Producer/DJ Alison Wonderland has already had a big year, including a support slot for Bastille, appearances at numerous festivals, packed warehouses as a headliner and even a set at the official Grammys afterparty. Calm Down marks the first EP of original material under her stage name and with her own vocals.
Despite a repetitive chorus not really going anywhere, the cacophony of menacing trap synths and drum machines makes Cold a penetrating, chilly opener. Wonderland’s vocals are appropriately cool and detached for this track that should generate ghoulish Thriller-like arm movements in tune with the beat.
I Want U and Sugar High (featuring Djemba Djemba) are two saccharine yet sinister tracks. The hip-hop influenced former cut lifts the keyboards off Nicki Minaj’s Moment 4 Life before pulling off epic bass drops backed by fidgety, oriental-sounding synth hooks. The beats are rewarding, as they are darker yet hotter than those on Dark Horse. The latter has the bliss of fairy floss, if it were not for a beat that is hard to find and a vocal-loop-assisted chorus that would make listeners’ heads spin.
The mostly instrumental Lies drips as consistently as a leaky tap, even though its rhythm sounds as if it is constantly changing. Wonderland’s skill is in colouring the rhythm in different shades. Depending on the synth arrangement, the track may sound morbid or euphoric. It may invite listeners to slowly bob to the beat or bounce like an agitated jackrabbit at a rave.
Wonderland’s stint in the Sydney Youth Orchestra has not gone to waste, as a cello can be heard prominently in Space. The synth bass loops, trap beats and processed, echoey vocals successfully conjure a sense of either literal or metaphorical otherworldliness. The closing line ‘so close to being so far’ is rather cryptic; does Wonderland want to come back to Earth?
Calm Down is a decent debut for the rising Sydney-based DJ and producer. It certainly makes up for her meandering set before Bastille last month at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. Therefore, Wonderland should sing more songs that she has written in the future.