Wez Atlas

Mystery Train – feat. Wez Atlas by Helsinki Lamba Club

Mystery Train album cover

Mystery Train

Helsinki Lamba Club, Wez Atlas

22.06.22 / Hamsterdam Records / UK.PROJECT

Listen Where You Like

Full Review

Mystery Train is the lead single from Helsinki Lambda Club’s upcoming EP “Hello, my darkness” and to see them teaming up with Wez Atlas is quite the treat. This is the first time I’m reviewing a HLC song on the blog, so let me tell you a little about them.

The Artist

Helsinki Lambda Club formed in 2013 and their music has been described as having the spirit of garage punk, new wave, and psychedelic. They’re a Japanese alt-rock band that has a wide range and a lot of talent. Their name is well known in the J-Indie scene, and they’ve played festivals and large-scale venues across the country. They’ve also done a bit of touring in Asia, playing Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan. As for the song’s guest rapper Wez Atlas, I recently reviewed his track “Ghost” so check that out for more about him. Busy guy.
Ok, let’s see how the song sounds.

The Song

They had me in the first half, lost me in the second. Really great sound from the start, very electronic, which threw me until the band comes in with a tight pop groove for Wez to flow over. And he sounds great here, playful but with some great lyrics to back it up. The first verse is fully HLC backed and is a great contrast to keep things interesting. The second verse brings some electronic fun followed by a killer groove that Gorillaz would be proud of, and then we hit the chorus again. Sadly this is where the song just kind of stagnates until the end, but it was a fun ride while it lasted. I think they could have lost the last 40 seconds and had a much tighter song.

The stand out here is absolutely Wez, but also props go to the mixing engineer who somehow made the stylistic jumps work together so well. I have no idea where Helsinki Lambda Club ends and the programming begins, and that’s wonderful. The sound could have been a bit thicker at points, but I’m sure we’ll get that on other tracks in the EP. More than anything I can’t wait to hear the rest of the release.

The Verdict
Overall
3.7
  • Composition
  • Performance
  • Song Meaning
  • Production
  • Presentation

Verdict

This Mystery Train collab is the perfect blend of styles. I hope they work together again in the future. Definitely worth a listen.

Reviewed: 22.06.29 / Reviewer: EB

GHOST by VivaOla, Jua, Wez Atlas

GHOST

22.05.25 / HIP LAND MUSIC

Listen Where You Like

Full Review

Yes, the title does mean ghost as a verb.

The Artist

This is the third collaboration between artists VivaOla, Jua, and Wez Atlas, and I hope they do a fourth because they sound great together. A basic breakdown is all I can give you here, so be sure to check the links above to hear their solo work. While still very young, the artists each bring their own unique life experiences to the track. They all have multicultural backgrounds: VivaOla was born in Korea raised in Japan. Jua was born in Hawaii and has Japanese, French and Cameroonian heritage. And Wez Atlas was born in Japan but raised in Colorado. It seems they met through music in Tokyo, although I’m shaky on the details. What I do know is that they represent and new wave of artists coming up in the Japanese music scene making some really great music.

The Song

This track is smooth as butter. VivaOla holds up the chorus sections while Wez Atlas and Jua take solo rap sections in the middle. The song is a call for self-love and positivity, and the lyrics do a really good job of getting that across. Each artist approaches the subject in their own way, and though they never sing together they all have the same message. The melodic sections are sung really well, very controlled vocals and a well chosen register for the voice make the part feel like a safe place to return after the lyric breaks. The rap sections are also really good. It’s refreshing to hear the younger generation of rappers in Japan treating the craft as the artform it is. English, Japanese, and French are all featured in the lyrics, giving it a very unique audience. Sadly the song fails to really bring the three artists together, each singer remaining primarily in his own section.

The beat is incredibly minimal and I don’t know if that was the best choice. The intro and outro sound cool but the rest of the song is pretty subdued. For any other R&B song it would be fine but given the message of these lyrics I think a more active arrangement would have been better. At the very least I think giving each artists’ section some kind of climax is bare minimum here. Well, areas for growth for the next collab. Or maybe someone will do a remix. The vocals really do sound great though, and the mix is really clean. So the production value is there.

The cover is a but weird. It feels more like pop somehow? I’m a bit disappointed that given the message of the song is self-care they’ve decided to erase the people from the frame entirely. I mean I get that they were probably just trying to play with the word ghost, but I feel like that would imply we’re the ones they’re ghosting…
Maybe it’s some deeper message that I’m missing, but it seems like a poor choice. The music video is also worth checking out and does a much better job of getting the message across.

The Verdict
Overall
3.2
  • Composition
  • Performance
  • Song Meaning
  • Production
  • Presentation

Verdict

A good song with a great message. The minimal arrangement is functional, but maybe not the best choice given how hard these lyrics hit.

Reviewed: 22.06.14 / Reviewer: EB