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Album review: Chocolate Velvet - Moan (EP)

Album review: Chocolate Velvet - Moan (EP)

Chocolate Velvet's EP release Moan is the brainchild of the prolific William (Scott) Chaffin, a songwriter who is also brain-rearing tunes for The Black Bullet Promise and Vitae and The Pale Horse, among other artistic endeavors. This 5-song collection of new and previously unreleased material is very much reflective of the pseudonym under which it resides: smooth, dark, and textured. 
I listened to this release a few times during the daylight hours, wishing for a long drive at night to thoroughly devour the subtleties hidden in Chocolate Velvet's songs. The feel of this EP, more emotionally than sonically, has the depth of "In the Air Tonight" (pre-drum intro), with a contemplative lyrical element paired with electronic grooves, never going over the edge, never straying too far from it. 
The release begins with "Moan," a steady, ambient song held together with a synth line and layered atmospheric guitars that support Chaffin's edgy vocal delivery. This song as an opener is a great introduction for the rest of the songs on the EP: cool, collected, and riding on a deceptively simple groove that proves to be haunting and direct at the same time. "Tomorrow is a Witch," my personal favorite, works in a marimba-style beat while maintaining  good electronic dance music posture. Vocally, this song brings Chaffin front-and-center with a vague resemblance of Peter Gabriel, with a floating, rhythmic cadence while proclaiming "Tomorrow is a witch that is drowning to pay." "Emotion" follows with a more emotive hip-hop delivery, with use of auto-tune, but used in a context that's less Top 40 than most are used to hearing it in. The 80's groove of "Joker" moves along on a synth line that makes room for layered electronic noises and piano that supports Chaffin's warning, "You're better off lying cause they'll put you in a cage." This track is both danceable and cerebral in its elements and provides for solid foot tapping or existential deliberation, whichever floats your boat. The EP concludes with an instrumental version of the title track and shows the layered beauty Chaffin has the ability to conjure through the use of space and timing.
This is a modern and, at times, ethereal release from an artist that deserves recognition for his songwriting across all his projects, and in particular, for his ability to shift genres without much crossover from one to the other. You can follow the man himself on Twitter @ticketforone.

--Mike Tipton

Mike is a KC native that enjoys new music and playing with his band, Molly Picture Club. He also enjoys people watching and documentaries by Ken Burns.

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Published: October 04, 2012 |

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