphenate gently guides us through the entrancing haze of his musical universe.
The South Carolina artist slowly opens this record, making sure we properly adjust to his measured rhythm, with “The Pulse”. The song sets the mood for the tape as Contour’s haunting echoed singing and bright keys create quite an ethereal vibe. The song’s later piano touches lead way to a vocal sample that bridges the gap right into the next track, “Love Suite no. 1”. The song’s airy synths and bright bells can make you feel like you’re in a daydream, as if a loved one has you in a trance from across the room, as you to imagine the rest of your lives together. However, with his calm crooning on the following song, early single “Song for Me”, Contour grounds us back on earth. He meditates on a self reflective approach to relationships, even realizing the extent of his dreams, singing, “I just want to be what’s in your eyes.” London born singer Demae’s light airy vocal touches provide a perfect counter to Contour and levitate us back off the ground, leaving us floating among the clouds.
Late tape cut “Outmyface [Love Suite no. 2]” is far and away the most aggressive track in the mix. Contour’s voice is slightly filtered and calmly dismissive of the person he’s singing to. The refrained instruction of “Delete my number” feels like an automated command being repeated over a loudspeaker, made even more ominous by the pitter patter of the track’s off kilter drums and distorted bass line. “Jewel” the EP’s final track lead’s us out of the smoky nightclub that makes up Contour’s musical universe just as smoothly and effortlessly as he guided us in. With Love Suite Contour sought out to document a slice of life portrayal of both romantic and non-romantic love, and on “Jewel” he admits he doesn’t have all the answers. He asks if he is the link between all the misfortunes he’s seen, and ponders whether life is just someone else’s dream, over hazy keys and a steady drum beat that mimics an anxious heart. The EP closes with Contour and Niecy Blues repeatedly asking “Could it be?” as the music slowly fades out. Contour lets this question linger as he gingerly ushers us out of his universe, leaving those existential thoughts about life and love for the listener to ponder.
Contour is an endlessly talented musician who counts production work on maasai’s With The Shifts and professional artistic collaborations with brands like Carhart WIP and Telfar among his accomplishments. However, the most impressive aspect of Love Suite is without a doubt the world Contour is able to create that these songs live in. Contour leaves you feeling like you are in a dream, sitting right there at that dark rose lit bar with him, sipping whisky and listening to him philosophize on the many ways we should and often fail to love one another. It is a hazy and hypnotic body of music that leaves you wishing you could push last call back so Contour could keep serenading you, for at least another song or two.