Review: VANTAGE - Neo Metro City (Neoncity Records)

The headlining Future Funk producer VANTAGE releases his new album Neo Metro City- a spiritual successor to his biggest album. But does it hold up?

Review: VANTAGE - Neo Metro City (Neoncity Records)

Review by Alyx Poska, from Episode 13 of the Podcast

On December 20th, French producer VANTAGE released his new album Neo Metro City on Neoncity Records. This is his first full length album in almost five years following a string of EPs, collaborations, singles with EDM notables, and remastered past hits being signed up to major record labels. There have been some great songs among these scattered releases but it has been a while since we have gotten a singular full length release.

As the name implies, it’s inspiration came from VANTAGE’s past- and most popular- record Metro City. According to the Bandcamp description it’s an effort to “expand on the first album and delve deeper in the world of Metro City” which sets a high bar that Neo Metro City tries its best to live up to.

The first notable thing about the new album is that it's a sample based album like it's predecessor. It also has the same bombastic treatment of drums that perfectly fuse with the melodies and re-dubbed basslines. However, on Neo Metro City we see VANTAGE turn toward shorter French Touch-style chops that feel inspired by Roule and Crydamore Records.

Another thing that sprung out at me was the collaborations- I was immediately excited to see Amherst on the second track “I Want You”. It's a slice of DJ ready future funk that sets the template for many other songs to come, with parts of the sampled slowly being revealed as the breakdowns approach and segment the melodic sections.

This dance music friendly formula is found on other early tracks like “Dont Need To Know” and “Keep Dancing (ft. Macross 82-99)”, but VANTAGE and his collaborators do their best to shake it up as the album progresses. It does produce stand out tracks when the right sample is selected, like the track “Silverstream” which reminds me a lot of the track “Barracuda” on the original Metro City album and even occupies a similar spot in the tracklist.

VANTAGE showcases his growth as a producer by throwing in effects and processing not seen much on the original Metro City. A slurry of envelope filters, phasing and even ring modulators do their best to bring some sonic diversity to the album. But they mostly seem to make songs go on longer than they need to be. This can be tough for casual listening or those looking for the more pop-flavored structure of songs on his prior albums.

The original Metro City had longer sample clips and some vaporfunk that was paired with the choppier french house style songs, but on Neo Metro City, there isn't much of that to be found. While some songs have added layers of melody, squiggling synth solos and deft effects processing, the album can feel pretty one-note until you dive deeper with repeated listens.

There are clever moments like the callback to Daft Punk’s “One More Time” in the song “Electricity” and the quip at the end of “All Peak Jam (ft. The Phantom's Revenge)”. Speaking of The Phantom's Revenge, this was another cool collaboration to see on first glance and while the track feels a bit overlong, there is some nice development of pads and sample chops throughout the tune. The last collaboration I haven’t mentioned, with DJ2001, is a welcome detour from the straight 4-on-the-floor, showcasing some house-y breakbeats, but the track is more aggressive than the usual groovy fare we expect from VANTAGE.

While it might not go down as one of the legendary future funk albums like the original Metro City, it’s a consistent and cohesive full length album with some highlight tracks like “I Want You”, “Silverstream”, “Keep Dancing”, and the too-short tribute to his biggest single “60//60”, the bonus track.

Overall the album keeps up the high energy expected from future funk and the song placement somewhat mirrors what was in each song position on the original. However, this album doesn't have the same appeal and melodic sunshine for casual listeners and fans of more city pop and nu-disco oriented future funk as opposed to the folks into more repetitive house and french touch tunes made for dancing and DJing.

You can check the album out on VANTAGE’s Bandcamp or on Spotify. There is also a pre-order for the album on Neoncity’s webstore.