Marcus Harley, also known by his stage name Swami Sound, is an NYU musician studying at Silver School of Social Work who recently dropped an EP titled “Quiet Storm.” The project is a follow-up to his “Walk Forward” EP that dropped in early July.
“Wythe,” the first track on the EP, evokes a kind of vapor-drenched malaise that harkens back to the summer days long since forgotten. As the EP rolls on, each track exudes a dreamy state of contemplation, with a kind of department store cool that dwells on shimmering pianos and cloudy swells.
The song “Midnight Dominator” is another beachy dive into the ethereal world of Swami Sound. Its plodding drums and shimmering accents make for a wonderful nighttime soundtrack. The break into more driven percussion about one-third of the way into the track is timed just right, embodying a Tycho-esque level of thoughtful pacing. The sound of the seashore envelopes the soundscape and nicely fills the gap between the guitar and the bass. As the track comes to a close, the strumming guitar lead and muffled vocal samples leave the listener with a rose-tinted sense of nostalgia.
The final track, “Mad,” takes a trap-influenced approach on the sample-based melodies Swami had been articulating on prior tracks. The heavy 808s come with a significant punch and interlace nicely with the intermittent vocal snippets. The aggressive alternating chords and brief yet foreboding narration start a tune that has vocal snippets battle against the relentless percussion.
Swami has been particularly active recently. While this EP dropped Sept. 16, he has since released five more tracks, most notably “G’ Tunes (302 Mix),” a remix of a song from his previous EP. It evokes a smooth yet sinister blend of atmospheric emotion, sampling sounds from Dragonball to Animal Collective. Of these releases, it is clear that “Quiet Storm” is his most coherent; the tracks have a very evident flow to them that drifts effortlessly from the first track to the last.
“Quiet Storm” is, by all means, an enjoyable listen. However, the listener will at times be pressed to find any sense of significant fluidity through the track list. The samples incorporated by Swami are no doubt fitting, but the tracks are often cut too short. Equally so, many of the tunes have the necessary blueprint for a stellar song but are missing out on some form of lyrics. A tune like “Mad” begs for a rapper that unfortunately never arrives. The EP is more a proof of thematic concept; the mood is there, the production is there, but the tracks have a habit of omitting the kind of emotional build that would make the EP as a whole more memorable.
Issues aside, Master Swami still comes through with an incredibly consistent vibe on his latest project. It is no doubt an effective proof of concept for the up-and-coming producer, which is ultimately what an artist sets out to accomplish with an extended play.
This EP is proof that Swami has what it takes to bring his audience a more fleshed out full-length project down the road.
Stream the EP, as well as all of Swami’s work, for free on Soundcloud.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 25 print edition.
Email Connor Gatesman at [email protected]