AMNESTY 2013: BFLECHA - B33
A little layover in Spain for some R&B…
Mallory O’Donnell: The icy, woozy, seductive future-n-b of ßeta has already been my soundtrack for much of this winter. “B33” might be one of the more familiar-sounding tracks, but even dozens of spins in there is still a mystique in the way Vidal combines contemporary elements from disparate genres and then applies a magical, hazy Galician gloss over them. What’s not mysterious at all is the raw warmth animating the electro parts, with even the cleanest, most synthetic sounds pulling you in to bask in their glow. Perfect and timeless.
Andrew Casillas: Who would have figured that the most authentic Aaliyah-aping pop singer on the market would arrive from Spain? Not that I’m diminishing BFlecha’s very good βeta, it’s just that the similarities are so damn right. “B33” arrives with all the right trademarks, especially those effortless sultry vocals which wrap around your gut and tighten your lower half. Fuck Buzzfeed, this is what I miss about the 90s.
Alfred Soto: Steeped in 2000s R&B diva pop but whose circuitry is up to the moment, this single doesn’t quite enter la cuarta dimension of BFlecha’s wishes but does just fine in el tercer.
Anthony Easton: I have listened to this maybe five times in a row, and eight or nine times in total, and I say maybe because I am not sure how often I have. It’s not that it’s that memorable, or that I don’t know why I hate it, and feel a pang of due diligence. It’s also not exactly boring, but it slid by me, with a gleam of sufficient professionalism to be solidly ignored.
Juana Giaimo: BFlecha’s ability to manipulate electronics is flawless in “B33” — but what makes it a pop gem is its sensibility. The glossy synths and sharp beats are just ornaments to her slightly dreamy voice singing about a fourth dimension and vacations in Venus. However, rather than coming off as a fantasy, it all seems like a real journey into outer space looking for her beloved. Maybe it is a little peculiar, but isn’t it charming too?
Jonathan Bogart: The Timbaland-aping drum line, moving subliminal hips, gives her a stronger propulsive energy than the rest of the production’s chassis can really sustain. It’s not really surprising that the song shakes to pieces halfway through, moving too slowly and with too little range of motion to live up to the power coursing through it.
Brad Shoup: I’ve never been particularly awed by the architecture of R&B’s acclaimed ice castles. It takes far too long for me to adjust to the temperature, and meeting the ruler is usually an underwhelming experience. “B33” begins with dispiriting signifiers: the flat vox (the BGVs are even flatter), the yawning synthbass. Vidal feints at a little vocal skip, but she saves the playfulness for the production. The hi-hat revs and recedes like an off-peak factory press; some guy trapped in a synth mews his distress for a few bars. Then it’s back to BFlecha’s skip, and a scaling organ line that puts the flag on the turret. Turns out these castles just need a good haunt.
Patrick St. Michel: I keep waiting for all of those steel-grate electronics to pick up in intensity and burst into something that would be welcome in the middle of “BEST TRAP MIX AUGUST EDITION” or whatever. Thankfully, BFlecha never gives into that boneheaded idea, and instead lets “B33” move along at its own unhurried rush, letting the vocals shine through.
Rebecca A. Gowns: BFlecha (or, B”arrow”) shoots for a sci-fi odyssey, slipping in phrases like “ecuaciones para cruzar el cielo tú y yo” (“equations to cross the sky, you and I”) and “rumbo a la cuarta dimensión” (“heading towards the 4th dimension”), and I’d say she’s on the mark, but not quite dead-center. The end result is not earth-shattering, but still nice; chill vaporwave that moves just fast enough to dance to. I get the most satisfaction from the replay, but that’s mainly because the song is so slight to begin with.
Crystal Leww: Wow, this is how you do a slow simmer correctly. The way that this beat builds is sigh-worthy, and indeed, BFlecha sighs all over this beat that hits several change-ups, ending in a place totally different from where we started. Though the vocal styling is that of new wave R&B, she conveys a type of feeling that has only been seen in the best of the genre, from Solange at her best or Cassie circa 2006. The vocal layering on this is nothing short of extraordinary: nothing is superfluous! There are no runs there to impress. Nothing, not beats nor voice, fills space for the sake of filling space.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Belén Vidal is one of the people behind Spanish label Arkstera Discos, an imprint with a discography of post-dubstep beat records, the type that are undulating and a little off yet cool as a cucumber. On “B33”, Vidal appears to be pulling from the best that her tastes allow, singing over a track that skirts by R&B and broken beat without falling onto either side - she’s nimbly and authoritatively navigating the “fourth dimension” that she mentions in passing. It’s a great showing, the right way to go from label boss to label figurehead — as cool with its melodic pirouetting as it is with the mysterious, creeping ambience that closes the track.
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This was my pick for the The Single Jukebox’s Amnesty Week, where each writer chose a song released this year that wasn’t covered. I love this song. It is as simple as that. I simply love it. You have no idea how much I listen to it and how much I enjoy it every time. However, when I had to write something, it was a lot harder than what I thought it would be. Still, all the other writers could give some very nice thoughts. A 7.55 isn’t bad for the jukebox, right?