EP Stream: BASECAMP’s R&B Leaning “Greater Than EP”

Comprised of Aaron Miller, Aaron C. Harmon, and Jordan Reyes, the Nashville, TN-based electro pop trio BASECAMP have developed a reputation for an sound that draws heavily from the past 15-20 years of R&B; in fact, “Watch My Back,” the first single and opening track of the trio’s recently released Greater Than EP is pairs silky smooth vocals with skittering percussion, glitchy electronics, chilly, swirling electronics, glistening synths and a tight, memorable hook to craft a sound that is reminiscent of Timbaland’s revolutionary work with Missy Elliot and Aaliyah — and interestingly enough, “Watch My Back” possesses a similar, shuffling swagger but a sensuality that belies the uneasy and confusing balance between acting upon one’s desires and holding back from a fear of rejection and heartache. “Mara,” the EP’s second single is comprised of gently droning synths, skittering percussion and begins with some jazz like scatting intro before the song begins with the song’s narrator accusing a lover/friend of changing in a way that they’ve noticed and yet can’t quite put their finger on — and they go on to tell their lover/friend that they’ve had enough and are just going to move on with their lives. “Surrender,” begins with a real minimalist feel as vocals are paired with stuttering, glitchy synths and finger-snap led percussion as the song’s narrator talks about love being both a complete and beautiful surrender of one’s self. A gorgeous string arrangement towards the song’s coda adds a melancholy feel to the song. “esc,” the EP’s fourth track is comprised of stuttering and swirling synths and electronics at various speeds — and it gives the song a dizzying, slurring, fucked up after a night of too much drinking feel, as the song lyrically talks about heartache and how at times, it can be self-imposed from our own blindness. “404” much like EP opener “Watch My Back” sounds as though it draws from Timbaland as silky vocals are paired with an incredibly sparse production featuring what sound like looped handclaps and finger snaps, howling and swirling electronics, and strategically placed bloops and bleeps. EP closing and title track “Greater Than” employs the use of a looped, strummed guitar solo, stuttering drum programming paired with vocals that express longing and regret simultaneously. A string and horn arrangement comes in briefly to add a gorgeous yet melancholy touch to the material before it gently fades out.

Sonically, the material manages a difficult balance of being sparse enough to allow room for the vocalist’s vocals to float through the mix but not without conveying the material’s overall melancholy, frustration, confusion, dashed hopes and heartaches that are an inevitable result of most of romantic relationships; it suggests an awful truth that many of us would be reluctant to admit — that life will almost always break your heart. Certainly, in an age of prepackaged, superficial, banal pop music, thoughtful, sincere pop music that’s summery and yet expresses complex emotions is not just necessary but refreshing.