Years in the making and highly anticipated, What So Not’s debut album is finally here. Between a never ending touring schedule across all corners of the world, Chris Emerson, has surfed the What So Not wave effortlessly, driving his creativity and passion towards a record that he should be proud of.
Not All The Beautiful Things begins with an epic opener called ‘Warlord’, which is the first of many collaborations, this time with Perth natives, SLUMBERJACK. It immediately sets the tone of Not All The Beautiful Things, with a purposefully placed sound of a coin dropping, perhaps a message from Emerson about realisation of what this project is really about; the penny has well and truly dropped. In a delicious concoction of each producer’s individual style, ‘Warlord’ is a monstrous introduction that announces the arrival of What So Not’s epic debut album.
‘Be Ok Again’ reveals the emotive side to the album, aligning lyrics and sound with the running theme of relationships and the sometimes powerful end to them; “Layin’ on the floor in the doorway/Looking at these pictures, nothing left to say”. ‘Be Ok Again’ was the first single off the album and serves as the first of three of Daniel Johns’ vocal appearances, a collaboration that is both exciting and refreshing for electronic music.
One of the most powerfully striking tracks on the album is, ‘Beautiful’. This electronic-house adventure is a tune that hits the ground running. Winona Oak’s euphoric voice sings about loving and longing the negative aspects of a relationship that can hold people together: “Cos your pain is beautiful/Your insane is beautiful”. The banging vocal chorus evolves from a bassy kick drum drop, into a kick-high-hat combo that is astoundingly catchy. This one will be a floor filler.
The second single off the album, ‘Stuck In Orbit’, returns to a familiar What So Not sound that old fans will instantly recognise; mellow electronic beats with a hard hitting snare drum and deep synth combo. BOUY offers up some beautiful vocal sounds that perfectly match the vibe of the tune.
Perhaps one of the biggest collaborations on the record is found on the track ‘Goh’; a giant collaboration Skrillex and carried along with some powerful vocals by KLP. The first of the guitar arrangements begin to emerge on the album, something that is finely experimented with and executed superbly across Not All The Beautiful Things. ‘Goh’ is a track that has been floating around What So Not DJ sets for a while, first appearing at a Groovin The Moo festival in Australia, circa 2015. Since then, it has morphed and transformed into the final song heard on the album, which is by far the most chaotic and monstrous track on the album. From the first epic drop, to the last guitar fade out, this track sweats with power and ferocity.
Not All The Beautiful Things is a fantastic example of genre blending electronic music, where collaborations are executed effortlessly. On tracks like ‘If You Only Knew’, a collab with Netherlands producer San Holo, two unique electronic sounds are merged together, with vocal support from Daniel Johns. ‘Monsters’ and ‘Demons’ both represent a hip-hop/rap sound that we got a taste of on ‘Buried’, a stand out track from What So Not’s Divide & Conquer EP released back in 2016. The closure of the album is a beautiful six and a half minute song called ‘Us’, a reflection on the previous 11 tracks, culminating everything into a gorgeous finale.
Not All The Beautiful Things is the destination that Chris Emerson has been leading the ever-moving What So Not project to for a while. The record is a selection of finely cut, thought out tracks, encapsulating a sound that is innovative and very exciting. This style of emotive electronic music sets the songs found across Not All The Beautiful Things apart from that of typical electronic music; they have feeling, emotion and it is clear to see the hard work and dedication that pours out across this album.