Eye Wonder is an album with breeze in it, with steady beats garnished with classy, and catchy melodies that at times recall tango vibes with long legs ondulating on the turns, and basses playing to be a bandoneon. Beats are broken by funky rattles that flirt with dub, and sounds go closer to the tropical sea, with airs of sandy dreads, waves splashing at dawn, and a cotton hammock near by for you to swing on it with the pulsing breeze blowing from the eight tracks of Eye Wonder. To me, the hammock there is so attractive that each time I listen to Eye Wonder I end up there, chilling (and craving a fresh pina colada).
AM444 gathers the soul colors of Jay.Soul, and the wild tender textures of ChaCha. Jay.Soul’s selective taste is the root from where he keeps the music flowing comfortably, just to know his name explains a lot. His delicate arrays are actually meticulous, they define the loose and cozy mood of the album, the breaks and the silences are the ones yelling so. Though Jay.Soul scratches the beats with different elements to avoid ultra smoothness, most of the texture of the album comes with ChaCha’s frasing in Chinese, actually I feel tempted to compare her with Coco Zhao’s singing, because both of them know how to bring the charm of Chinese language out. ChaCha is a big MC because she understands the use of frasing and toning, she’s a singer, she knows how to play with her voice. I don’t want to say that she is awesome because I think her potential is big, and I believe there’s a lot for her to explore yet, but I think is proper to say that ChaCha is one of the most attractive singers in China right now. The mix of Jay.Soul and ChaCha to create AM444 has been a wise move, and Eye Wonder is the material prove of this.
Eye Wonder starts with aplomb on the first track “失忆”(Shi Yi – Disappointed). All along the album the melodies are easy to catch, and the beats easy to surf. The sounds keep a homogeneous style, though there are cosmic and industrial explorations, they are all varnished to keep the tone of the album. On “神仙药” (Shen Xian Yao – God’s drug) dub sets the root. I like a lot the turn on “去海边” (Qu Hai Bian – Go To The Beach) , and I liked it before I understood what was about, and yes the latin drums are part of the reason, but the breaks and the melody are pretty sweet too. “Eye Wonder”, the central song, is where dub reaches the pick. On “神经末梢” (Shen Jing Mo Shao – Nerve Endings) is where I can’t resist anymore that hammock to fall and swing with the dubby breeze. The riffs at the end are simply cool, I’m totally into them. “Eye Know” ends the album with a smooth cut, so chilled that takes a time or two to react and notice the music ended. If Eye Wonder would be a painting it would be dominated by earth tones, with no strident marks, probably with thick textures, but in a balanced way. I picture it very open and abstract, atmospheric, with few clear shapes, and much space to imagine. And a lot of breeze.
The one thing to be alert about this album is just the old unknown future, and the ability of AM444 to go on. Eye Wonder is indeed a very nice album to start, it definetelly makes me want to listen to more of AM444, so I hope the duo defeat all the usual enemies of music projects in China, and keeps their hands firm on their steering wheel.
Eye Wonder was released by the record label Pause:Music last April with a memorable show at The Shelter. If here we’d care about hierarchy, then maybe we should list AM444’s debut album as one of the best albums of the year in China until now. But that’s really not important, what is important is that Eye Wonder is an album produced with good taste, it is easy to enjoy, and over and over again.