Let’s talk about Potential’s Normal, the album known as Normal by the trio known as Potential. What lies on this collection of sounds organised in a way that equals the sum of its parts, and possibly more than?
Well, songs, really.
Normal starts with a deep voice followed by minimal, pounding percussion. “Badlands” spreads from this with an arid, atmospheric sound. It remains low, crawling, seemingly disconnected and detached throughout and concerns itself with permeation as a form of outreach.
What follows next is “Non-Zero Sum Game”. It thumps and thuds with synth pulsing and shimmering as though some sort of bright noise above. Saxophone heaves and rocks and rolls with the beat and vocals, seemingly strained, seemingly yelled and spoken crest and fall. Throughout there’s a sort of fast and slow motion going on that works well with the constructed noise good deal of constructed noise, and the song keeps thundering on until suddenly stopping, leaving the synth to briefly linger.
“The Observer” is perhaps a bit more of a cold and claustrophobic, sort of darkwave track. Vocals hang in a thick air whilst bass rumbles on; When synth comes in it seems to press down whilst saxophone rises and flicks. Gradually the vocals expand until all of Potential layer over each other whilst keeping room for space. It helps further the song’s mood through adding without diminishing what else is going on.
“Destructive Normality” is perhaps a bit more sad, or at least it seems that way. The beat remains steady and perhaps more dancy than Normal‘s prior tracks; the bass still rumbles, and the synth and saxophone play low, so to speak. Vocals remain predominantly ethereal and floaty but seem to stretch. “Destructive Normality” goes through states of lightness and heaviness, but it remains gentle throughout. Perhaps it is deceptively gentle, hence the title.
The penultimate “Phosphorescence” seems to reflect a few prior songs whilst being its own thing. It’s gentle and steady, and perhaps less “dark” than what came prior, or at least it’s looking into something a bit brighter. The addition of strings works well as a contrast; They start as brief flashes before expanding outward and flowing through the surrounding sounds. Their sense of drama increases but it never becomes overbearing and matches everything else quite nicely..
“Phospohrescence” is sort of a breather in ways and it’s at the right place. Even though closer “Chronic Gains” isn’t as intense as it could be, it’s still a shift back up in terms of energy, what with it making use of a steady dance beat to build off. The vocals remain gentle still, as does the bass, synth and sax and all the other noise, and there’s something really atmospheric about it, but it’s also a really punchy closer. Relatively everything feels closer and more active. It’s a driving track and works well in wrapping up the album.
All of Normal is really good. There’s something primal about it, but it doesn’t feel raw and overbearing; It’s a solid mood piece. You can dance to it, or you can actively take it in whilst doing nothing. It’s also effective listening to it passively.
Normal is available here.