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Last Friday, Alex Rave and The Sceptical released their anticipated debut EP ‘Profound Absurdities’. In a tale of collaborative forces, the ‘Sceptical’ side of the band dip into the darker realms of psychedelia to partner with lyricist and singer, Alex Rave who uses them as a platform for his laments; as he tangents off on his brand of observational wordplay to paint a hyperreal, be it somewhat warped, picture of “life as he understands it, but more significantly, life as he doesn’t.” (Quoted from their Spotify Bio)
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In homage to the finance-savvy DIY elements of production, they self-recorded the EP over 5 days at guitarist Connor’s home-studio in Huddersfield, before sending it off for mixing & mastering by Ben Brooker, with whom they formed a fruitful partnership of shared investment in the tracks. “We gave him an idea of how we wanted it to sound, but the way he seemed to capture everything that we’d envisaged was almost freaky – we couldn’t imagine the EP sounding different to the way it does.” reflected Rave.

REASONS


“Are you real or is this just a dream?” Enquires Rave amidst spacious guitar dives, crashing piano chords and a loping rhythm section. In essence, it’s a love song, but not in a love song kinda way. It’s a refreshing, heartfelt opening to the EP in which all cards are put on the table straight away. This shows that there is no fear in the face of bearing it all to an audience, who are mostly unacquainted with the band still so early on in their career. It’s a daunting, yet necessary risk for any artist.   

SO IT GOES (SO I’M TOLD)


The second track picks up the pace a little but still maintains a groove, which is mainly down to the considered yet energetic drumwork, reminiscent of Fugazi’s ‘Waiting Room’. Ethereal guitar effects offer something of a padded mattress for the deeply intuitive, directed aggression that the rest of the song revolves around. Cobain-esque snarls in the verses set up the chorus which briefly reverts back to the spaced out feel of ‘Reasons’, before going double time into the tracks pinnacle.


ITCH


‘Itch’ was released as a single before the EP came out, and so is probably the one that listeners are most accustomed to. Rave makes use of a spoken word style of delivery for this track, which always gives more testament to lyricism as opposed to melody. A favourite lyric in question is, “I Itch the skin and start to sink into a world of stress and panic, fuelled by bigwigs who wouldn’t blink twice when they were assessing the damage” which Rave wrote after being made redundant by his place of work. Lyricism aside, there is still plenty of melody in the chorus, as a towering vocal hook is complimented by shimmering guitar work and bass scales that are ever solid throughout the whole EP. 


NO WONDER


“We wanted to create a mood that could tie all of the songs together without just following the same pattern for each and producing a sequence of tracks that appear merely as simple imitations of each other.” Rave explained about the EP, and whilst the beginning of ‘No Wonder’ felt very similar to other aspects of the prior tracks, the climatic outro of the song is in a realm of its own in regards to the rest of the band’s output. What is arguably the best bit of vocal work on the EP from Rave spurs the listener on to “reach for the sun” as both his voice and the band become intertwined to produce something close to musical epiphany.

CHER AMI/CODA

 


The concluding track takes a very sombre turn, and this allows Rave’s tongue in cheek, early Alex Turner brand of wordplay to shine through. In saying this, it’s by no means regurgitation of past popularity, as the haunting atmosphere that lies within the piano work mystifies the listener in a way that the average indie outfit would struggle to translate. The track comes to a sudden end, leaving you half expecting something more from it. Is this their way of saying “to be continued”? Either way, they’ve definitely left their mark with this debut offering.


 

Dark psychedelia mixed with poetry is a style pioneered by Jim Morrison and The Doors which has taken many forms over history; and Profound Absurdities is a heavily modernised, ambitious take on it by a band that only just appears to be at the foot of their evolution. Rave walks a stylistic tightrope by discussing the starkness of reality in a salt of the earth way before flipping the coin, obliterating said reality and escaping into a world of the bizarre. The band yo-yo in between these two concepts with expertise that suggests wisdom and musicality beyond their years. The EP is a culmination of life so far, gift-wrapped into a rollercoaster of pure emotion, intrigue, and yes – profound absurdity.
Cover art – Ellie foster Pic – Carolina Sepulveda
 MATT DAGGER

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