Tuesday 29 October 2013


Sparks of brilliance sometimes just come from nowhere without any forewarning. Such is the case with London-based Samuel, an enigmatic no-surnamed Irish-born singer & songmaker. Recently he has worked with Gervase Gordon, aka Okzharp - 1/3 of London trio LV - to produce this brand new Falling Star EP.

It's a collection of sounds that have really put a spin on the world of R&B, falling much more into a kind of swirling post-R&B protoplasma, a place where all the form and style of "urban" music is taken from the streets and blasted into far-flung galaxies where physicality is something dreamt-up. Much of this is owing to the noises that in all their careful minimalism make for an enormous atmosphere of a futuristic space-age of music. There are distorted delayed synths in the menacing subby sea of 'Death Star Wonder', sounds of lasers rippling by like a neon-tinged dogfight in space - which is kinda perfect as the song is an intergalactic vision of dancehall-flavoured music, a club night orbiting Earth where there is no day, only the eternally danceable night.

Likewise, in 'Boom Boom Boom', the ultra-clean snapping beat of "present-day" R&B becomes an otherwordly, liquidly-distorted bounce, the romantic pizzicato strings become ultra-computerised beeps. Hip hop faces the future in the short-n-sweet title track 'Falling Star', its shuffling rhythm combining sharp synth chords with fidgeting lead bleeps that become more and more paranoiac towards the end of the song. Here also, Samuel's vocals themselves go through a change with a Jamaican lilt that he clearly seems to enjoy singing with, feeling each note with a longing ache.

One of the crucial elements of all good R&B is of course the voice and it's no different here. Samuel's soulful vocals change to suit each track; they're clean and almost sing-along in 'Death Star Wonder', holding up against the harsh sounds of the song; then there's his tongue-in-cheek parody of contemporary R&B with some of the lines in 'Boom Boom Boom' - "Errbody say hey, hey", mentioning "East Coast" and "West Coast", and declaiming "I'm not a fighter. I'm a lover, baby" halfway through. But in 'Steam Train' his vocals are softer, wrapped in a thin mist of hush that totally suits the slow chill of the song - it's a perfect start to the EP, one that instantly introduces the glistening melodies of imagined planets before going into a gloriously minimalistic verse: each sound is left to resound by itself, Samuel's voice given space to reverb heavenly over everything else.

I wrote about this EP for Dummy magazine at the end of last week. It's difficult to sum it up using different words than I used in that article, so I think what I'll do is just copy and paste them here. Yeah, it's lazy, I know, but, well, maybe there's just no other way to say what I think, ever consider that? "These are isolated idylls of romance; all of it holds reminders of traditional modern pop music, yet its far-flung progressive sound makes it something much more exciting." Pretty much. Where will we find Samuel's voice next? Singing in a pod slowly making its way across the universe... Perhaps not, but if ever there was a sound to remember when the sound of R&B music begins turning its head towards the endless chasm of the future, it's this Falling Star EP.

PS. This is released on Ninjatune affiliate, Technicolour.

PPS. Check out my interview with Samuel!

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