“Initiation” is the biggest step forward for The Weeknd since their first few tracks dropped about a year ago. Rather than rely on the hazy codeine slog that Abel Tesfaye and the XO crew seem to have settled into, the production on “Initiation” feels nimble and tense, imbued with a new sense of urgency. The track is built on a frantic MPC beat that skitters underneath vocals that have undergone a massive pitch-shifted reconstruction. It's this vocal technique that defines the track, with the continuously warping highs and lows mirroring Abel’s altered state—the aural equivalent of the first-person DMT hallucinations of Enter the Void . Plenty of other artists have used this type of effect before (Fever Ray, Purity Ring, and Kanye West's "Blame Game" come to mind), but few have achieved such a specifically disconcerting result. For an act that detractors say is more style than substance, “Initiation” is as good a rebuttal as could be, and adds a new element to the already bleak world of The Weeknd: Danger.
The Weeknd—Echoes of Silence
Photo: Via The Weeknd