Euphorials – Double EP: Konstance / Disposable Values
(F-IRE Label, F-IRECD103. Review by AJ Dehany)
The debut double EP by duo Euphorials brings an appealing soulful contemporary musical style and production to an abiding contemporary theme: how we are affected and disaffected by the world in which we live. Producer, poet, pianist, Monk enthusiast, reeds player and good oak, Zac Gvi, has teamed up with fellow F-IRE Collective alumnus Wesley Gibbens, who is most familiar as the drummer in the Darius Brubeck Quartet.
The tastefully constructed arrangements blend acoustic and electronic beats, interweaving saxophones and synths into pleasing textures that are rich but uncluttered. It’s sexy music for sure, with an understated sophistication combining both smoothness and sonic detail, appealing as both soulful electronica and nu-jazz. The track Now is a Moment that will Never Come Again expands the format and theme with vocals from MC Ewok, a Durban-based rapper. This South African heritage is shared by Gibbens, and the music creates a strong London Britjazz sound suffused with influences from the rainbow nation.
Euphorials has a convincing sonic signature that appeals to a jazz sensibility while sounding contemporary. It’s music created ‘in the box’ like Sam Gendel’s Satin Doll album, another example of millennial music with minimal personnel and a detailed production. Even the new Melt Yourself Down album was largely created in a convoluted way by Kush and Pete with producer Youth. Thanks to technology, unless there’s a specific room sound or feel you’re after you don’t necessarily need a traditional studio setup to achieve your sound.
As with Satin Doll, Euphorials seems to be able to inhabit and synthesise (literally) its influences into a coherent identity, which comments ironically on the themes and concerns that the music raises: how our identity is constructed and performed. The track Context Collapse manipulates an academic sample explaining its eponymous concept, that is, what happens when one is involved in several social groups all occupying the same space. Facebook is the key contemporary case study; the platform can create a vertiginous cognitive dissonance as you crash between the different ways one behaves when talking variously to colleagues, parents, lovers or strangers.
The title of the lead single track (what you knew is now no more) what you know points to this confusion between who we are, who we were, and who we are trying to be. Music that mixes up genres becomes vertiginous as it approaches the potential for context collapse. It makes for thrilling and multifarious art. Psychologically, context collapse might be less of a problem than it seemed when it was coined as far back as 2002-3 (attributed to Microsoft researcher Dana Boyd). Today we are more aware of ‘code-switching’: each of us has our ‘interview voice’ and our ‘home voice’ (subdividing further into how you talk among friends versus the family WhatsApp). The double EP Konstance/Disposable Values raises the possibility that our identities don’t need to be monolithic; that each of us can carve out our own niche.
AJ Dehany is based in London, locked down in Teesside, and writes independently about music, art and stuff.