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Album Review: Amber Mark // Three Dimensions Deep

Amber Mark’s debut album chronicles her journey through insecurities, coping mechanisms and the reframing of life’s big questions.

Three Dimensions Deep charts the progress Amber Mark has made on her path forward from crippling fears to the realization not all questions require an answer. Earlier projects 3:33am (2017) and Conexão (2018) have prepared the ground for Mark’s first album by giving her space and time to hone her craft as both a songwriter and a producer before launching into orbit on Three Dimensions Deep.

The most emblematic track of Mark’s re-alignment, “What It Is”, feels so spacious despite its small number of parameters. Mark channels Stevie Wonder with subtle cadence shifts and pristine harmonization. “What is the point of it all?” she asks, caressing the firmament with plush velvet vocals. The sentiment is reprised in stand out “On & On”, where Mark sighs “Feeling like there’s more to life / Wish that I could see the signs” to a fizzy hearty beat.

Three Dimensions Deep reaches far and wide to constitute a holistic experience rooted in Mark’s eclectic influences. “Softly” samples Craig David’s “Rendezvous” and turns the motif into a sensual dancehall anthem that reminds of Shenseea as much as it does Aya Nakamura. The blissful “Foreign Things” marks a return to the universal appeal of the glitzy RnB with which Mark made a name for herself on 3:33am.

The collision of trap and a musical-inspired melody in the uplifting “Healing Hurts” also demonstrates how far Mark is willing to go to expand her palette–but its pay-offs are minimal here. Similarly, “Bubbles” goes full electro-pop with an edge while providing a glimpse at what a Major Lazer, Selena Gomez collaboration would sound like–nothing to write home about.

Still, no matter the genre tapped into, there’s always an intrinsic groove à la Amber Mark; an ear for the percussive pattern that suits her vocals the most for the task at hand. This is made clear by the time “Worth It” comes around, as the beat progresses and morphs from a muted presence into an inexorable force, and later into a boom bap-reminiscent supporting layer. “FOMO” is another notable display of Mark’s ability to create a whole groove out of thin air. The single power of this pop-house anthem is undeniable–not unlike KAYTRANADA’s or label-mates Disclosure’s recent output.

The second half of the album indulges the spatial fantasy more overtly. The listening experience becomes more immersive with “Cosmic”, a strange beast that combines rnb, pop balladry and hints of Kacey Musgraves’ celestial pop-country. Layered on a soothing pulse, the track is meant as an invitation into Mark’s galactic bubble among the stars. And the contrast is stark with follow-up “Darkside”. Mark’s vocals are warped so forcefully it feels like she’s in her own rocket ready for launch while the listener is standing in the control station hearing the song over static. Excitement is palpable throughout as something of epic proportions brews far off in the distance.

Whatever it was “Darkside” was preparing for has long dissipated when “Event Horizon” takes over. It’s the perfect post-script set in some removed corner of our galaxy, beyond any of the concerns and fears of Three Dimensions Deep. It’s the sound of someone at peace with not knowing all the answers.

Rating

Amber Mark’s Three Dimensions Deep is out this Friday (January 28th) and is available to pre-save and pre-order now.

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Red Dziri

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