CD Review

Provision – “Evaporate” & “Visualize”

By Marcus Pan

EvaporateWhile overdone a bit, Provision at least do give us some no-nonsense frilly new-wave synth pop. It’s kind of refreshing after being inundated with such darker sounds and ambience lately. The main problem is there’s a lot of this out there, so standing above the pack is going to be hard to do. Provision’s Evaporate album does a good job, but seems to be a little stock like – almost an “oh I think I’ve heard this song before” feeling permeates a lot of the album.

In 2002, when Evaporate came out, Provision were made up of Breye Kiser and Leslie Hyman. Breathe opens us here with bright keyboard melodies and smooth male vocals punctuated with femme answers. In Love uses a stock, but comfortable, rhythm and bass percussion system which would have probably benefited from a little switching about and the higher melody is a bit contrived. This is pretty much the gist of most of Evaporate – deja-vu feelings of hearing it before. Nothing bad, mind, but…expected. There’s nothing here that really shocks you up.

By 2004 Provision have added Jen Foxx and Charles M. to the lineup. The release of Visualize shows a definite improvement over the previous Evaporate in that it’s more prevalent, a bit stronger and seems to be more sure of itself. While Evaporate was decent and glided past without incident, Visualize is instead a bit more powerful in its inclinations towards you, like Provision has grown up a little or the addition of the new two members add more power to its punch.

VisualizeEven from the start, Visualize’s In November uses interesting stabs of metallic synths and the music is much more complicated somehow and blends better. It’s not something I can point to and say “I like Visualize better than Evaporate because there’s more of this!” It‘s just simply better, more mature. Could’ve Had it All keeps up the trend of being synth-pop, but interesting synth-pop. A swift rhythm around which is wrapped tinklings of high-pitch keyboard melodies anchored at subtle intervals.

Vocals seem more sure of themselves also since the previous album. By Obvious the album slows down a bit and becomes comfortable while Chemistry begins a tribal beat and wraps very computeresque synth styles around it. And with songs like Illusion, Provision shows how they can mix it up now – the formula isn’t there or if it is it’s not as straightforward. The music doesn’t follow the vocals as precisely, creating an interesting arrhythmia in the song’s sound.

Provision’s two albums show a progression from standard fare to more interesting endeavors. I like the chance to see how a band matures, grows and gets better at their craft and it’s apparent from Evaporate to Visualize. Whether it has more to do with growth or the doubling in size of the musical outfit is unknown, but whatever it was worked. Admittedly, it is hard to stand out in a genre that has been around so long such as that of synth-pop, but Provision already show a radical maturity in two years that one can only wonder how much further they can go and if they can become a classic of the form.

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