Sole Vale has had quite the 2018 so far. He began with firm LV favourite Moonwake — with track In The Deep featured on Dom Kane’s For Lack of A Better Radio mix — and soon after dropped his debut EP Oblivion on EMERCIVE. Now, he has unleashed the deft Phase One onto an unsuspecting public. Retaining trademark Sole Vale traits (creative drums, thick atmospherics and nagging leads) this EP sees him push his craft further to create something more varied, yet possessing a more consistent and personal theme than his previous releases.
We begin with Anguish: a cavernous void slowly filled with intricate percussion and icy plucks, until the bottom falls out into a frantic build that finally drops us into a dark, slithering groove, with plenty of space to contemplate the emotions behind the music. The second breakdown comes, more hectic still, before we’re thrown into another crevice of skittering rhythms and discordant synth shots that hauls itself towards a shuddering finish.
Anguish still fresh in our minds, Move On snaps things into focus with a melancholy arpeggio, tinged with hope. Drums propel us onwards, as a gentle melody snakes in and out of the layers of warm synths, guiding us to a thought-provoking, spoken-word breakdown that exposes the heart of the EP. After a moment for quiet contemplation, the insistent drums return, compelling us to do as we were told and move on — back to reality, a little more at ease than before.
After the cautious optimism of Move On, Grieved tugs us toward darker moods, as a tweaked-out arpeggio flutters over a pulsating sub like we’re listening from outside the club. Once the drums kick in, a vast space opens up in the stereo field, ready for layers of discordant synths to pile in on each other, weighed down by crisp percussion. As the taut sonics ebb and flow, a droning snare builds, while resonant arpeggios fight for dominance over the rhythm section. Eventually everything collapses in on itself, leaving us alone to fend off a gritty, ascending bass and the siren synths it brought along for company. The latter part of the track is a case study in building and releasing tension, and there’s no rest as Sole Vale folds in new elements, without ever crowding the mix. In the final leg, that relentless snare roll returns to harry us across the finish line, where we can finally catch our breath.
Phase One is a fantastic follow-up to Moonwake and Oblivion taking the hard, shuddering form of those EPs and mining it for a seam of emotional depth that makes for an engrossing listen. We highly recommend you give this the multiple playthroughs it deserves…
As always, we were keen to learn more about the story behind the work, so we caught up with Sole Vale to see if he could dispel some of the mystery shrouding the EP.
SierraOskar: Firstly, congratulations on a beautiful EP and thanks for taking the time to speak to me about it. How has your summer been?
Sole Vale: Summer has been pretty good so far although I have been working a lot. As we speak, I am actually on vacation. Finally, some time to sit back and relax with my family!
SO: I felt this EP had a lot of emotional weight. Can you say anything about what inspired its creation, or do you prefer to leave it unsaid?
SV: Phase One is the first of a series of EP’s which will be covering different phases in life in no particular order. Phase One focuses on dealing with death, the anguish, moving on and grieving. Every human goes through it at some point and how you deal with it absolutely helps you understand who you are. I feel as though I deal with loss quite well, so I hope this EP can bring some sort of strength, power and hope for all those who are going through it.
SO: I love Moonwake and Oblivion for their claustrophobic atmosphere, but I can say that Phase One feels more varied as the tracks flow into each other. How did you approach creating this differently to your previous work and what was your goal with it overall?
SV: Phase One is definitely more varied, I wanted to display my own depiction on the song titles. Anguish being deep, dark, surreal, driving and relentless. Move On being optimistic yet unsettling. Grieved being dark and angry. Really hope the song titles do the audio justice! My previous EP’s have been more just picking some ID’s I have and making an EP out of them… There was definitely more thought that went into Phase One, being that it is more personal [and] I wanted it to reflect that.
SO: The breakdown of Move On feels like the lynchpin of the album, with its spoken word verse undoubtedly inspiring the track title. Where did you come across that quote and what role did it play in the EP coming together?
SV: Move on was the first track written on this EP and the vocal kind of happened by chance. I had written down tons of different sayings and kind of dreary sentences to give the track an eery feeling [while keeping] some sort of optimism. Nothing sounded right, so I closed my notebook and improvised [and] I got the first few lines on the first try. Then I added, “You have to learn to accept that and Move On”. It just worked for me and gave off the exact vibe I was looking for. I placed Move On as the second track with the vocal right in the centre of the EP. Definitely gives the EP a true meaning with at least a small explanation of Phases.
SO: You chose to release Oblivion on EMERCIVE, but this EP comes to us from your own Sole Vale Recordings. What motivated the different approach for this EP?
SV: This EP has been an idea of mine for a while, and as it is more personal I felt it would sit better as a self-release. I did not want any strings tied to it at all. I am still working with EMERCIVE on other projects, and I had told the team about this release early on. Love everyone involved with EMERCIVE and I’m excited to add more of my own work to their catalogue!
SO: I guess you’ll be taking a short break after releasing this EP but what’s next for you in the latter half of 2018? Is there a Phase Two (or more!) planned?
SV: Yes absolutely, as stated earlier, I am currently on vacation which has been wonderful! There will be a few more releases this year, I don’t think a new EP is on the horizon as of yet but who knows. My schedule has been a bit crazy, so studio time has been very limited. There will be a Phase Two, I have no idea when it will actually be released though.
SO: Thanks again for your time. Any last words?
SV: Thank you for a having me! We will be in touch!
And so, Phase One comes to a close. As with all of Sole Vale’s work we are excited about what’s next - it’s always satisfying to watch an artist pursue their specific vision in whatever direction that takes them. We will bring you more as we have it, so keep an eye on our Sole Vale artist page for his social links, related articles and tracks.