Gayance's 'Mascarade' Is a Self-Assured Warning Shot

BY Everett Amber EllisPublished Mar 1, 2023

Montreal-raised producer Gayance's debut LP, Mascarade, is an eclectic fusion of influences that appears to exist in a constant state of evolution. Few, if any, of the tracks featured here exist exclusively as vibe-centric soundscapes or as club-centered dance hits, but rather in a pulsating space between. This middle ground is a testament to Gayance's ambitions from deep within the wider electronic scene, resulting in a stepping-stone of an album that can still stand as its own fascinating (if somewhat disjointed) point of expression.

Mascarade's sound is as local as it is universal. Gayance has found this deeply tried-and-true styling not only from the artists in her immediate vicinity, such as fellow Quebec-based producer Kaytranada and previous collaborator SHERELLE, but also the artists orbiting her sound from a distance; think Nick Hakim or Solange. 

And yet it's tough to fully place Gayance's work exclusively in the categories that define those she most closely resembles. Her house music credentials certainly aren't in question, and R&B influence can't exactly be called out of place in that context. That said, her range becomes far more apparent with nods to gospel, soul, and jazz in her production and choice of featured artists. A song like "Shore Apart", a clear highlight of the record, wouldn't sound much out of place as a deep cut off Kaytranada's 99.9% or Flying Lotus' Flamagra.

The similarly impressive "Moon Rising (10 Years)" is given a solid five minutes to evolve into the sort of song that could stand comfortably as its own self-contained and satisfying single or EP release. Instead, Gayance saves the best for last, letting the track play the album out with the kind of patience and time that perhaps Mascarade as a whole might have benefited more from. Hovering around a 30 minute runtime, an additional few tracks might have better fleshed out her broader scope of styles and influences.

Should Mascarade extend well past playlists and dancefloors, it will do so with an appreciation not only for the level of incredible versatility that its maker exhibits (as well as its many featured collaborators), but also with the clear potential of even better things to come.
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