Thomas Azier: Hylas 002
Berlin-based electro-pop artist, Thomas Azier is in the midst of releasing a trio of EPs. Last month saw the release of Hylas 001, a four song album that began to show Azier’s ability to straddle the line between traditional synth-pop and something more avant-garde.
Hylas 002 has a significantly different feel. The three track EP leans much more heavily towards the avant-garde pop edge. The album’s opener and lead single, “Fire Arrow” begins with a loud, prolonged distorted synth string hit. The sound of the hit is allowed to reverberate, setting an ominous tone. A few more string hits are given before other synths are added. The added synths range from shimmering arpeggios to more orchestral sounding strings. Azier adds some almost primal vocals before the drums come in. All synth work stops once the drums enter. Instead what is left sounds like a male version of Lykke Li‘s “Little Bit;” Azier’s vocals are multiplied to leave a “chorus of one” effect over a barren beat. The track crescendos to the chorus where the synth strings return and Azier’s voice soars.
Perhaps the most surprisingly thing about “Fire Arrow” is that it is not the best song on the album. For me, the album’s second track “Angelene” packs the biggest punch. Azier sounds like Chris Martin as he croons through the verses which again are set against a fairly barren drum track. The chorus is what really shines on “Angelene.” Azier gives us more of his primal howling but this time it is distorted and more melodic. The track crescendos with a third verse that is set in front of swirling synths that are reminiscent of Crystal Castles‘ “Courtship Dating” and then one final chorus.
The only let down of the EP is the final track, “Shade of Black.” The track does not keep the consistency set with the other tracks of the EP. It does not feature any vocals over a barren drum track or any primal vocals. Instead it is a simple ballad, just Azier and a piano. There are some sparse synth embellishments but nothing compared to the other tracks. It ends the EP on a real down note.
While one disappointing track does not kill an album, it does kill a three song EP like Hylas 002. Despite containing two of the best songs released yet in the Hylas series, Hylas 001 is the more consistent EP because every track featured the same tone.
MP3: Thomas Azier “Angelene”