Originally from Newcastle, Dublin – Gerard Kiely and Brian Carrigan formed the indie electro duo, Contemplenta, earlier this year. Having played in a band together as teenagers, the two seeked to rekindle a shared interest in music and strike a good work/life balance in an increasingly chaotic and busy world, via this project. Their 4 track EP, “Scent of Splendour” – written and recorded in Galway – combines a blend of organic and electronic sounds, both retro and futuristic in essence. These songs have a pleasing aesthetic that takes the best of ’80s electropop, then feeding it through the filter of modern, carefree days. The result is addictive slices of summery, almost chilled electro that can appeal far beyond the pedants of electronic music aficionados.
As one would rightly expect on a great electro recording, the bass lines are grand and the percussive beats bright. The songs also ooze effortlessly from one to another and regardless of mood, proof of a duo who know what they’re doing.
The effects Contemplenta employ are never too heavy-handed or too geeked out. There’s a nice balance, too, between dreamy vocals, chilled-out soundscapes, and understated, heart-pumping beats, proving the duo’s songwriting and arranging versatility.
For various unspoken reasons, nostalgia courses through the veins of “Scent of Splendour”. Meanwhile, there’s always an immediacy to it that makes even the more plainly dramatic moments of the record seem relatable. If forced to narrow the EP down to one word, it would almost have to be ‘personal’. But that doesn’t mean the recording represent exactly what it seems to be on paper.
The EP is a marvel for its latent duality—countless moments sound both refreshingly crisp and comfortably worn at once. Gerard Kiely and Brian Carrigan just so happen to possess the kind of talent that aggrandizes emotions. They’re really good at making pop music, even if that’s not technically what they’re making at all.
From the opening, title track, “Scent of Splendour”, the serene vocals summon listeners into a trance-like state. “Sunlight at Skogafoss”, on the other hand, is a fine representation of what Contemplenta do so well throughout the EP.
By linking both the know-how of production software and their melodic, comforting vocal talent, with organic elements, the duo have re-created a captivating upbeat amalgamation that has started to become increasingly popular in electronic music.
As we are beginning to leer away from mainstream EDM, artists such as Contemplenta prove that they have a place in more alternative sub-genres of electronic music as well. That this EP is indeed only loaded with great songs, becomes clear when listening to the whirling “Salthill” and the slower, more somber acoustic guitar driven “No Safe Path”.
Contemplenta have created a winning record here, filled with astute production, well-crafted lyrical content, enticing chords, beautiful melodies and warm echoey choruses. Not intending to shake up the foundations of club music. When this music hits home, it does so with a delightful subtlety only present in well-crafted pop music…even if that’s not technically what they’re making at all…