The Ocean Beneath ft. Jessica Blaise Ward – Single Review: “Fluorescent Light”

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:

Connect with The Ocean Beneath: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp

Connect with Jessica: TwitterInstagram

Stream her music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud

SKAR DE LINE – Single & Video Review: “No Eyes in Paradise”

Skar de Line is the solo music project of singer-songwriter, producer and composer Oskar Abrahamsson, a thoughtful, charismatic and innovative artist born and raised in Sweden and now based in London, England. Fascinated by the concept of boundaries and the human obsession for self-understanding, he fuses his love for cinematic soundtracks by such composers as Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL and Ramin Djawadi with hip-hop, alternative rock and electronic metal to create dark, unconventional music that takes the listener on a sonic adventure while giving us a lot to think about. The multi-talented fellow writes, performs, records and produces all his own music, as well as writing, directing and editing all his imaginative music videos.

I’ve featured Skar de Line numerous times on this blog, most recently last May, when I reviewed his single and video for “Reset”, the first chapter in his autobiographical suite of music. The song explores the concept of wanting to become a better person through continually evolving and reinventing oneself, but fearing that nothing will ever be good enough, expressed in the lyric “Every time I open my eyes I kill an old version of mine. But I’m not a murderer, no, I’m a maker./ Every time I close my eyes, I am already set to reset.”  He followed in July with the second chapter “New Silhouettes”, a song about having the freedom to make your own choices in becoming whoever or whatever you want to be, with no limits on how many different options you can choose. Now he returns with “No Eyes in Paradise“, the third chapter of his personal journey of self exploration and the need to understand himself.

With this song, he ponders his own sense of self-worth as an artist, believing that he’s creating works of value and merit, but fearing that if no one else sees nor acknowledges it, does any of it mean anything? He explains: “You can be great, you can want to do well for yourself and for people around you, but if no one saw what you did, did it really happen? If your life work is something that the world does not care about, what is your life worth? And are there any limits to what we can’t do to get that attention, that worth? Throughout the lyrics, there is this growing frustration in the world around me, a feeling that I think every creator recognizes. A feeling that the world does not actually really get you.” For both song and video, he uses classical imagery to bring his message to life. Here’s a photo of him in a setting similar to the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of Mona Lisa (in which he’s undeniably more attractive):

Though all of his songs have cinematic elements, “No Eyes in Paradise” is his most grandiose and melodically complex yet, blending dramatic choral and symphonic elements with bold hip hop beats and heavy electronics to create a magnificent soundscape. The song opens with a soaring gospel-like choral, then quickly segues into a dark trip hop groove, with harsh industrial synths and finger snaps as Skar de Line raps the opening verses. As the song progresses, the music alternates between trip hop verses and sweeping symphonic choruses, punctuated with delicate piano chords and gorgeous string synths. His emotive vocals go from seductive, slightly sinister rapping in the verses to impassioned entreaties in the choruses, creating a strong sense of tension and emotional angst.

I’ve got this presentation that will surely blow your mind
This is an invitation to a god-damn paradise
The only thing I ask for is another pair of eyes
Cause what you never saw it never happened, right?

No eyes in paradise
No eyes in paradise
No eyes in paradise
No eyes in paradise

As these doors are left wide open
As my world turns in slow motion
As these walls are steeped in gold
Another bottle’s left unopened
Another story on repeat
Another comment obsolete
Another invite went astray
Another offer thrown away

Did I bathe in the light
Turn inside out
Did I repaint the skies
For empty crowds?
Did I wait for too long?
Have you all moved on?
Am I the architect
Left in paradise?

I still got to trust in some kind of order
Some kind of virtue for which you’ll adore me
But I cannot leave it, you need to sign
And I'm getting restless, I'm out of time
How far do you go for wickedness
to stop being sexy and just grotesque?
If there’s a case, I haven’t found it yet
I can’t imagine or believe that this is it

Did I bathe in the light
Turn inside out

Did I repaint the skies
For empty crowds?
Did I wait for too long?
Have you all moved on?
Am I the architect
Left in paradise?

No eyes in paradise
No eyes in paradise
No eyes in paradise
No eyes in paradise

Like a lamb of God, like a torn façade
Tearing up the scars with no regards
Just come inside, I’ll break it down
It’s a god-damn paradise
How far do you go for wickedness
to stop being sexy and just grotesque?
If there’s a case, I haven’t found it yet
I can’t imagine or believe that this is it
If I offered you a piece of the forbidden apple
Would you trust me to repaint the Sistine Chapel?
Does it matter what I do or what I’ve done?
Would you trust me now if I am the only one?

The brilliant video Skar de Line created for the song is his own interpretation of a perfect, but empty, paradise. Throughout the video, he recreates and inhabits some of the most renowned renaissance paintings such as The Last Supper (Leonardo Da Vinci), The School Of Athens (Raphael), and Saint Jerome Writing (Caravaggio), all in his desire to make something special that others will care about. He elaborates: “But like an architect left in paradise, a creator in a world that does not need more creations, I’m feeling like I’m falling behind and running out of time to make a difference. Maybe I’ve gone about it wrong. In the final scenes, as I’m leaving my paradise behind to walk out into the dark night, a thought goes through my head. Maybe it’s all a matter of perspective. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not what I do that needs to change, but rather the world in which I do it in…” His creativity and imagination, as well as technical prowess to be able to produce such a beautiful video, are truly impressive.

“No Eyes in Paradise” is Skar de Line’s finest work yet, and I eagerly await the next chapters in his autobiographical suite.

Connect with Skar de Line: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on  Amazon

A.WAKE – Single Review: “Railings”

A.Wake is the musical moniker of Anita Wake, a fascinating and innovative singer-songwriter and musician based in Sheffield, England. She’s been a member of several bands, in which she played bass and sang backing vocals, and more recently, decided to start creating music as a solo artist. With a keen interest in sound therapy, mysticism and the healing properties of music, she seeks to incorporate healing frequencies and modern music elements into her songs.

She released her enchanting debut single “Lemuria” this past July, and followed in October with her darkly stunning second single “Railings“, which I’m featuring today. Inspired by an idea by r. Crampton, A. Wake wrote and recorded the song, sang vocals and played keyboards, while Steve Hulme produced the track. About the song, A.Wake says “‘Railings’ is a modern synth sound song, embedded with a healing frequency to align the heart chakra, to help heal feelings of sadness and loss.”

Opening and closing with sounds of pealing church bells, the song is both beautiful and haunting. The dramatic and stunning swirling orchestral synths have a mysterious quality, punctuated by moments of piercing sharpness and booming percussion, all of which create a ghostly cinematic soundscape. A.Wake’s layered vocals are bewitching mix of mellifluous croons and breathy whispers, adding to the song’s spooky ethereal vibe. Though I cannot pinpoint exactly where the healing frequency lies within the song, I will say that the sounds and overall aura are so powerful and resonant, I can feel its existence.

The lyrics are sung from the perspective of someone who’s already passed away to a loved one who’s still living and missing them, trying to reassure and comfort them in their grief: “The railings round my grave, hold ivy for you. You are not to blame, I died before you. Heaven is to blame, I’ve cried for you. Patience is the game, I’m trying to be. Saying your name. I feel you near me. Looking at your frame, I watch you watch me. If I could hold you just a day. If you could hold me in some way, I’ll know.”

The video for “Railings” was created by PSYNC and directed by Douglas John Thorp, with images of A.Wake singing the song superimposed against footage of her in a Sheffield cemetery shot by Thorp and Rob Cohen. Thorp had this to say about its creation: “There’s a beautiful simplicity to it, dealing with love & loss across the divide that needed a stripped down approach to match. All the shots are hand-held in one location & the video splits itself into two halves: yearning & the possibility of rebirth. Fans of Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommar’ may spot a few unashamed influences here, particularly the use of strong daylight as an unsettling presence. Perhaps also some of the 1970s British folk horror tropes where landscape & natural sounds signify something altogether more disturbing.”

Connect with A.Wake: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream her music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudBandcamp

HULLAH – Single Review: “Wild as the Wind”

One of my best new finds of 2022 has been British singer-songwriter, producer and sound designer Charley Hullah, who goes by just his last name, stylized as HULLAH. I first learned about the handsome, talented and highly engaging London-based artist as a result of being a guest moderator for the BBC Music weekly song competition Fresh On The Net, for which he’d entered his gorgeous single “Chasing Trains”. I loved it the instant I heard it, so much so that it ended up spending 20 weeks on my Top 30 chart, going all the way to #1.

Born and raised in the Midlands, HULLAH relocated to London in 2013 to study songwriting at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, where he earned a B.A. Since graduating, he’s worked as a creative freelancer in the music and media industries, writing and producing music for his solo act, as one-half of the electro-pop duo Futuretape (currently on hiatus), and for other artists, as well as sound-designing for theatre, creating digital content, organising music workshops and working on events such as the Artist and Manager Awards. Most recently, he became Content Manager for Disabled Students UK, and has held the role of Content Manager for Alight Media where he developed a content delivery department for high budget nationwide out-of-home media campaigns.

According to his bio, HULLAH “creates music inspired by a passion for nightlife culture and stories from the queer community. Wrapped in the sonic flavours of trip-hop, 90’s house and synth-pop, his tracks emulate a nocturnal spirit and are complemented by the themes of city living, alienation, ambition and a sense of dejection – commonly expressed through his lyrics. His songs, both introspective and solitary, offer insight into how he navigates his way through the noise and distortion of everyday city life.” His music is inspired by such acts as as Everything but the Girl, Real Lies, Portishead and Pet Shop Boys.

He’s just released his third solo single “Wild as the Wind“, and it’s every bit as magnificent at “Chasing Trains”. Written and produced by HULLAH and mixed by Matt Catlow, the track features more of the lush, sultry vibes I loved on his previous song, but with even more sound textures that take it to a higher, more sophisticated level. Whereas “Chasing Trains” was entirely electronic, “Wild as the Wind” is anchored by a deep, sensuous bassline played by fellow musician Gabrielle Ornate, and fortified with spine-tingling distorted guitar work played by Orlando Sadler. HULLAH explains: “I knew that I wanted and needed live instrumentation on this one so I reached out to my great friends Gabrielle and Orlando. Gabrielle laid down killer bass on this that just glues the whole track together. It packs a gut-punch. Orlando mirrored the sense of dejection in the soundscape and lyric by creating these huge, distorted synth-like guitar lines that create an awesome atmosphere.”

Well, I have to say that together, they’ve created something quite spectacular. “Wild as the Wind” is a dramatic, hauntingly beautiful little masterpiece. The combined warmth of Gabrielle’s sensuous throbbing bassline and HULLAH’s plaintive sultry vocals contrasts with – yet perfectly complements – the icy soundscape created by the ghostly industrial synths. There are so many wonderful little instrumental touches heard throughout the track, like the sparkling keyboards and delicate jangly guitar notes. I’ve been listening to it on endless repeat.

As to the song’s meaning, HULLAH elaborates: “‘Wild as the Wind” is an ode to the wilderness I feel inside myself – the parts of myself I don’t understand and have to grapple with. It’s about trying to make friends with your own insecurities, worries, dread, hopes and desires – the things you don’t quite understand but that equally push and pull you in life nonetheless. There’s the ‘us’ that we present to the world and then there’s the ‘us’ that we are when we are alone, uncomfortably alone. That’s what I mean by wilderness, the space in between those two versions of yourself. ‘Wild as the Wind’ is about not trying to contain this wilderness – it’s about truly seeing those aspects of yourself and attempting to accept and be at peace with them. The song was initially written about two people in my life that were going through hard times. As I kept writing, I later realised that it also reflected my own experience navigating this wilderness I felt they were also battling with.”

You've spend a lifetime looking for something on the other side
You could spend another drifting like you do
All that guilt and history is like a thorn caught in your sleeve 
I know the pain, the hurt and how you yearn to let it go

And I can't save the soul you hold
And I can't save you on my own
I can't do that, but you can't see that
If you don't swim now you will drown

You're as wild as the wind
And I can't catch you
Cause you're as wild as the wind
And I can't cage you

You're so warm outside, but so cold within
A smile is a wall that's caving in
You're breathing to a rhythm that you can't play
Little feet don't make big steps without 
Soles that can tread some hard ground
So how many years will be lost before you finally take the reins?

There's no escaping a wild mind
No easy way to win the fight
But you must fight back
You must see that all that you need is in yourself

Cause you're as wild as the wind
I can't catch you
Cause you're as wild as the wind
And I can't cage you
You're full of grace and gold
So let the wind be what you know
And be as wild as the wind
And let it take you

Though time is all you fear
And nothing is all you feel
Keep on running for a reason
Just let that reason be your life

Connect with HULLAH:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream his music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud 

Purchase on Bandcamp

WINACHI – Single Review: “Heaven in Hell.A”

British electro-funk/soul collective WINACHI are all about fun and having a good time. Their infectious sexy grooves – which they describe as “swaggering Mancunian tenacity spliced with smooth Californian G Funk soul” – are guaranteed to have you shaking your ass with a smile on your face.

Based in and around Manchester, WINACHI originally formed in 2015 as The Winachi Tribe, and have undergone a few personnel changes over the years. They’re now comprised of founding members Liam Croker (lyrics and vocals), Antony Egerton (keyboards, programming) and Inder Goldfinger (percussion), along with Andy McKay (lead guitar), Richard Ritchie (bass) and Paul Lawrence (drums), all accomplished musicians with diverse musical backgrounds.

I first learned about them in Spring of 2018, around the time they released their funky dance single “Transition”. I instantly loved it, as well as all their subsequent releases, and have featured them on this blog more times than I can remember (you can find links to some of those reviews under “Related” at the end of this post.)

WINACHI has collaborated over the years with musicians and producers in both the UK and Southern California, and this past March, Liam, Antony and Inder returned to Los Angeles to work with producers John X (who’s worked with such artists as David Bowie, the Rolling Stones & Reeves Gabrels) and Joe Hirst (Ian Brown, Bloc Party). Together they recorded the single “Heaven In Hell.A“, which they released along with an entertaining video on Halloween. The song is the lead single from their forthcoming full length debut album Sympathy For The Future, due for release next year. The song and video were recorded and produced at the Earthstar Creation Centre in the L.A. community of Venice.

Musically, the features a delicious signature WINACHI dance groove, over which they layer thick drum-bass beats, spooky psychedelic synths, and lots of funky guitar. Liam’s distinctive vocals, which sit in a sweet spot between sultry and raspy, perfectly complement the music’s mysterious, yet lighthearted, vibe.

As to the song’s meaning, my take is that it speaks to the seductive nature of Los Angeles (Liam loves the city) and how, despite its many shortcomings, it’s also a magical place that can really get under your skin. (I lived there for eight years in the 1980s, and have a conflicted love/hate feeling for it myself.) He uses a demonic she-devil woman as a metaphor for L.A.’s seductive, intoxicating power: “The city’s heart is burning, hotter than the sun, The life you taste upon your breath is the proof you’ve had your fun. The city’s pulse it’s beating to the rhythm of her drum. You know she’s gonna love you, as long as you keep breathing. Once you’re in hell and under her spell, then you know that you won’t be leaving.”

The video, written and directed by Tom Muhl, shows the three members of WINACHI arriving at a party, whereupon they meet a man played by John X and a woman played by Frankie Clarke of L.A. band Frankie + The Studs. They give the guys little black pills that appear to be in the shape of a devil’s head, and soon after ingesting them they start tripping out, with the other party attendees appearing to be zombies with skeletal faces. The guys escape in a car, roaming the nighttime streets of L.A., where they continue to encounter more skeletal demons, and eventually, Antony become a zombie himself. The next morning, Liam is shown chilling on a beach, seemingly relieved that last night’s events appear to have been just a nightmare. But then, he sees the she-devil standing nearby, holding an hourglass and shrieking with macabre laughter.

Here’s just the track itself:

While in Los Angeles last March, WINACHI played a gig at the landmark club The Mint, which, other than for a couple of brief closures, has been in almost continuous operation since 1937. I had the pleasure of finally meeting Liam, Antony and Inder, and seeing them perform some of their songs that I love.

Connect with WINACHI: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon

TOBISONICS – Album Review: “We Need Light in the Dark”

Tobisonics is the music project of Toby Davis, a longtime alternative electro-pop artist, composer, songwriter and music producer based in Luxembourg. A lifelong lover of music, he was born and raised in England, and spent his volatile teenage years in a series of, by his own admission, both ‘awful and awesome’ indie guitar bands. But by his early 20s, his increasing struggles with depression and other then-undiagnosed mental health issues led him to abandon music. By his mid-30s, he felt trapped, socially isolated, and suicidal. Finally reaching a breaking point, he sought the help of a psychiatrist, which led to regular therapy sessions and medication. Years of repressed emotions and music welled up inside him came pouring out as he slowly began to heal.

For several years, he used his creative vision and talents mixing, mastering or remixing other artists and bands’ music, but starting in late 2018, he decided to create his own musical works as Tobisonics. About his moniker, he says “All Tobisonics really means is Tobi sounds. And that’s how I think of myself, as a noisemaker, rather than a musician.”

Like me, Toby is frightened by the unsettling trend of increasing authoritarianism and populist nationalism happening across the globe, in what sometimes appears to be a creeping movement back toward a new dark age. Some of his songs – “Military Industrial Complex“, “Eye of the Storm” and “Putin’s Got a Gun Against Your Head” – addressed those concerns. More recently, he’s made the courageous decision to tackle his own personal mental health struggles on his debut album We Need Light in the Dark, which dropped October 7th.

In April 2021, he began working on what was intended to be 4 – 5 track EP in collaboration with spoken word artist Wee Scots Poet, with whom he’d previously collaborated on his single “All the Little Things”. When that collaboration didn’t work out, Toby needed to find a voice, as he’s not a singer. So, he decided to use vocal samples as he’d done with his first single “All These Things”. We Need Light in the Dark quickly developed into a far more personal story than he had ever intended.

Toby explains: “I wanted to make an album that gave people hope; an album that said, the worse things get, the more we need to find the wonder in life. In these difficult times, optimism isn’t naive, it’s imperative to our survival. In doing so, I ended up telling my own story of ongoing recovery from chronic depression/anxiety and PTSD, the lessons I have learned, and the ones I am still struggling to learn. By using recycled voices, from old public service announcements and Sci-Fi B-movies, I found I could hide in plain sight. I found I could talk about subjects far more personal and painful than I could ever with my own voice.

The seven songs take us on a journey that begins with acknowledgment of emotional pain and poor self-esteem, the struggles of overcoming them, and acceptance of who we are and learning to find glimmers of contentment and peace of mind. On the opening track “Panic“, Toby addresses feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, fearing he’ll never measure up or succeed, which leads to sleepless nights and bouts of panic – something many of us have felt at one time or another. I certainly have. “The trouble is, if you’re not self-reliant, you’ll never do anymore than just get by. You have more assurance but less self control. Panic. All night long.” It’s a fairly short track, lasting just slightly over two minutes, but makes a big impression. Toby starts with a mesmerizing deep synth-bass groove, then layers a fascinating blend of sharp industrial synths, eerie sounds and otherworldly voices, creating a soundscape that’s both unsettling and captivating, and a perfect backdrop for the man’s rather cold, matter-of-fact spoken words.

On “Scream“, he once again uses eerie synths and otherworldly vocal effects to create a disturbing vibe. The biting lyrics are spoken by both an accuser “I always figured there was something wrong with you. Loser. Failed” and the accused, who’s a demoralized victim: “Loser. Failed. Freak. I’m sorry you made me. Emotion. You made me scream.” And on “How Do You Say Life is Wonderful?” he ponders how to remain positive and sane in the face of so much pain (which isn’t openly expressed, but certainly inferred): “How do you say never give up. Life is wonderful? Never give up.” Toby drives home his message with an uptempo Latin dance beat, bathed in colorful industrial synths and almost playful sound effects, all of which beautifully expresses contrasting feelings of sadness and elation.

Snakes” addresses what seems to be a reopening of old wounds and resentment, namely toward those who’ve betrayed him or let him down in the past: “The vision of your future starts to crumble. Snakes. This is why I keep no friends. No friends. What happened? I trusted you. Can not stand the lies.” Musically, the song is haunting and dark, with a hypnotic beat overlain with mysterious industrial synths, punctuated at the beginning by a somber ringing bell. Once again, Toby uses otherworldly electronically-altered voices, backed by a mournful chorus of female vocals, to create an even more unsettling vibe.

On the buoyant nu disco track “You Just Have to Dance“, he acknowledges that he has no choice but to move on from all the pain and resentment, and make the best of the life he has left: “Are you sure you can deal with it? Deal with it? Dance dance. You just have to dance. You just have to dance now. You gotta dance. But you can’t win them all.” On “All I Ever Needed“, he speaks of the fear of abandonment and being alone, and begs a loved one not to leave, in this case, his dog Enzo, who suffers from epilepsy: “The thing that makes the difference here Is the emotion that goes along with him. A great great fear of being alone. Being alone. All I’ve ever wanted. And all I’ve ever needed. Don’t leave. Don’t wanna be alone.” With a somewhat complex melody, dominated by a throbbing dance beat that calls to mind that used on the Donna Summer classic “I Feel Love”, the songs feels at once retro disco, yet freshly current.

That ringing bell first heard on “Snakes” makes a return appearance on the closing title track “We Need Light in the Dark“, which brings everything full circle on the album. Toby now recognizes that he must be the source of his own light in the dark, acknowledging that while bad stuff will still come his way and that life will never be perfect, he must do his best to remain hopeful and positive: “We Need Light in the Dark. We gotta help ourselves. But you can’t win them all. How do you say life is wonderful?” Running nearly five minutes, it’s the longest of the seven tracks, and also the most downtempo. The combination of a languid bass groove, cool spacey synths – highlighted by deliciously funky Prince-esque keyboards – and trippy vocal effects create a bewitching soundscape that nicely conveys a restrained sense of optimism.

We Need Light in the Dark is a fine debut by Tobisonics, beautifully showcasing his masterful composition, arrangement and production skills. I’m touched by his willingness to expose himself to the world through his music, and I hope this album will speak to others who’ve experienced similar mental health struggles, perhaps even helping them to come to terms with some of their own issues.

Connect with Tobisonics: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Amazon

PERPACITY – Single Review: “Granite/Never Let Go”

Perpacity is an electronic music act comprised of British singer-songwriter, composer and producer Ian Harling and Danish singer-songwriter, composer and producer Martin Nyrup (Martin is a also a member of Danish Electronica act Oui Plastique, whose single “The Fear” I reviewed last year.) They’re both accomplished musicians, with over 20 years of experience, and from what I’ve been able to discern from their website and social media accounts, have been collaborating for nearly a decade. Their sound is characterized by haunting melodies, lush electronic soundscapes and driving beats, with thoughtful and compelling lyrics. And while their social media following is rather modest, they have over 3,100 followers on Soundcloud, an impressive figure for an independent music act.

Martin Nyrup & Ian Harling

The released their debut album The Sinner Inclination in 2015, consisting of a previously-written catalogue of early instrumentals and songs. Since then, the prolific duo have released scores of singles and three more albums: Arise, The Order of Now and, most recently, Conflagration in 2020. Now they’re back with a new single “Granite“, along with a B-side “Never Let Go“, both of which will be included on their forthcoming fifth album Discordia. The songs explore the seemingly conflicting aspects of love lost and love found. Martin produced, mixed and mastered both tracks, and Ian produced the video for “Granite”.

Perpacity states that “‘Granite’ is about love lost and the repercussions that follow, finding that you are suddenly alone and vulnerable, whereas ‘Never Let Go’ is its opposite, about love found and the strength and cohesion it brings.” Both songs have a haunting, rather enigmatic vibe, but that’s where the similarities end. “Granite” features a insistent thumping beat, overlain with a pulsating synth bass groove and mysterious swirling synths. Ian’s low-key vocals nicely convey a sense of sad resignation as he contemplates a love that’s slipping out of reach, never to return.

Reading in Fahrenheit,
I'm in flames,
But I feel colder than the rain you left me in again today.
Bleeding but sanitised,
There's no pain,
But every little raindrop,
Is burning in my veins.

Don't let it rain anymore.
I'm washing away I'm not stone.
Don't let it rain anymore,
I'm slipping now don't let me go.

Nearing the danger line,
Overflow,
And the clouds that gather round my head are greyer than before.
Drowning in real time,
You couldn't wait,
You found a friend for shelter,
And let me liquidate.

Don't let it rain anymore.
I'm washing away I'm not stone.
Don't let it rain anymore,
I'm slipping now don't let me go.

Hvad som kommer er mit
Som i hvileløst granit

“Never Let Go” is more introspective, with a gentle, cinematic soundscape that nicely complements, but never overpowers, Ian and Martin’s enchanting vocal harmonies. The moody atmospheric synths and softly soaring strings are really captivating, and I think I actually prefer this track.

I was in denial,
I love LOVE, that you see me.
So let me stand trial,
I love you, now hear me.

I looked to the stars
I love LOVE, when you´re near me.
I carry all the scars,
You see them, you feel me.


You´re my seed to everything
And with water we´ll grow
And I´ll give you anything
Just you hold on and never let go


You´re always by my side
You´re loved LOVED, and I'm near you
When worlds they collide
Together, I´m with you

You and I have come far
You´re loved LOVED, and I am with you
I'm with the northern star
Everything shines up, when with you

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Purchase on Bandcamp

Fresh New Tracks, Vol 12 – IAMWARFACE, Paul Iwan & Lines of Flight/The Ocean Beneath

It’s back to the UK for my latest edition of Fresh New Tracks, and today I’m featuring three powerful new singles by acts I’ve previously featured on this blog – IAMWARFACE, Paul Iwan and The Ocean Beneath, as well as Lines of Flight, an act I’ve not written about before, who collaborated with The Ocean Beneath on the track I’m including.

IAMWARFACE – “The Black Room”

British nu-rock band IAMWARFACE are one of my favorite acts, who I’ve happily featured on this blog many times. From the moment I first heard their explosive debut single “Say My Name” in 2016, I’ve been a devoted fan. Based in Brighton and London, and fronted by the immensely talented and flamboyant singer/songwriter and producer Matt Warneford, their aggressive name is a fitting metaphor for their bombastic groove-based style of electro-rock. Warneford has a commanding presence and powerhouse singing voice, with the ability to raise our adrenaline with his dramatic impassioned vocals. Since their debut, they’ve continued to deliver one incredible song after another. Three of their singles – “Say My Name”, “Closer” and “Fear the Future” – have reached #1 on my Weekly Top 30 chart, with “Closer” ranking #58 on my Top 100 Songs of the 2010s.

With their latest release, “The Black Room“, IAMWARFACE deliver more of their signature incendiary rock we’ve come to love and expect. I love their massive sound, highlighted by searing riffs, grinding basslines, explosive percussion and moody industrial synths, all of which blend together in a combustible alchemy to create a darkly beautiful backdrop for Warneford’s fearsome vocals. The song was actually written a couple of years ago, and has been played by the band in their live set for a while. They decided it was time to have it fully mixed and mastered, and released to the world, and we fans are glad they did! It’s another sparkling gem in their unbroken string of superb singles.

Connect with IAMWARFACE:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

PAUL IWAN – “CONTROL”

Another long-time favorite of mine is singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul Iwan, who’s based in Liverpool. We’ve been following one another on social media for nearly six years as well, and I’ve also written about him and his music numerous times. Paul’s an outstanding guitarist and songwriter, with a strong, resonant and emotive vocal style. His powerful single “Reward”, which was a cover of the song originally recorded by Liverpool new wave band The Teardrop Explodes, spent four months on my Weekly Top 30, and ranks #50 on my Top 100 Songs of 2020.

Paul has just released a powerful video for “CONTROL“, one of the songs from his forthcoming album PRESENT, due for release on April 8th. The video, filmed and directed by Scott Mealey in Waterloo Methodist Church in Liverpool, shows Paul performing the song against a backdrop of historic imagery of troubling events and strife, courtesy of TechNoir. Of special note is that Paul is playing his beautiful 1965 lime green Framus guitar, once owned by The Teardrop Explodes frontman Julian Cope, which he purchased in a broken state and lovingly restored. Paul, who has struggled with PTSD and addiction, states that the song is a confrontation of fear, and a reminder of the power within us all to overcome those fears. For the recording of the track, Paul played the blistering guitars, haunting piano keys and sweeping synths, Jim Duncan played additional guitar and Steven Burkert played drums.

Connect with Paul Iwan: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

THE OCEAN BENEATH & LINES OF FLIGHT – “Strands”

The Ocean Beneath is the electronic music project of Leeds-based musician, composer and producer Matt Burnside. Influenced by bands such as Gunship, HVOB and Talk Talk, he combines 80’s synthpop elements with modern recording techniques, analogue synthesis and huge melodic grooves to create music that sounds retro, yet fresh. Like many electronic artists, he often collaborates with other musicians and vocalists, and has released a sizable amount of terrific music, some of which I’ve reviewed previously. His enchanting collaborative single “Skin”, with Leeds-based singer-songwriter and electronic musician Fran Minney, earned a spot on my Top 100 Songs of 2020 list.

Lines of Flight are a Leeds-based dreamwave/synthpop/electro-folk duo comprised of Matthew Henderson and Helen Whale. They started collaborating as strangers at the beginning of the lockdown in March 2020, recording songs using only iPhone handsets & headphones. Their sound is influenced by Depeche Mode, Joy Division, OMD, Gary Numan, The Cure, New Order and Eurythmics, all acts who are also strong influences for IAMWARFACE. In the two years since they began, they’ve released 10 singles. Their latest single “Strands“, a collaboration with The Ocean Beneath, is their eleventh.

The origin of “Strands” began as a series of 20 tweets written by Matthew starting around Christmas 2019 and continuing through 2020 and 2021, about his personal struggles, painful memories of the loss of his father that seemed to cast a pall over every Christmas, the fact he was about to be a father for the first time, and the value of music to help him get though it all. After publishing them as one coherent piece he named “Strands” in December 2021, The Ocean Beneath urged Matthew to record these tweets as a spoken word piece. Together, The Ocean Beneath and Lines of Flight then composed a hauntingly beautiful ambient instrumental to go with the written piece. There are two tracks, the first with Matthew’s spoken vocals, and the second an instrumental-only piece.

Connect with The Ocean Beneath: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Connect with Lines of Flight:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

KÅRP – EP Review: “KRIS”

KÅRP is a rather enigmatic band based in Gothenburg, Sweden who make fascinating electronic music they describe as “death disco”. Fronted by breathy-voiced singer Anna-Maria Lundberg, their dark, ethereal sound has been compared with fellow Swedish acts The Knife, Kite and Lykke Li. Their love for the paranormal, outer space and the apocalyptic state of current affairs are recurring themes in both their music and lyrics. They released their debut single “Therapist^2” in 2017, followed by several more singles that culminated in the release of their beautiful self-titled debut album KÅRP in 2019. They dropped the single “Left Handed” in 2020, then in December 2021, they released “It Looks Bad”, the first single from their planned triptych of EPs to be released throughout 2022. The first of the three EPs KRIS, released on January 27, is the subject of today’s review.

The triptych series are intended to represent the three stages of the apocalypse: Chaos, Silence and the New World Order. KRIS explores the downfall of society, with all it’s attendant chaos and disorientation, and thus sounds the darkest of the three. KÅRP elaborates: “The world is burning. The police are shooting innocent people to death. Natural disasters and wars are forcing families to flee for their lives. The barbed wire gets sharpened by the wealthy nations’ borders and a pandemic is closing our societies down in a way that’s never been seen before. We started working on this trilogy after the release of our debut album in 2019. At that time you could sense the downfall like a darkness at the end of the tunnel. We soon realized that the apocalypse was already here. That’s why the first leg of this triptych of EP’s is pretty dark sounding. The next one will be slightly more mellow. And on the last one, we’re allowing ourselves a few major chords and some hope.

The EP opens with the enchanting title track “Kris“, relatively brief piece that seems to serve as an introduction to this first installment of the triptych. KÅRP layers skittering eerie synths over a undulating synth bass groove to create a lovely but unsettling backdrop for Anna-Maria’s bewitching ethereal vocals. As its title suggests, things turn decidedly darker on the next track “It Looks Bad“. The harsh industrial synths are both spooky and beautiful, hovering over a powerful beat and heavy, pulsating rhythm, nicely conveying a sense of global upheaval. Anna-Maria laments to her child of the impending chaos and uncertainty that’s about to turn their world upside down: “Oh sweetheart, what to do with your pictures from school. The butterfly collection and your wild diaries, the family tree. Bring out the matches ‘cuz nobody will be here. No more grounds to stand on, nothing to grow here.”

I can’t quite make out the meaning of “Humdrum“, but it’s a sonically gorgeous track, with a colorful soundscape of intricate spacey synths, galloping beats and Anna-Maria’s fervent ethereal vocals. And on the marvelous “Honey Play“, KÅRP reaches deep into their sonic arsenal to produce a haunting, cinematic song befitting a soundtrack for an epic sci-fi or apocalyptic film. The sweeping industrial synths, powerful driving rhythms, and Anna-Maria’s soaring vocal harmonies are spectacular. The lyrics speak of standing up to dark forces trying to divide us: “I’ve already decided you can’t force me. You don’t understand all that matters. I’ve already decided you can’t force me. You want us to play under your division.”

I’m a big fan of electronic music, and KÅRP makes some of the most dramatically beautiful that I’ve heard in a while. KRIS is a stunning work, and I’m really looking forward to hearing the next two installments of their tryptich.

Connect with KÅRP:  FacebookTwitterInstagram 

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase:  BandcampAmazon

WINACHI – EP Review: “Parasitical Elimination EP”

British electro-funk collective WINACHI (formerly The Winachi Tribe) make some of the most deliciously catchy and dangerously sexy music of any band around today. Formed in 2015, and based in Warrington, which is situated roughly halfway between Liverpool and Manchester, the group has undergone a few line-up changes over the years, and now consists of founding members Liam Croker (lyrics and vocals) and Antony Egerton (keyboards, programming), Inder Goldfinger (percussion), Andy McKay (lead guitar),  Richard Ritchie (bass) and Paul Lawrence (drums). Inspired by such legendary acts as Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone, Primal Scream, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Massive Attack, The Stone Roses, Talking Heads, D’angelo, Prince and Daft Punk, their infectious blend of funk-infused electro dance/pop serves up more grooves than a jukebox full of vintage 45s.

They’ve collaborated over the years with musicians and producers in both the UK and Southern California, and released several critically acclaimed singles and remixes, a number of which I’ve reviewed (you can read some of them by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post). And while their songs touch on oft-covered topics like heartbreak, pain, mental health and even politics, their overriding message is always one of joy, positivity and love. WINACHI have built a growing fan base through their exciting live shows and touring with The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, The Sugarhill Gang & The Furious Five. They’ve also garnered airplay and press both at home and abroad on radio stations like BBC 6 Music and L.A. public ratio station KCRW, and publications such as The L.A Times, L.A Record, Manchester Evening News and Billboard China.

In anticipation of the upcoming release of their long awaited debut album, WINACHI have dropped “PARASITICAL ELIMINATION E.P.“, featuring four collaborative remixes of three of their previous songs by international artists and producers Howie B, Paolo Baldini, Jim Spencer, and Impey. Actually, some of the tracks should more accurately be considered as re-imaginings, rather than remixes, as they take on an entirely new vibe under the guidance of these producers.

First up is “PARASITES PARADISE ft. I Kong (Paolo Baldini Dubfiles Remix)“, the first of two re-imaginings of their 2019 single “Parasites Paradise featuring I Kong”. The original song, featuring guest vocals by legendary Jamaican reggae singer I Kong, is a bouncy electro-soul number about being true to yourself and living a life free from users and ‘parasites’ who want to suck the life out of you or try to dictate how you should live. For this remix, Italian dub producer Paolo Baldini gives the song a makeover by slowing things down a bit and adding a strong dubstep beat that actually enhances the reggae vibe. He then layers swirling industrial synths and funky guitar notes for a nice finish.

The second remix of the song, “PARASITES PARADISE REVISITED ft. I Kong (Impey Remix)” is a re-imagining by young London dub electronica/neo-soul producer Impey. Impey really slows down the original song’s tempo to a languid, almost sensual groove, which also lengthens the track by more than two minutes. He essentially deconstructs the original song and refashions it into something completely different and new, and unlike anything WINACHI has ever done before. I Kong’s vocals are still recognizable as his, but WINACHI lead singer Liam Croker’s electronically-altered vocals sound totally different. The song is darkly beautiful, trippy and mesmerizing.

A ROOM WITH A ZOO (Howie B Remix – Optimum Master)” was actually recorded and released in 2017, and is a remix of WINACHI’s very popular 2016 single “A Room With a Zoo”. I could be wrong, but my take on the song’s meaning is that it addresses the challenges of surviving as an artist in the crazy music business, and making music that’s honest and true. Liam croons “Give my soul back, give my soul back to me. I’ve been giving it up for too long, too long. Selling my heart and my soul.” Howie B is a renowned Scottish musician, producer and DJ who’s worked with a long list of artists, including Björk, U2, Tricky and Siouxsie and the Banshees, among others. On this optimum master of his remix, Howie B refashions the song into a pulsating trip hop extravaganza, with a strong, driving beat overlain with wobbly psychedelic synths and lots of sharp percussive textures and sounds, lending a dramatic new feel to the song.

The final track “SENSE OF DANGER (Spencers Revenge – Jim Spencer Edit)” is a re-imagining of WINACHI’s 2016 single “Sense of Danger”. As the title implies, the song is a dark, almost menacing track about obsessive love, and the original version has a trippy vibe, with a sort of dubstep beat, and highlighted by sinewy electronic synths, spooky organ and Liam’s rather menacing breathy vocals, backed with eerie choruses. The remix by Jim Spencer, a British producer and sound engineer who’s worked with such acts as New Order, Johnny Marr and The Charlatans, gives the song a more cinematic feel by greatly enhancing the dubstep beat, instrumentals and vocals. The dark synths and spooky organ now sound sharper and more well-defined, and the twangy guitar notes and piano are more pronounced as well, injecting added texture and drama into the track.

PARASITICAL ELIMINATION E.P.” is a marvelous little bundle of energy that makes for a very fun listen. It’s always fascinating to hear how producers reimagine others’ songs, and I love what these have done with some of WINACHI’s best songs. The EP will only be available through Bandcamp.

Connect with WINACHI:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  BandcampiTunes / Amazon