Album Review

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

by James Kohler


Independant
8.5 / 10
24th December 2015

Reviewed by Louisa Kasza


James Kohler’s debut EP, Somewhere Else, makes for an eerie listening experience. The songs are undeniably original, yet seem full of subtle allusions that are difficult to parse. This, together with the care with which each track has obviously been crafted, creates a sense of déjà vu, as though the album were a modern classic you’d previously overlooked. The polished production represents a departure for the former bedroom musician (whose previous releases as Paste the Sky are grungier, lower-fi and very much worth a listen in their own right). This is a testament to both Kohler’s own growth and ambition and to the more collaborative approach taken in the EP’s creation.

From the surprisingly Goodshirt-y acid-bright pop of title track ‘Somewhere Else’ through the Stooges swagger of ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’ to the prog-steeped harmonies and Split-Enz-worthy, queasily tinkling keyboard of ‘I’m Fine’, Kohler seems to draw from a manifold of musical references in a way that tickles the brain cells in a disorienting yet pleasant manner. Transcendent standouts include ‘Strange Ecstasy’, a track that moves from low-key 90s guitar riffs into a sparkling freefall of strings on the chorus, and ‘Your Soul is a Cloud’, in which monumental and romantic imagery – steep ravines, black horses – is undercut by the deadpan sarcasm that runs throughout the EP in constant tension with the genuine emotion at its core."‘Your soul is a cloud," croons Kohler, "but I’m not likely to suffer that."

The description on Kohler’s bandcamp page describes the EP as "a testament to an ongoing love affair with songwriting". This statement shows its truth in the variety of genres played with throughout an EP that nevertheless sustains its integrity, thanks to Kohler’s lyrical dexterity and accomplished yet vulnerably raw vocal performance.







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