CD review: Tristan Clopet, Purple EP

Tristan Clopet’s latest EP, Purple, is a selection of songs by the Miami-based musician that mostly bounce out of the speakers on heavy bass lines and funky rhythmic guitar grooves.

“Proximity Bomb” opens the EP with a thrust of drum and bass beats mixed with go-go infused percussion and eventually funk-punk electric guitar riffs, all which become the aggressive and fast-tempo background sound for Clopet’s talk-singing of the song’s ambiguous lyrics. The speedy lyrical rapping slows down to a more ethereal pace for parts, with Clopet switching to the melodic range of his voice.

With three quarters of the EP oozing the sonic vibes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic meets Pearl Jam, Clopet’s instrumental and lyrical style on several tracks unabashedly imitates one of my absolute favorite bands of all time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers – specifically circa the Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik (1991), “Give it Away” days. If you were to read any other review of Clopet, you would discover at lightning speed that my comparison is cliché; however, I think it just means Clopet is replicating the unique RHCP sound in a high quality way through careful articulation of the music – that’s a good thing because, who doesn’t love the Peppers? Still, it also shows that as an artist, Clopet has to continue to build on the funk–rock vibe, fine tuning it to make it his own, which is my main criticism; that at times Purple is a little too RHCP.

However, considering the scope of musical talent Clopet displays on the song sampling, finding his own vibe in the genre shouldn’t be a problem for the young singer-songwriter. Anthony Kiedis’ vocal abilities are a debatable subject in the world of lead singers, but Clopet is undoubtedly a very skilled vocalist. The six tracks on the EP are strategically placed so Clopet shows off his vocal, lyrical and musical range as well as his genre versatility. The piano-rock serenade “So Alive” is placed as the number two track, foiling the emotional ambiguity and quick tempo aggressiveness of the opener with a poignant croon about redemption and picking up the pieces of one’s life. For me it is the standout track, with relatable and philosophically romantic lyrics such as “Look in the mirror/Look in the mirror my dear/ That's with whom you need to start your next affair.” The song is beautifully delivered by Clopet who wails out harmonies and melodies that are set against a grandiose guitar, keyboard and drum pulse – it’s all very Coldplay, Maroon 5ish, but still original and it shows off Clopet’s singer-songwriter skills.

“Love and A Question” is the one other track that breaks away from the funky rock style for a softer, more melodic sound. As the second to last song, and with “So Alive” as the second song, I think the placement of the two tracks was a smart move because it mixes up the sonic mood a bit and introduces the listener to Clopet’s musical span right away and then closes on the same vibes – bringing the EP full circle.

Only in his early twenties, Clopet has gone from covering musicians to recently opening for the The Swell Season and releasing two EPs with his own original music. I listened to his first EP, Duende, and found it to be more one-note in its laidbackness than Purple, which is a well crafted album that brings together funk, indie and alternative – revealing a talented and up-and-coming Florida musician.

3 stars

Below are a couple of videos of Clopet performing. I had to include the Vampire Weekend cover because it is just so bad ass. And the second is "Superficiality Is a Sin" off of Purple.

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