By endurance we conquer. Released Aug 2016
Anthony has never been afraid of taking risks with his music, so it’s little wonder then that the title of his second EP is a quote taken from Ernest Shackleton, one of the twentieth century explorers, who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic and died a hero’s death in South Georgia. By Endurance We Conquer is a bold imagining of how far electronic music can go when the maestro pulling the strings (or pressing the buttons) is an educated musician with eclectic taste and a penchant for emphatic hooks that lodge themselves like icepicks into the listener’s consciousness, with no intention of ever letting go.
Kicking off with Apollo, the opener is named after the eponymous Greek god of music; no golden lyres appear on this pounding industrial track, yet there is a brass trumpet that features in the coda, courtesy of Channer’s younger brother who used the acoustics of his own bathroom to achieve the peculiar, hypnotic sound that plays out the song. Layering progressive synth riffs over splash-heavy cymbals, this is a fitting inauguration into the sonic adventure that lies ahead.
The mood is set decidedly to ‘dystopian’ with the following The Destruction Of Planet Earth; the synthesisers are back with a vengeance as they make vicious stabs over the rat-at-at-at of electronic percussion while an urgent bassline keeps the beat burgeoning ever forward. The videoclip that accompanies this song is a mashup of old cine footage, baton-twirling beauties high-kick next to frogmarching SS troops before a Hiroshima mushroom cloud engulfs the screen; with the doomsaying message of the title, this anthem for disaffected youth is a call to arms for anyone who wants to save the earth from itself.
Power To You picks up the pace with a confident slap-strut along a bass fretboard, a robotic voice adding harmonies as various instruments scatter simple, euphonious riffs over the top like melodic confetti. It’s a galactic jam that will have the listener tapping their digits and shuffling their feet by the second chorus.
The lead guitar that opens Invasion hums a deceptively simple refrain that’s soon joined by crunching drum beats before evolving into a swirling minor refrain. The wah wah-led middle-eight is underscored by a pounding bassline, leading the triumphant repeat of the intro with vocal choir harmonies rounding out the sound for a final flourish.
Regardez le Clown’s inspiration was taken from a painting of a crying clown and it dutifully encompasses the breadth between tragedy and comedy in its both brief and comprehensive four minutes. The French voice in the breakdown poignantly sermonises in dulcet, faraway tones while a freeform xylophone solo adds light relief. The consistent crash of drums interspersed by a sporadic machine gun snare offers a chaotic backdrop that occasionally drifts into sinister undertones thanks to the minor shades cast by the rhythm instruments. Building to a quick climax, it brings us to the brink and then explodes into an abrupt silence.
Channer takes things down a notch or two with the chillcore closer Exist Alone, a squeal of electric guitar melding with the syncopated crunch of programmed beats. An Air-esque melody by way of The Flaming Lips repeats itself over and over, with bass notes punctuating the lower octaves to create a brooding intensity. A delay pedal is used to excellent effect and the arpeggiated melodies emanating from an acoustic guitar are pretty enough to balance out the aggressive blips and blaps that sound as if a space invader has taken over percussion on an electronic drumset. Ethereal yet intimate, this is a song to watch the stars go by.
Fear, lust, ecstasy and agony are all fighting for the forefront throughout this ambitious and diverse EP. Boyshadow has the talent and drive to push his music beyond the boundaries of where many of Channer’s peers feel comfortable and with By Endurance We Conquer, he’s sure to expand his team of loyal fans who’ll be packed and ready to climb aboard for his next mission, wherever it may take them.
Boyshadow. Released Nov 2015
A bass slide introduces Judgement Day before a heavy riff on a synth that’s clearly set to ‘melodic psychosis’, which cuts out as a male voice with a regional Scottish accent begins a Doomsday-esque chatter, “It all began when I was a wee boy…” continuing the concept of fledgling innocence and the unchangeable temporal passage. As the drums crash over a subtle, finger-picked guitar, the protagonist continues, “All we could do was to accept that the sands of time were continuing to drizzle through the hole that was life,” positing the song somewhere between Mogwai and the infamous monologue from Trainspotting. This transcends into a choral coda as paranoid electro-chanting plays out what is a truly encapsulating piece of music.
The second song, Pinky, begins by plumbing the depths of a piano’s bass notes, as an ominous jazz-cum-blues riff is repeated over and over, drums shuffling away in the background until electronica again takes hold, thrusting riffs over the other instruments before a virtuoso piano solo is thrown in for good measure.
A child of the system begins with a stab of synth as a warm bassline noodles away in the background, layering distorted vocal samples looped on top of the instrumentation below. The drum beat changes to a quick tattoo as the tempo takes hold, cutting out for a vocal-only part before crashing back in for the final segment over which an anthemic string section whirls the song towards a gentle closure.
A New End sees a bright and contagious string-plucked melody that builds to a drum-heavy crescendo before all of the other instruments cut out again, leaving the guitar to pick its way into a bluesy guitar solo that at one point syncopates beautifully with a female vocal effect. The original melody is then chimed on a xylophone to a lush fade out.
The final song, The Electric Storm begins with a gentle, lounge-like feel, keys tapping a plaintive melody over which soulful female vocals coax a faded harmony. This is a laid-back, groovy affair in the style of Air, until the middle-eight changes the time signature into a frenetic psychedelic synth-jazz meltdown, the slick production never letting smooth tone of the song run away with itself.
Far from the jejune ramblings of a precocious youngster, this is a carefully measured and well-crafted EP that will sit happily among your favourite electronica albums and offers something new with each repeat listen. Is it time to grow up? Boyshadow already has.
Written by David Harfield