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Gramatik 'Epigram' Album Review: Denis Jasarevic Channels Nikola Tesla

by Mark McNulty   Mar 25, 2016 15:40 PM EDT

Denis Jasarevic, a.k.a. the Brooklyn-bred DJ/producer Gramatik, isn't afraid to drive the conversation. And on his new album Epigram, he reminds us who's in the pilot's seat by continuing to expand the boundaries of what EDM can sonically and themeatically be.

Like his hero Nikola Tesla, Gramatik infuses his work with social and political relevance, bucking the genre's trends while sticking to his signature electro-funk sound and mastery of electronica. "Satashi Nakamoto" and "Back to the Future," which feature rapper ProbCause, are quintessential compositions stuffed with vocal samples, chopped orchestral samples, and blues guitar riffs. Then, there's tunes like the faux-trap "War of the Currents," or the dark disco "Corporate Demons" which mark new territory for Jasarevic.

As he told mic.com, "I specifically like combining samples from like five to six different songs from different genres and different eras of music, taking bits and pieces of each song and warping and tuning them all together to form a new song." The title of the album's first song, "Tempus Illusio," meaning "to make an illusion of time," alludes to Gramatik's mantra of fusing samples from the decades long gone with new age synthesizer soundscapes.

Jasarevic is also one EDM's most outspoken artists when it comes to political issues, especially Internet privacy. A title like "Corporate Demons" has obvious political relevance this election year. "Native Son," the album's first single, is also the name of a novel about an African-American man who overcomes hatred and discrimination in the 1950s. "Room 3327" references the "Tesla Room" in the New Yorker Hotel where Gramatik's idol -- who sought to bring peace to the world with his technology -- lived and died. 

An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. This is the essence of Epigram, with each song its own statement. Here, Gramatik continues weaving overt and subliminal political themes into his music. Further repurposing the sounds of the past, polishing his own signature synth style, and collaborating with a range of unique talents, Gramatik has created his most diverse and futuristic album to date.

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