The Ocean Beneath is the electronic music project of British musician, composer and producer Matt Burnside. Drawing on influences ranging from house to disco, rock to drum and bass, the Leeds-based artist combines 80’s synthpop elements with modern recording techniques, analogue synthesis and huge melodic grooves to create music that sounds retro, yet exciting and current. Like many electronic artists, he often collaborates with other musicians and vocalists, and has released an impressive amount of outstanding music since 2019. I’ve previously written about some of his releases, and you can check out those reviews by clicking on the ‘Related’ links at the end of this post.
Also based in Leeds, Jessica Blaise Ward is a multi-faceted Renaissance woman of sorts, Not only is she a professional composer who’s written music for audiobooks, video games and soundtracks, she’s also a pianist, vocalist, and a senior songwriting lecturer at Leeds Arts University, with a special interest in pop music of the 1980s and 1990s. Her solo work has ranged from cinematic (her 2019 single “Ghost”) to synthwave (“Strangers in the Dark” also in 2019) to synthpop (“Futures Promise” in 2021). She’s also collaborated with numerous artists and musicians on multiple projects, including ghostwriting for Manchester metal band 40,000 Leagues, and co-writing albums with former punk artist Andrew Bishop. She’s currently synth player and vocalist for band The State of Georgia.
“Fluorescent Light” was co-written and produced by The Ocean Beneath and Jessica Blaise Ward, and mastered by Stephen Kerrsion. The beautiful artwork was designed by kiki_and_elvis_create. About the song, Burnside says its “a synthwave nostalgia trip touching on our courage, inner strength and determination. It’s about showing the world what you’ve got and taking ownership of your own story. Do it with your head held high and your intentions strong. ‘Fluorescent Light’ is an anthem for empowerment, positive action and making the world in your own design.“
The song opens with gauzy atmospheric synths that slowly build with added percussion as Jessica emphatically sings in her clear, arresting voice: “With a soul so bright, in the name of fight or flight, I made a promise to never let the world take my hand. And I made a deal in fluorescent lights, that I would make the world in my own design.” As the song progresses, the powerful beats and swirling darkwave synths ebb and flow in the verses and choruses, ultimately erupting into a gorgeous sweeping cinematic soundscape in the final chorus, Jessica’s vocals soaring to an impassioned crescendo that raises goosebumps. It’s a magnificent song!
Here’s the song on Soundcloud:
And on Bandcamp: