‘Offering up diversity, musical connections and wondrously warm sensations, it’s a beautiful listening experience.’
Re-Intro to As We Leave
First coming to the attention of Listen to Discover only a few months ago with thier release ‘Stories We Tell’, Isle of Wight quartet ‘As We Leave’ grace our pages once again. Completely capturing the nostalgia that tinges every nuance of their sound, it was a track that made us want to know the stories behind their tracks and had us yearning for more music. And now we get the opportunity to experience exactly that. Delivering their debut EP ‘Everything to a Point’, the five track release harnesses the beauty of what we loved about that introduction while offering up diversity, musical connections and wondrously warm sensations. [Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with Caine Entwistle of As We Leave]
Delicately making its way into our ears, opening track ‘Hope That Kills’ instantly generates the warmth that we will experience across the next 20 minutes of ‘Everything to a Point’. Strumming rhythmically, while setting up the harmonic progressions within the track, acoustic guitar lulls us gently while soft drums ensure there is an air of contained momentum. It’s honestly beautiful. And with the lyrical elements joining, this sense of balancing projection with delicacy works itself into Caine’s vocals as well. However, progressing through the track, each of the initial elements take on a sea of changes that enhance every part of what we are experiencing. And yes, this is very much a listening experience rather than a simple case of hearing.
Infused with late 60s style wining, the kind that feels incredibly reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, the contrasts occurring between electric and acoustic guitars are completely sublime. Equally, with the softest vocal harmonies appearing on selective phrases, there is a transcendence of calm. Taking this a stage further, with each return of the chorus making you feel like you are receiving a musical hug, there is a genuine sense of comfort too. However, while As We Leave can deliver these sensations in a phenomenally successful way, as the second track proves, they can deliver other sensations too.
Centred around a mix of tonally shifting synth patterns it would be fair to say that ‘Dreamland’ sees a purposeful, but just as musical side step occur. An opportunity to showcase a different atmosphere perhaps. However, this is a different side that after a few seconds feels as much As We Leave as what the opener gave us. Sure it may not have the freedom-filled drifting tendencies – not yet at least – but the musical connections are as sound as can be. The percussive softness of ‘Hope That Kills’ has shifted to be more dominant, bringing true direction. The clearly apparent, acoustic chordal transitions of the same track have been replaced by delicate, bass line emulating harmonic vocals. And the result is an understated statement of musical excellence.
Increasingly bringing the softness right into our ears, while those opening, more minimalistic motifs remain you can rest assured that they don’t rule the track. Blending wonderfully with everything else that is occurring, they are given a chance to shine, while the more warming textures are provided with the chance to do likewise. Working alongside the lyrical changes in both content and setting, purposefulness is kept for verses, aiding the progressive storytelling while the homely combination of chorus phrases and psychedelic influences bring familiarity. What shines most brightly though is how even with these alternations, the encouragement to float and ‘dream’ is very much there.
Building on the blend of influences experienced at the end of ‘Dreamland’, on reaching the mid point of the EP ‘Counterpoint’ encourages both curiosity and reflection. Initially delivered by the lyricism ‘my conscious won’t keep quiet, reaching for a counterpoint’ the opposing phrasal setting from expected to unpredictably delayed is an early sign of where things are heading. This is, when you first hear it an incredibly subtle change. But, what you don’t know at that stage is how much of a role the meanings within title itself will play. Hint, it’s more than we would imagine.
Shifting in atmosphere throughout, the textural undercurrent moves between true and inferred sparseness. Forming a continual wave of opposing, intrigue-filled melodies, the rhythmical separation within each is never fully heard. Contrastingly, when we need to ‘hear the silences’ within the verses we can. Both individually are truly delightful. However, with these connecting to the title how they do, this previously unheard track actually showcases their songwriting beautifully. Equally, in choosing to open the chorus with ‘black and white views’ and highlight those interlocking instrumental melodies in the final moments, both the theme of the track and the strength of it is pushed right home to the end.
Concluding the EP in a way that couldn’t be more appropriate, following the previously reviewed ‘Stories We Tell’ we arrive at the very first track As We Leave released, ‘Body Clock’. Undiscovered when it came out much earlier this year, it is a track that feels perfectly at home among the other four. Swirling around, synth bells provide a magical edge, ringing electric guitars fade to nothingness and simplistic drum rhythms hint at momentum. All feels rather familiar doesn’t it? Almost like they knew when writing the track how it would influence a much later release. And yet there is plenty to delight us.
Drawing us in, every nuance of production around the instrumental elements has you hanging on to it. You wonder when the next change will occur and just how the delayed chord entries manage to feel completely in time, while not being exactly on the beat. It’s actually pretty stunning. However, the way in which the vocal content works with it almost outdoes the level of beauty. Requiring no effort on our part, the healing vocals wash our worries away while the lyrical content itself – with phrases such as ‘got a few hours rest’ and ‘sleep is hard to find’ – brings a gentle smile to your face. With what was their debut track being so polished and accomplished, we really should have known that ‘Everything to a Point’ would be so phenomenal.
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Listen to As We Leave on: Spotify
Find out more about As We Leave at: Behind the Music: Interview with Caine Entwistle of As We Leave and Track Review: As We Leave: Stories We Tell