Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Album Review: Submerse - Tears

Album Rating: B
Hailing from the rolling plains of Cheshire, UK, and now finding himself isolated in the claustrophobic metropolis of Tokyo, it’s a surprise that it’s taken this long for culture shock to play an active part in Submerse’s music. Tears is thus introduced as the reaction to the loneliness and confusion of the move, and from there to any small reminder of home. The opening track, “Cream Soda,” we’re told, was entirely inspired by the sight of a familiar can of soft drink; the overarching idea being that with little to relate to it’s the smallest things that can trigger the greatest emotion. As such, Tears is a remarkably mellow and contemplative release: one about small, internal triumphs and occurrences as opposed to any grand theme. Relatable, then, if not inspiring.

As his debut release on the German electronic label “Project: Mooncircle,” Tears strikes a much more organic vibe than Submerse’s recent releases on “Apollo.” Along with the mainstays of bass, clicks and electronic sweeps, the background plays host to a myriad rumbles and chimes along with an overlay of thick, heavy synths. It ends up much like a swirling haze permeated with rapid, sharp cracks of percussion, and you wonder whether some of the tracks might feel a little lost without the more solid vocal samples. Not content with falling into the now stereotypical mix of urbanised dubstep/ beat music with sad female vocals, Submerse introduces spots of more atmospheric and experimental offerings in the EP. “Meaningless Moments in Capsules” flows around jumping, scratched bass: relying heavily on chimes alone for its substance. It’s an unusual style that, while not perfect, does it’s job as a clash of almost opposing motifs as the quite insistent bass attempts to overcome the more calming chimes; so perhaps more interesting than effective. Likewise, the horn-led introduction to the EP shows that Submerse isn’t afraid of stepping outside of his comfort zone, although that is to be expected of an artist who dabbles in everything from dubstep to j-pop; often at the same time.

It’s when he allows himself to slip into what he’s comfortable with, however, that Tears really shines. He’s had sorrowful, calming beat music down to a T since 2010’s “Streams,” and it’s no different here. Both the title track and “It’s Over, I Lost” demonstrate this perfectly, and the title track especially displays a very mature and skillful composition: easily manipulating the listener’s expectations in the space between vocals. “It’s Over, I’m Lost” is slightly more reserved than “Tears,” with the vocals layered over dubstep instead of all-out waves of strings, but it still strikes that perfect note of urban, electronic sadness. Placed next to the more energetic “Cream Soda” and “Kerosene,” these tracks only seem more powerful; the main benefit of Submerse’s insistence on variety.

As his second release of the year, it’s remarkable that Submerse can produce music of this quality on the schedule he keeps. Tears may not be the most consistent release this year - or indeed in Submerse’s rapidly increasing catalogue - but it exhibits an encouraging trend of exploration along with plenty of great tracks to keep us satiated in the no doubt short while before his next release.


1. Cream Soda
2. It's Over, I Lost
3. Kerosene
4. MeaninglessMoments In Capsules 
5. Pressure
6. Tears
7. Bonus Digital - Stars 

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