Mario & Vidis: Changed
Silence Music

Lithuania-based partners Marijus Adomaitis (Mario) and Vidmantas Cepkauskas (Vidis) offer their heavily atmospheric take on melodic house music in an ambitious and overall rewarding double-disc set. That their first production effort was a remix for Atjazz and Robert Owens goes some way towards suggesting the kind of stylistic terrain Mario & Vidis operate within. The duo clearly designed their debut artist album's discs to be markedly contrasting in tone and approach, with the opening half devoted to vocal-based downtempo songs and the instrumental second more purely dancefloor-focused.

The release's epic intent is signified by a structure that finds a mournful instrumental prelude (“Introducing To You”) easing the listener into the first disc, a heavily atmospheric, late-night kind of set that's laid-back and moody and filled with soulful vocal-based house tracks. One of the best, “In My System,” comes first, with Kathy Diamond draping a sultry and sensual vocal over a luscious, downtempo backdrop. The song's hooks are memorable, in particular the slow drawl of Diamond's “Dance with me,” and much the same can be said of the subsequent “Slow” and “Suspend the Feeling,” both of which feature the comparatively earthier vocal stylings of Giedre, and the haunting title track, whose lithe skip receives a considerable boost from Ernesto's elegant vocalizing and a full-bodied vocal arrangement (Ernesto also appears on the more uptempo and harder-grooving “ISM”). One more vocalist, Jazzu, who's apparently a major act in Lithuania and regarded as that country's version of Goldfrapp or Roisin Murphy, adds her voice to “Who's Shot The Silence?!” and the somewhat dub-inflected “I'll Be Gone.” At disc's close, elements of jazz and New Age surface when a trumpet player is given the spotlight during the lush “When Nobody Listens.”

The second disc begins strongly with the Booka Shade-like swing of “Plastic People,” a delicious slow-builder if there ever was one. The groove's deep and funky, and so too is the one powering the slinky dub re-do of “In My System” wherein the faintest traces of Diamond's vocal remain. “Test” could function as the prototype for epic electronic dance music, given its emphasis on tension-and-release, build-ups, and a Kraftwerk-styled synth theme. The bent acid of “Demo.Lition Part 1” plays like Mario & Vidis's homage to Plastikman (with a bit of a nod to Tangerine Dream in the track's sequencer patterns), while the woozy synth theme in “Adventurous Instrumental Music” plunges even more deeply down the Plastikman rabbit hole. In keeping with the clubbier vibe of the second half, most of the cuts liberally stretch out and lend the disc an air of instrumental scene-painting. Not surprisingly, the first half exudes more personality than the second, obviously because of the presence of the vocalists, but the second is nevertheless a perfectly credible if occasionally derivative collection of club tracks. Changed, its first half especially, will appeal to listeners whose appetites run towards melodic house tracks served up slowly and soulful and funky in tone.

January 2012