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East India Youth - Great debut album alert
on 13 January 2014
Time to issue a great debut album alert. William Doyle aka East India Youth paints with a musical palette drawn from a the widest possible range of sonic colours. His record "Total Strife Forever" (a play on words on the Foals 2010 LP) sees the London-based experimental producer, songwriter and singer, encompassing electronica, techno, shoegaze and dream pop. He does this with such panache that at time this album is breath-taking in both its scope and beauty. In terms of influences for Doyle you could pool any names from Kraftwerk, 808 State to Steve Reich and Phillip Glass.
This is an audacious outing with only four songs including vocals (although they are some of the best) and four variants on the instrumental title track. On first listens it is the German influenced "Heaven How Long" which immediately grabs you. It builds up from bubbling synthesisers to a huge house anthem where Doyle's quiet vocals and repeated line "I cannot give less than my heart" finally burst into a pulverising laptop/keyboard wig out at around 4.20 producing one of the great techno anthems this side of Chicago. Another song "Hinterland" pounds along with such energy it could power the national grid and demands the best musical equipment to pull out all its techno background wizardry. Then there is the hypnotic arpeggiated synths of opener 'Glitter Recession" jammed packed with captivating melody and force. The quieter moments in the album come in the quartet of title tracks which are all ambient walls of sound owing as much to the modern classical composers mentioned above as newer dance forms. They pay repeated listens not least Total Strife III which is a thing of wonder and sounds like Doyle has somehow smuggled in an orchestra. Other mentions in dispatches should go to the atmospheric minimalistic vocal track "Dripping Down" and the pop anthem "Looking for Someone" easily the most straightforward track on the album.
Total Strife Forever is one of those rare beasts a debut album that arrives fully formed and leaving you scratching your head quite how Doyle has pulled this off. The Guardian has described Doyle as a James Blake character "you don't want to grab by the scruff of the neck and pack off to national service". This is a bit harsh but Doyle has avoided some of the overt and often clawing sensitivity of Blake's work and produced a monster record which leads you to utter one word. "Encore".