Oh how I’ve been looking forward to this one. Since I first stumbled across Toronto-based electropop artist Digits, a.k.a. Alt Altman, nearly a year ago, I’ve been waiting for the rest of the world to catch up (and assisting those that I can — my mom and my fiancée love his music nearly as much as I do). Finally, with the songs off of his latest mixtape, Death and Desire, blogs and zines are starting to discover this talented artist.
Digits may belong in the electropop genre, but he weaves R&B into his music at every step, so much so that some songs (like the highlight “So Cold“) sound like they could be Sade covers. Bad Passion, who contribute three songs to this twelve-track mixtape, are actually Altman’s side project, and they focus completely on what Altman calls “super-slow electronic R&B.” And if you’ve listened to the Digits songs I’ve been hyping for months, you already know that this mixtape will sound best late at night, all alone, with a glass of wine in your hand. Altman has a small obsession with the word “Desire” (judging by the fact that three of the tracks in his small catalogue utilize the word in their titles, including two on this collection), and listening to the lyrics, it seems this should’ve been titled Death OF Desire – that’s what most of the songs are about.
We’ve already heard many of these, from the addictive, genuine “Lost Dream” (which placed at #14 on our Top 100 Songs of 2011) to the smooth, sexy “The Face of Desire.” So what about the ones we haven’t heard? The three Bad Passion tracks are all listenable, but none of them capture me the way that Digits’ songs do; “Service,” a gloomy number that asks “do you really want to touch me?”, also belongs under this heading. But the other two newer tracks, “Changes” and “Always Dark,” feature the compelling beats and gorgeous synth lines that I’ve started to take for granted when I press play on a new Digits track. The latter is my favorite, featuring a teasing, circular melody and pensive lines like “the past is gone, but lingers on.”
Mixtapes are more about promotion and getting songs to the public than they are about creating an artistic work, so judging Death and Desire as I would an LP is unfair. That said, the mixtape is more than solid: there are four or five gems and a few other memorable cuts. But to be completely blunt, it would have congealed much better if the Bad Passion cuts had been left off. I highly recommend downloading the whole mixtape, as it’s free below, but if you’re like me you’ll probably end up deleting those cuts to focus solely on the Digits songs. And start getting the word out — the sooner this man can record his debut album, the better!
Stream: Digits & Bad Passion – Death and Desire mixtape