So much of pop music production is a matter of taking trends and concepts from music’s fringes and underground scenes and polishing them for wider consumption. For a segment of the listening population, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is mainstream deliverance on over a year of experimentation in the trap scene (itself the culmination of years and years of Soundcloud knob-twiddlers growing up on southern hip-hop). While a lot of this polishing can feel contrived, much of it can be enjoyable (just ask Constant Gardner, Katie K, or me what we think of “Dark Horse”) precisely because the music has been made by excellent, seasoned musicians and producers. Does it lose some of its edginess? Sure. Does it make up for it with a sheen that allows for immediate accessibility? Much of the time, yes.
If you’re a dedicated Soundcloud surfer, you’re probably well aware that 90s R ‘n B has been a big influence on many of the producers who’ve built their names through the streaming site. Some, like Kaytranada, Sango, Ta-Ku, and much of the Soulection roster, have figured out how to harness the chords and concepts of the genre in interesting ways, forming a fluid but definable sound. For many Soundcloud beat makers, the ideas are there, but the execution lacks.
Producer M-Phazes has by no means watered this sound down into derivative pop, but, with new project Camden Arc, he adds polish that turns vision into execution. As his Soundcloud describes:
“‘I Don’t Wanna Fall in Love’ is the first taste of this new passion project from M-Phazes, taking time out to experiment with new production techniques; blending them with inspiration drawn from the likes of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Teddy Riley, DeVante Swing, Timbaland and a host of classic 90’s RnB pioneers.”
The fingerprints of all the above (save, perhaps, for Timbaland) are noticeable on “I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love,” a well-crafted ode to a sound and era from an experienced producer. Listen below.