Aries New Beginnings

Aries New Beginnings
6
It's been three years since Saskatoon, SK producer Aries collected his songs, past and present, for debut album Now & Then. With his slate clean, he follows the same formula for A New Beginning. Why fix what isn't broken? Many of the same names pop up and the sound is similar, with thumping drums the common denominator on this chilled-out compilation, which is dominated primarily by mellow, contemplative tracks, plus a few big banging anthems. Out of those anthems, "OW" is a highlight, with Anacron's braggadocio and bouncing flow a fine fit for Aries's epic, horn-heavy beat. Birdapres appears twice: once with returning collaborators Moka Only & Def3 ("How We Livin") and solo on "Life is a Wheel," another highlight; Bird's no nonsense flow and metaphorical lyrics work well with the folksy beat and singing. Selfhelp returns with a surreal wake-up call on the dreamy "In A Deep Sleep" and also back is Lord Zen R.eL.Z.M. (the Visionaries) for "Lamb & the Lion," featuring a slightly up-tempo throwback beat with soaring strings and the sparse addition of flute as the backdrop for his Biblical verses. The flow of the album would work better without interruption from teacher and drummer Randy Morin's well-intentioned, worthwhile spoken word pieces, and Aries' "loopstrumentals," which are too long even at two minutes. However, A New Beginning is a solid selection of songs and a sure demonstration of his skills as a producer. (Quality Control)