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Introducing LICK: Rising bass star releases definitive debut album, ‘DARK VIBE ORDER’ [Album Review]

Here at Conscious Electronic, we love all things bass — breakbeat, downtempo, left-field, experimental, dubstep in all its forms, you name it. As the underground bass movement has begun its full ascendancy in the US, we’ve been keeping a finger on the pulse of up-and-coming bass artists the country over. As such, CE‘s Rising Bass Spotlight seeks to turn a focus onto those rising producers who’re developing their craft, garnering their audiences, and turning eyes, ears, heads, and bodies with their commitment to all things low end.

LICK has been crushing the scene for some time now. Garnering a loyal following on social media, responding often to fans, and releasing a slew of music in different genres have made him a force to be reckoned with over the last year. Still, he’s maintained a fairly mysterious presence and image, rarely showing his face and often clad in a mask. His debut album, DARK VIBE ORDER, is a comprehensive effort that provides more of a window into who he really is.

The early part of his musical career was built on a string of remixes, flips, and features, along with a notable Stranger Things theme remix and a feature on Zeds Dead and Jauz‘s Lights Go Down Remixes EP. Now, the rising star hailing from Arizona has stepped into his own with the definitive statement of an 11-track debut album. From beginning to end, the full-length project covers many bases, showing off an impressive display of his production skill as well as Lick’s ability to collaborate with other artists.

After an ambient and promising intro, the second track, “DAWNLESS,” featuring Timian, is a face-scrunching stomper that takes no prisoners right out of the gate. Filled with haunting, orchestral tones in the introduction and the middle section, the tune takes a familiar half-time formula most notably utilized by REZZ and cranks it up further. The lead bass in each drop is absolutely blistering.

As the album progresses, it becomes clear that LICK is not going to be constrained to one genre or sound. The third single from the album and the fourth track on the album, “NO WAY,” is an unexpected but not unappreciated trap banger. This would have easily found a home on an RL Grime project, and it is a wild romp through a ton of glitchy and strange sounds with a pounding, head-nodding bassline.

This wall of sound leads directly into the fifth track, “DISAPPEAR,” featuring Sara Skinner, and gives listeners a brief melodic break before jumping back into a huge, heavy drop. The rest of the track weaves beautiful vocals with chords that take on a future bass vibe armed with a relentless drop to spice things up. Immediately following the relief of a much-needed peaceful outro, the album swings into “SAY,” a more contemplative and thoughtful take on this style of bass music.

LICK keeps his pacing very consistent, moving into a pair of tracks that feature female vocalists, “BODY” and “RUNAWAY,” featuring Luna Aura and Tori Letzler, respectively. Each track is an amazing combination of stirring vocal work, peppered in with the intensity of the living, organic basslines that are on display through the album up until this point.

At this point in the album’s progression, we’ve heard an impressive variety of styles and sounds from the producer, but he isn’t done yet. “DROP DRAWS” is an unexpected bass house banger, and is yet another refreshing change of pace. LICK is truly flexing his production prowess as he adds yet another genre to his list of stylistic conquests, and the inclusion of a track like this does wonders to make this album feel breathtakingly original in its composition.

The final two tracks give listeners a break from all of the incredible drum work and ruthless basslines that populate most of this album. Each one is a take on a previous track featuring a female vocalist, and is an ambient revision of the earlier version. This is a delightful palate cleanser and serves to make any listener an instant fan,. It is also a perfect way to wind down from the intense ride of the album as well as revisit the memorable voice lines that have already been introduced on the album.

Overall, this is a refreshing departure from the typical single-genre album that impresses at every turn. LICK showcases his production skill, as well as his ear for excellent artistry, as the feature placements on the album are precise and well-timed. While dark and foreboding, the project is also uplifting and peppered with heavenly melodic structure, switching easily from one musical style to the next without ever sounding incongruous or clashing. Overall, DARK VIBE ORDER is a promising start for LICK and we will be spinning this album on repeat while we eagerly await the talented rising star’s next move.