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.

The newest EP from local electronic producer Dawn Safari, titled Areíto, was released on March 31st. Five tracks of tropical, clubby bliss, Areíto transports listens to a Latin nightclub set in the year 3000 with his excellent use of wild percussions and a wide range of synths. Originally born on the island of St. Thomas to a Puerto Rican father and Dutch mother, Dawn Safari is one of the founders of the record label DIRTY//CLEAN.

Dawn explores the many facets of electronic music with an explorer’s mentality. “I’ve … always seen clubs and parties as being like urban tribal experiences,” he writes, “with a clan of your closest people gyrating and sweating to frenzied drum rhythms in unison.” 

The first track, “Be With You,” featuring vocals from Damien Blaise, opens with off-kilter drums and pitched up vocals. Immediately reminiscent of a PC Music-style release made for the dancefloor, this colorful track sets the expectations for the EP high. Auto-tuned vocals are tastefully sprinkled in between warm synth pads and crisp bongos, while chip-tuned vocal chops add another element of melodic rhythm.

Chopped and reworked breaks introduce the second track, “Pour It Up.” A blend of Latin percussion, claps and vocoder voices work themselves in and out of the track, while a synthesized Eastern-sounding lute plucks persistently and provides a stable backdrop for the rest of the varied instrumentation.

“Let Me In,” is filled with R&B vocals that showcase the soulful voice of Rozay Lebeija, who breathes passionate words over the crisp syncopated beat. The most pop-oriented track of the release, “Let Me In,” provides a nice melodic respite from the heavy club beats and intricate vocal chops from the rest of the EP, giving listeners a nice break from the dancefloor jams.

The fourth track, “Nickel & Dimes,” carries the warm, dreamy energy from the previous track before slowly fading into a beat that harkens back to the days of French label Clek Clek Boom’s height in the club circuit. The track progresses into a 2-steppin’ bassline — wobbles and all — while modulated synths help pull the track forward.

Sounding like a Lipgloss Twins track with more structure, “Chants,” carries elements of vaporwave but has more rhythm and groove than the average vaporwave track. Heavy kicks drive the final track of this release, while masterfully chopped and edited vocals add another element of percussive beats. Tropical synths juiced up with a subtle steel drum add yet another layer of complex structure to this track, ending the EP on a strong note.

Influences ranging from R&B to dancehall to chip-tune can all be heard on Dawn Safari’s newest release, while pushing its own distinct flavor of dance music. In short, the release converses with other genres while maintaining its own originality. The organization of the release was perfectly executed, and each track compliments each other while still having its own individual identity. No track sounds the exact same, yet the release isn’t so varied that it becomes unlistenable in its entirety. Overall, Areíto takes listeners on a tropical journey across the dancefloor and into the ether.

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