All posts tagged James Blake

Espher – Ultraviolet LP

When producer and visual artist Ben Pearson returned home to Manchester after a year living in Melbourne, fragments of ideas began to blossom into a fully realised project. Ultraviolet, the debut Espher LP, might have began life under a familiar industrial skyline, but it’s clear the world created is both expansive and beautifully imagined. Moments of highly personal introspection intertwine seamlessly with dream-like sequences which float into the unreal.

Album opener Zenith is an 8 minute introduction of cinematic proportions, slowly revealing the scale of Pearson’s ambition; a bold artistic statement that reaches far into the depths of a bleak universe, before pushing at the edges and breaking, exploding, scattering across the sky like dust. Bringing to my mind at least, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine… where humanity finds itself on the brink of oblivion. Themes of life and death, time and travel, technology and nature are intelligently woven throughout Ultraviolet in a lucid electronic tapestry.

Lunar Light Rays are shafts of light that shine through the gaps and cracks in crater walls to illuminate the moon surface. After the apocalypse must come hope. Pearson’s inventive production here is so playful and free – almost like dandelion seeds floating through the wind that you can’t help but be swept along. It’s this ability to marry the light with the dark that makes Espher such an intriguing proposition; everything is lovingly connected.

There’s a sense of looking back with regret on the spiritual Within. Pearson’s blank vocals and brooding melancholy are strangely comforting; ghosts of the past carrying you reassuringly into the next life. Taking influence from James Blake’s gospel-infused electronica, it’s the first moment where I truly felt like I was part of the Ultraviolet story, rather than watching from afar.

For someone as technically accomplished as Pearson undoubtedly is, and with so many individual and contrasting components at work, it’s a miracle he has managed to make Ultraviolet sound cohesive… but always full of surprises. Together is a heartbreaking collaboration with the mysterious Shy Heavens. Lyrically dealing with grief, loss and faith – this is a great pop song hidden in the bloodstream of Ultraviolet’s body.

The album’s true highlight is Mångata; a devastatingly personal reflection, mesmerising in it’s own simplicity. Pearson’s relationship with his piano is one that echoes the minimalist ideals of Nils Frahm and here it takes centre stage – giving emphasis to raw human emotion; loneliness, frustration and a voice that wishes to be heard. With tracks like this, it will be. Sometimes it’s the quietest moments that make the biggest noise.

There are great dancefloor anthems here too. The gloriously propulsive Orchid wouldn’t feel out of place on Jon Hopkin’s masterpiece ‘Immunity’, beats bouncing around like charged atoms waiting to collide with each other, whilst Sufi glows in glorious ambient swirls. Ultraviolet is a triumph in sonic exploration, and Pearson’s arrangements are able to move both your heart and feet; shifting the direction of travel effortlessly from vulnerability to self-belief, from pleasure to retreat.

A trilogy of songs build momentously towards a dizzying grand finale. Machina, a glitchy, androgynous masterpiece, with traces of Kid A era Radiohead – makes me imagine digital raindrops falling to the ground, panic setting in… almost like a dystopian nightmare and an awakening from a dream. Pelog urgently ushers in the end, the ticking of life’s clock and crystalline heartbeats hurrying you towards the brutal and beautiful Guardian … a song that confronts Pearson’s isolation head on, an emotional climax that pirouettes between fear and euphoria. Ultraviolet, although full of individual brilliance, was designed to be heard as a whole – musical chromosomes tied together to form a living, breathing organism.

Ultraviolet by Espher is available now on digital download and limited edition C54 tape
via Ramber Records http://www.ramberrecords.bigcartel.com/product/ram_010-espher-ultraviolet

https://www.facebook.com/Espher.music/

Phill Young

Låpsley – Falling Short

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Liverpool’s latest success story, Holly Låpsley Fletcher doesn’t really need my love in the way some new artists do. It’s not like she’s an unknown at this point struggling to get heard… having deservedly found her way on to the Radio One playlist in the space of a few short months. What Holly does need though is genuine and continued support, because inevitably the hype will die down and her music will rise above it. Latest release Falling Down is a stunning arrangement, one that breaks my heart with every little nuance and sound… her vocals reaching places others are unable to, the very depths of my soul.

https://www.facebook.com/LapsleyMusic

Phill Young

Flo Fairweather – Walls

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“Your faith collapses in love again”

London’s Flo Fairweather is one of a handful of artists that I’ve found myself truly devoted to this year. With each new track she reveals, I see a growing confidence in her ideas. Heartbreakingly beautiful vocals combine seductively with the minimal and atmospheric electronica.

Walls is a revelation: closing in on 6 minutes long, its echoing beats and bleeps build patiently around that voice… at the centre of everything. Like the moon glowing in a cold night sky.

I feel a very real, unexplainable connection with Flo – I want others to feel the same way.

https://www.facebook.com/flofairweathermusic

Phill Young