Chrome Sparks - Be On Fire - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Chrome Sparks - Be On Fire

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2019-01-01
Chrome Sparks - Be On Fire
Chrome Sparks - Be On Fire

Brooklyn based one-man band Chrome Sparks (AKA Jeremy Melvin) has found great success in recent years with a synth marinated brand of electronica, and latest release, “Be On Fire”, shows no signs of changing that acclaim. This collection of five eclectic tunes highlights influences as diverse as 30-year-old soul-funk, bits of hip-hop, jazz and modern dream pop. This creates an EP with enough sonic variety to pique the interest of listeners who enjoyed last year’s self-titled debut album, and it would not be surprising if several new followers join the flock once the newest cuts are exposed to the airwaves.

The EP opens with a tribute to little-known 80’s soul composer George Smallwood. Entitled “In2 Your Love”, the anthem is not so much a cover of the original “Get Into Your Love” (released on Smallwood’s collection of unissued tunes “Loser” from 2015) as it is a complete remake. Smallwood’s vocal is used to introduce the song, complete with 80’s lo-fi snaps and crackles of ancient vinyl before the modern music launches into an aural bouquet of flourishing synths, combined with a funky bass and drum underbelly. Melvin has admitted to being recently obsessed with Smallwood’s mostly unheralded work, and his short and sweet accolade does an admirable job of honoring a musician from the past. 

Melvin obviously likes to play with the drum cadences in his work, and “Juno Lion” displays this with beats that are used more to enhance the finished product rather than just anchoring the composition. The keyboards race upward in a series of scales that catch the ear, while a disjointed and barely-there vocal adds a shadowy background to a tune that demonstrates a hip-hop influence. 

Title tune “Be On Fire” heads off into a more jazzy groove, A pulsating bass line ties a distinct boogie beat to chime-like synth work to birth what I found to be my most appreciated track on the disc. A low-key voice box vocal adds just enough to not be distracting to the cool running melody.

The hip-hop influence reappears in “Ultraviolet Rainbow”, as the drumbeat bounces all over the place while the synths are wound up tight and allowed to unspool with reckless abandon into a more symphonic sounding cut. The song contains an interesting spin-out into a near stop two-thirds of the way through before picking back up and ending strong. 

“I Could Be the Voice Inside Your Head” leads in with some quick studio banter about some sampling before the heavy bass kicks in. The keyboards introduce a woodwind influenced melody mostly composed of numerous nine-note spurts designed to mimic the song’s title. The tune’s more pensive mood guarantees that the possibilities offered in the title will indeed find their way into your cranium and stay there for a while. Consider yourself forewarned!

Melvin has spent the last couple of years impressing audiences all over the world with his unique brand of singularly created music, and 2019 will continue that pattern. Concerts are scheduled in the US and Canada for early in 2019, but it is not unusual to find Chrome Sparks on the bill in such locales as India or Pakistan. This worldwide recognition is not easy to achieve, but the overall quality and appeal of Melvin’s product cross international borders with ease. No doubt “Be On Fire” will continue this global appreciation.

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