Andrew Paschal: “Signal” starts out promisingly enough, with warm washes of analog synths combining with a sparse yet commanding beat and forlorn vocals. It remains in this state for a while, but as the song progresses SOHN chooses to give in to some of the more unfortunate impulses of electronic music, gradually layering distorted synthetic squeals that remind me of what James Blake once referred to as the “pissing competition” of EDM. While not quite approaching that level of grotesque, and at least abstaining from total excess, “Signal” nonetheless leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, like the feeling of waking up having smoked too many cigarettes the night before (or perhaps kissing someone who had). [5/10]
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Adriane Pontecorvo: Like so many of the best stories, Sampha’s new single begins in medias res: he’s a man on the run, full of breathless desperation and a need to keep moving. Suspense fills the track, and the track sounds like it could fill a theater; simple as sparse keys, repetitive drums, and a small choir of voices are, they come together in a cinematic masterpiece, with Sampha’s vocal performance taking top billing. The fear and adrenaline in his voice sit against a hint of melancholy, an added depth that leaves me wanting to know the narrator’s whole story. Regardless of whether or not there ends up being any more to know, “Blood on Me” offers a thrilling slice of aural tension and gives yet another reason to keep a close eye on Sampha’s solo career. [9/10]
Londoner J Churcher recorded parts of his debut album, Borderland State, over the course of two years and then had the fortune of meeting producer Dreamtrak, who helped Churcher fully realize his musical vision. “Finding Roxanne” is a mesmerizing song loaded with emotion that’s underpinned by wall-of-sound synths and Churcher’s evocative and yearning voice. Churcher tells PopMatters that the song is “a homage to the agonies and ecstasies of falling in love”.
Norway’s Apoptygma Berzerk have made a name for themselves throughout Europe for their somewhat gothic synthpop that they describe as “futurepop”. The group formed back in 1989 at the very tail end of the new wave musical movement, which perhaps explains the darker turn in their music from earlier bands more inherently poppy. As the Cure and Depeche Mode evolved into heavier sounds, so too did Apoptygma Berzerk embrace the underside of the often bright and chipper synthpop of earlier ‘80s. Apoptygma Berzerk also have deep and ambitious goals as “The Genesis 6 Experiment” shows.
The band tells PopMatters that the track “unlocks understanding of mythology, legends, ancient history, and religious belief. The supernatural in the natural. The analogue roots of the digital tree.” It’s a stirring song laden with atmosphere and deep grooves. The song will appear on the band’s upcoming compilation, Exit Popularity Contest, due October 7th via the End Records. The album contains the group’s EP trilogy that only previously was available on vinyl.
Musician Gayle Skidmore presents “The Golden West”, the title tune from her upcoming LP. The Golden West is release Number 20 for Skidmore and her first full-length in the vinyl format. The album also arrives with her third adult coloring book.
“The Golden West” marks a return to happiness for the singer-songwriter. She penned the tune during the same 2015 tour that introduced her to her husband. “The last five years of my life were a tumultuous time of loss and hardship,” she says. “My mother went through stage four cancer and a long-term relationship ended traumatically. I was able to wrestle through that time and sought healing in many places and fashions, including through songwriting and art.”