Monday, 20 January 2014

REVIEW: East India Youth - 'Total Strife Forever' (Stolen Recordings)

It's always sad when a great band breaks up, especially if they never achieved the success they deserved. British indie combo Doyle And The Fourfathers were a hugely promising group who split in 2012 after one wonderful, but unnoticed debut album. However, there was a major silver lining around the cloud as frontman William Doyle returned with a bold and unexpected new electronic solo project that has already gained him more acclaim than ever before. And when I first heard his work as East India Youth, I was hugely impressed at how natural Doyle sounded within his new musical surroundings, taking to a majorly new way of working like a duck to water. On the brilliantly inventive 'Total Strife Forever', he lets his imagination free and demonstrates his effortless flexibility as a musician.

With his previous work in mind, starting a debut solo album with the glitchy beauty and digital/analogue drones of 'Glitter Recession' is something that demonstrates a great deal of confidence. Bright electronic arpeggios emerge and chords change in unexpected places, as a rising glare of white light consumes the track. On 'Total Strife Forever I', analogue synth sounds are layered over each other and joined by perfectly positioned electronic noises that push and rise together in beautiful harmony. It sounds like the work of a genius who has worked in electronic music for many years rather than something made by a man who was the frontman of an indie pop group not so long ago.

One of only four tracks that use vocals, the dazzling 'Dripping Down' combines the gift for melody that he demonstrated in his former band with a wealth of wonderfully constructed machine sounds, while another major highlight arrives in the shape of the superb ambient-meets-acid techno workout of 'Hinterland' which is constructed masterfully; progressing, building and peaking at all the right moments. The vocals reappear again on 'Heaven How Long', a sublime piece of euphoric 21st century leftfield electro-pop that learns from the past and creates its own present, leading into a driving instrumental coda that rides freely until the song's close.


The mesmeric 'Total Strife Forever II''s hypnotic ambience pairs Eno-esque synths with angels voices, before the yearning melancholic glow of 'Looking For Someone' brings together Doyle's more traditional songwriting qualities and electronic beams of sound that crash through each other wonderfully. 'Midnight Koto' blows Haunting eastern tones drift across a foggy soundscape, and on the beautiful 'Total Strife Forever III' we get joyous noises that zip over the music, sounding not unlike buzzers from the old episodes of 'Catchphrase'. Elsewhere, the broken-up classical fragments of 'Song For A Grandular Piano' evoke an almost Radiohead-like moment, but is still unique enough to cast a different sort of atmosphere. The closing 'Total Strife Forever IV' gradually builds from heavy static noise into the cries of buzzing keys that open up the gateways of heaven halfway through, ending the album blissfully.

Sounding like a man determined to make his work as unclassifiable as possible, Doyle fuses genres and influences effortlessly to create something that sounds very much like 2014 should. Clever, enjoyable, uncompromising and highly recommended. 8.3/10



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