Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Overwerk - Canon (2015)

“Canon” is the most recent EP from Canadian producer and DJ Edmon Huszar who is better known by his stage name Overwerk. Released in 2015, it contains five songs.

Born in 1989 in London (no, not the London but the London in Ontario, Canada), he began to make music as Overwerk in 2010. Previously working as a graphical designer, he had named his portfolio “overworked” because he was always working on so many projects. He changed “work” to “werk” in tribute to the techno group Kraftwerk and thus Overwerk was born.

Overwerk’s music can be described as electro. It might be true in the higher level of genres but it does not really say much. His songs have a specific sound and do not resemble anything else which makes his songs really recognizable. Overwerk’s music has also elements from techno music, glitch and different subgenres of electro music. To top it all of he uses a lot of classical and old hits as music samples. As you can imagine, this makes his music very unique and different from your typical electronic music. Though there is one term which was coined by Porter Robinson named complextro. Complextro is an electro music subgenre which has glitchy, intricate basslines and is influenced by early analog synth music. Overwerk’s music fits that criteria but also brings the elements from different genres. For us to define the genre of Overwerk’s music, we probably have to come up with the term ourselves.  

Overwerk’s music has a distinct sound but there are also other elements that are characteristic for him. For example his songs have no vocals (except for two collaborations with Nick Nikon). There are also long intros which conclude usually with very dramatic drops. These characteristics make his music perfect for setting the mood and a lot of companies have recognised that which is why they have used his songs in their commercials. Chrysler, Lamborghini, Vogue to name a few. Most popular must be the song named “Daybreak” which was featured in GoPro’s commercial and is sitting at 42 million views on YouTube at the moment. With the right video his music really provides a powerful experience. It is a shame that he do not have original videos for his music and we have to accept his album art (which is still great) for videos. Apart from commercials, he has made songs for a computer games and (short-) movies.  

Overwerk has not released any albums or LPs. Instead he has opted to making EPs. So far he has released four of them - “The Nth Degree”, “After Hours”, “Conquer” and “Canon”. The latter includes five songs – “Canon”, “Toccata”, “Create”, “Canon Pt. II” and “Winter” where “Toccata” and “Create” are singles.  

First song from the EP is called “Canon” which includes characteristic elements from Overwerk such as glitchy sounds, long intro, serrated synths, dark melody and samples from classical music (Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s “Má Vlast: Vltava”). However through the song, the melody changes to more upbeat. Arguably it could be broken down to two different songs because the mood differs so much. This is funny because the EP contains also a “Canon Pt. II” which unfortunately does not sound like original “Canon” at all. Why is there two “Canon”s if they have almost nothing incommon? This remained mystery for me personally. It is also worth mentioning that “Canon Pt. II” is probably the weakest song on this EP.

“Toccata” and “Create are the two singles from the EP. Like “Canon”, “Toccata” uses samples from classical music. This time from Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor”. Overwerk has transformed Bach’s masterpiece into more upbeat and joyful tune which still in some parts reminds you Bach. It also has the typical Overwerk elements like synths and fluctuating basslines. “Create” represents the core of Overwerk’s music. Long intro which gradually evolves into dramatic piece of complextro. This is the most similar to his previously successful songs like “Exist” and “Daybreak”.

Last but not least is the song „Winter“. As you can imagine it uses samples from Vivaldi's „Winter“ and combines it with the usual elements from Overwerk. I must say this is probably my personal favourite from „Canon“ mainly because it is not so messy like other songs. Overwerk has only minimally included his so called trademark sounds. Not to say I hate those sounds but while listening to the whole EP it makes a nice change.

The problem with this EP is that it does not bring anything new – more typical Overwerk which suits for hardcore fans. They listen to this and probably be happy but new people will probably do not like it. It might be the worst of the four EPs which Overwerk has released. These five songs are below the quality of some of the earlier singles like „Exist“ and „Daybreak“. Also the EP itself is not whole. For example one of his earlier EPs „The Nth Degree“ has seamless transition between the songs making it very nice to listen as a whole but „Canon“ has nothing like this. True, songs from „Canon“ are based more on classical music.

One thing we have to talk about is his album art. Before he was musicican, he made his living from designing and he's putting his skills to use. He is done all of his EPs artwork and succeeded spectaculary. Not only is the art beautiful but they really go well together with his music.

In conclusion, “Canon” is below average but by no means a bad EP. Hardcore fans will surely like it and newcomers can probably find some songs that they enjoy. Overwerk has stayed true to his style and it is hard to judge him for that.  

Thomas Toodo

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