Scene and Heard – CCCLXXV : Cobra CMDR – Paradame  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ParadameBannrGreen-1024x653The great thing about Paradame is that on the surface of things, her music seems to fit into some fairly neat boxes, exploring soul, pop, R&B and urban music strands. But the more you listen too it the more you realise just how subversive it actually is and that the reason that you didn’t pick up on its outsider qualities straight away was because songs like Cobra CMDR come wrapped in a brilliant sonic trojan horse. It is music which seems to be easily identifiable on the outside but has so many hidden depths and by the time you realise that it has managed to get past any musical prejudices or genre snobbery that might have got in the way.

It is a dark, sultry and edgy piece of sci-fi infused sonics, sitting somewhere at the centre of the perfect storm of street rap deliveries, dystopian pop, glitchy electronica and commercial infectiousness, a song that doesn’t follow the usual template, which is cool and cultish yet which is instantly memorable and clever enough to get a mainstream following with ease.

And visually it does something just as clever too. In many videos the women are just the material trappings of a male music master, not quite as important as the car, the bling, the weed, the money. Even when a supposedly liberating female popster appears to be calling the shots there is still often an obvious undercurrent of them playing a stereotypical image for the music money men. Paradame offers something new. These women are projecting real power here. Yes, they are projecting a sexy and sultry image too, but on their own terms and would you walk into that room alone? And if you did would there be any doubt who was in control?

As she proved on the brilliant Aye! Priori from which this track is taken, Paradame is not about trying to change things from the outside, about creating alternatives to the mainstream, underground scenes or new genres for the sake of it. She is about showing those with more mainstream tastes what they are missing, that music can be both challenging and chart accessible, that music doesn’t have to follow a lowest common denominator to be successful. Clever pop music, it would seem, is back on the menu. I bet you didn’t see that one coming?

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Aye! Priori –  Paradame (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

PrintParadame sounds like the perfect artist for this post-genre world that we find ourselves in. There was a time when music was strangely tribal, that unwritten rules dictated that members of one broad musical base couldn’t be a fan of others. Punks didn’t go to prog gigs, Indie kids didn’t hit the commercial dance floors, rap and goth would cross the road to avoid each other. Thankfully all of that nonsense is behind us and only the other day I found myself sat in a coffee shop opposite a kid in guyliner and a Ramones t-shirt clutching a couple of Steely Dan vinyls he’d found going cheap. I just hope that he was using his laptop to obtain tickets for a Taylor Swift tour but that may be asking too much of the analogy.

Anyway, the point is, this is the world I have been looking forward too for a long time, one where rules, expectations and perceived protocol don’t matter and we are free to explore any musical avenue that takes our ear. This too is the world of Paradame. Hurricane, the lead single and album opener, gently splices electro-pop, hip-hop and futuristic R&B, vocals wander between street corner rap delivers and pure pop and the result is glorious and also liberating.

Whilst songs such as Break This are straighter takes on R&B and soul reinventions for the modern age, it is Wave which really shows the scope of her music, a futuristic and beguiling electro-rap driving along off-kilter dance grooves and a Darkwave soul. Ursula is built on minimal, pulsating music and atmospherics and the fact that album closer, A Thin Line, begins with the closing soliloquy from one of my favourite films, Blade Runner, only makes me love her music more.

Cobra is a fantastic prospect, a skittering sci-fi laced rap built on skittering trap percussion and sumptuous harmonies, odd and otherworldly, punchy yet poised. When most people creating music built on such a groove are talking about their hood and their streets, Paradame prefers to turn things into a galaxy and genre hopping piece of escapism.

Lyrically, she also comes from a clever place. Whereas many people working in such urban infused musical genres tend to use lyrics to evoke cliched aggrandisement about their environment, their ambitions and their material wealth, Aye! Priori is a soul-searching album. Its words and the scenes and scenarios they paint explores the head, the heart and the very soul, personal narratives perhaps but the messages here are universally transferable from artist to listener. An album which is both musically big and lyrically clever! Why has no one thought of that before?

Listen to the album HERE

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