CD Review: Michael Brock – Scorpio EP

Released through Hybidity Music, Scorpio is 23 minutes of swirling, enticing, down-tempo soultronica.

When I first knew of Michael Brock, in high school in Fernie, BC, I recognized him as the preternaturally talented actor/singer in all of the highschool theatre performances. I have distinct memories of a certain Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun, positively singing his socks off.

And now, eight years later, after a series of maneuvers that’s brought him across the world from Berlin to Vancouver, from model to actor, he’s emerged from some sultry, smoky corner of the R&Bsphere with a six-song EP called Scorpio.

Released through Hybidity Music (alongside fellow labelmates such as Nelson-favourites HUMANS) Scorpio is 23 minutes of swirling, enticing, down-tempo soultronica. Brock has found a comfortable sound somewhere in between the alternative R&B of How to Dress Well, the tonal register of James Blake and the sexual subtext of The Weeknd.

But where The Weeknd is all sleaze and sweat, Brock’s R&B love songs have a warmth and welcome to them, despite their darker reverbed depths. Rapid staccato snares and clanging bells do little to distract from his voice on whirling track “Green and Black.” And a sample from Bon Iver’s song “Perth” upholds a sultry call-and-response melody in “Soundtracks,” set alongside gorgeous female backing vocals.

The album remains in the groove of smooth, queer and (beguilingly) minimal R&B until standout track “My Ocean,” where everything clicks, dropping into a deep bass rumble and a buzzing synth saw, his vocals multitracked and invigorated. It’s the sort of elevating moment that can define an album.

Brock is a talented fellow, and Scorpio is hopefully just the tip of that iceberg.

 

This review originally appeared in {vurb}, the Nelson Star‘s weekly entertainment supplement.

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