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Scape Effect

Mamma Knows Best - Single (2016)

4.0

Review By Dom Otto Asís

June 27, 2016

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Handpicked from Vassar College's cream of the crop comes the birth of Scape Effect. These kids are seriously talented, no question. Mamma Knows Best is just a sampler and this is a good marketing strategy to start with.

Jessie J covers are tough; for me, it all comes down to whether or not the a cappella artist can measure up to her vocal calibre. My worries were gone after the first few passes of listening to Brielle Brook as she proves that she can handle the challenge. The arrangement starts with a testing-the-waters prelude before the real show begins. The arrangers, Hannah Tobias and Matt Goldstein, create a good story-building style that takes us to the different stages of emotion that the song presents in context. It's like the Richter scale, from a mellow warning before developing into to a growling explosion.

When the polyphonic solo riff of each singer begins, that's where my heart starts to feel the love for this track. For me, it is an enjoyable way to emphasize a lyric line by repetition — like John Farmer's line "Up and down he wandered" in the Fair Phyllis I Saw madrigal.

The overall recording is not the best, though, as there are some pops that could be annoying for such a good track. The mixing is spread out in a binaural environment but it lacks a bit of cohesiveness that glue the voices together in some parts. Also, the vocal compression is a bit too much — it prevents the real voice quality of the solo to shine to her maximum potential. There's this "deaf" aftereffect that stays in my head after listening to the track a few times. Although this doesn't mean I dislike the production and mastering — it's still an A-minus, which could launch these fantasic a cappella beasts to their full power.

This group has room to grow, starting from this good benchmark. I hope to hear some more surprises from Scape Effect.

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