This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.
Memories are fleeting, as is life itself — a blitz of people, places, thoughts and feelings rushing past. Some linger and some are a flash in the pan, yet all is against the grains of time. Denver-producer (by way of Grand Rapids, Michigan) Norty, processes such a progression through life’s many moments in his free-fall of an electronic album, The Years Are Fleeting. The album, teetering between a quiet desperation and a raw vulnerability speaks on time and emotion through distorted vocals, rapturous drops and an instability you simply cannot shake. Grandmaster Flash famously rapped, “don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge,” but he’d probably never met the electronic producer who willfully goads the listener to tempt fate — casually creating an album that cartwheels on the brink.
Norty (aka Kyle Norton) is fresh-faced in the Denver music scene but has been releasing material under the pseudonym since 2013. A skillful producer already, The Years Are Fleeting delves deep into his edge as a songwriter — aptly capturing his ability to maneuver effectively across the erratic productions he crafts. Sounding like a cross between Flume and NVDES, Norty’s sound is urgent and startling in its sound design and production. Likewise, the project separates itself from other electronic projects in its use of live instrumentation. From horns to frantic guitar riffs and saloon-sounding keys, the album incorporates a plethora of sounds but somehow boils them down into the sleekly cohesive album that it is.
Opening track “Intro: Alright,” sees Norton’s voice seductively piloting across a driving bass groove as a current of yelled “alights” surges beneath. The track is a triumphant cry of “being old enough to call [something] a problem,” but straight-up refusing to do so. From there, Norty careens across the punk-trap banger “Alien Eyes.” The song, in particular, is an indelible earworm that shines with a starry-eyed beauty before pummeling the listener with a rowdy drop. The mesmerizing track “Fox” swelters and suffocates to the ringing of bells and a propulsive kick where Norton sings, “tell me you don’t want me — I want it all again,” as he floats above memories and dreams unable to separate them. Elsewhere, on a highlight of the album — “When You’re Around” featuring vocalist Martez Claybren — Norton goes off the deep end across anxiety-inducing synths and a drop that plummets into a manic hysteria.
Although it is a volatile ride, The Years Are Fleeting is nothing short of thrilling. With more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan film, The Years Are Fleeting quite literally sucks you into the rollercoaster of its emotional core. It’s an electronic album for the adrenaline junkie — consistently pushing the production envelope with each consecutive track. At its best, The Years Are Fleeting is a hollowed out sonic joyride bursting with confidence and inspiration. Though Norton balances on the brink, he’s surefooted, trusting in his musical intuition to carry his wild ideas to fruition. It is an anxious album of thrills and spills held together by the threat of running out of time as the world move around you. The joy is never knowing if it’s coming together or falling apart.