WHAT SO NOT
NOT ALL THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS
What So Not began as a collaboration project between Aussie producers, Emoh Instead (Chris Emerson) and Flume in 2011. Seven years later, and three years after Flume’s exit from the duo, Emoh has gone from strength to strength, taking charge of the project and soaring as the face behind the name. After months of teaser tracks, this week marks the highly anticipated release of What So Not‘s debut full length album, Not All the Beautiful Things. Packed full of diverse collaborations (Skrillex, Slumberjack, Toto, KLP, Daniel Johns, to list a handful) Not All the Beautiful Things, amplifies What So Not‘s growth and solidifies his position as one of Australia’s most talented and dynamic exports. Essentially, the album is about evolution, and What So Not showcases this with a tonne of collaborations, exploration of genres, and even debuts his own vocal work.
The album’s opener, Warlord, with SLUMBERJACK, works as the transition from What So Not‘s 2016 release, Divide & Conquer, to his present work. The drop brings together the best parts of What So Not‘s and SLUMBERJACK‘s individual sounds, proving it’ll soon be a staple to the year’s upcoming festival sets.
Amongst the numerous collaborations already under his belt, Not All the Beautiful Things sees What So Not team up with former Silverchair front-man, Daniel Johns. Johns’ vocals appear on three songs of the albums 12 tracks; with each of the three combining Johns’ own style and influence along with What So Not’s trap roots. Be Ok Again, debuts Emoh’s own vocal work, of which smoothly blends into Johns’ distinct vocal while adding depth into the track. The easy drop and addictive beat round off the track, assuring it’ll be one stuck on repeat. If Only You Knew, a collaboration with San Holo, combines melodic verses with a rhythmic synth undertone for Johns to lay his vocals, while Same Mistakes borrows from Johns’ rock background, featuring distorted guitars and his signature vocal work. Just as it’s forgotten that we’re on a What So Not track, his staple trap beat builds up into unexpected silence to then be followed by a conservative drop.
Beautiful (feat. Winona Oak) opens with the mesmerising vocals of Winona Oak which build along with the beat into a tropical house infused drop, making the track easy to enjoy. This mixture of genre elements ensures this dance track will be going off during his upcoming tour. BUOY opens up Stuck in Orbit (feat. BUOY) with a beautiful yet haunting falsetto that offers a softer side to the album, with her stunning vocal work stealing the limelight to help mould what is arguably the album’s most beautiful track.
As another part to What So Not‘s genre exploration, hip hop elements soon follow through, teaming up with Roman Fortune (previously heard in 2016’s Buried with George Maple), James Earl, and Tommy Swisher on Demons. Featuring a memorable piano melody, we hear the best of all counterparts in this smooth track. To compare, the slow paced Monsters (featuring Michael Christmas & tobi lou), brings in and explores the darker elements and undertones of hip hop.
The stand out track of the album goes to Skrillex collaboration, featuring KLP on vocals, Goh. With a vocal line that demands the listener’s attention (similar to that of 2017’s Better) and the album’s heaviest drop, Goh is sonically reminiscent of What So Not‘s 2015 work with RL Grime on Tell Me. To be fair you can always count on Skrillex to bring and carry the heavy dub sound into a track. We Keep On Running, the collaboration track with Toto, refreshes the album’s pace through Toto‘s 70’s rock vocals and sound combined with What So Not‘s electronics with a heavy chorus that shows the perfect marriage between these diverse artists.
Not All the Beautiful Things emphasises What So Not‘s personal and career growth through 12 outstanding tracks that mirror his journey over the past few years. Ultimately, his innovative sound and collaboration ability has enabled him to create 12 outstanding yet equally unique tracks that provide something for everyone.
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- Chelsea Wood