Olivia Gulino, Contributing Writer
There seem to be very few hard and fast rules for making music, especially in today’s culture, and even fewer for making effective music. Though there are genres upon genres that run the gamut from obscure to mainstream, predictable to wildly unexpected, there are few categories that really distinguish effective music. One of the things I appreciate most in a song is its ability to communicate something other than words or emotions, even if it’s simply a moment. For me, Wintercoats makes this kind of music.
The product of the musical mind of James Wallace, Wintercoats, with its lo-fi electro-pop blend, is at once soothing and exciting. Gentle vocals are layered over a twinkling soundscape, and the effect is gripping.
“Heirloom,” for example, a track from his 2013 release, “Heartful,” creates the effect of a slide guitar with ambient background vocals, while the melody floats on a sparkling sample. It’s not overly complicated to the point that the listener is lost in all the moving parts, nor are the moving parts provoking in any way. The effect is smooth and blended; it simultaneously calms you and makes your blood race.
Something similar can be said for his instrumental track, “Working on a Dream” from his EP released in 2012, “Sketches.“ It’s remarkably bare as far as tracks go, but it’s elegant. In a way, it reminds me of the sensation of blinking your eyes awake in the morning.
While Wallace’s carefully crafted synthesis of musical elements is wonderful, I would like to see more vocal prominence from his work in the future. At times, the delicate vocals can seem overwhelmed by the intensity of the electronic samples and instrumentals. Though his melodies could use some innovation, there is something wonderful here that will hopefully continue to be refined.
Wintercoats is a tad off the beaten path, but it’s worth the trek.