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".
Whilst we haven't even seen 1/12 of what 2014 has to offer when I write this, I would be very surprised if this does not make my top 10 in the year end list. Heck, if it didn't then we would have had one of the best musical years in living memory!
There are all kinds of influences at play here. Structurally the album reminds me of Bowie and Eno's late 70's work with it's mix of ambient and poppier tracks, but I can also hear flavours of Kraftwerk in there. This certainly isn't a 70's album though; it feels very much like an album that could only exist in the last few years.
I don't usually do a track by track, but this warrants it.
'Glitter Recession' is a slow building opener which reaches an exciting, bubbling electronic climax.
'Total Strife Forever I' feels like a Kraftwerk melody played on modern instruments and washed with glittery waves of sound.
'Dripping Down' is the first 'song' on the record and uses complex clattering beats and sampled vocals to create a fantastic sense of momentum.
'Hinterland' is a cold sonic landscape electrified with what can only be described as an assault of acid house style percussion. This is a moment of ruthless energy.
'Heaven, How Long' begins with a warm, exuberant wall of synths which slowly builds under Doyle's emotive vocals until it explodes in an exhilarating climax. It is a rare thing that a song can
'Total Strife Forever II' sounds like it came straight off Eno's 'Another Green World', in the best way possible. It is a short, simple synth melody which somehow conjures a wave of emotion much greater than the sum of its parts.
'Looking For Someone' is perhaps the most conventional track here and holds some of the record's only singalong moments, but even this morphs and evolves throughout. The vocal introduction is just wonderful.
'Midnight Koto' recalls Bowie's 'Moss Garden'; it is one of the simpler tracks on here which makes it a beautiful rest after the more breathtaking material which comes before it. The track builds a breezy ambient soundscape over which a succession of high pitch notes plays.
'Total Strife Forever III' is perhaps the 'biggest' ambient soundscape here because it is intricately layered. It almost recalls some of the later tracks on 'Autobahn', but with modern electronic flourish.
'Song for a Grandular Piano' is the final vocal track, and Doyle uses his voice as another layer of sound throughout much of it. The track is brooding and has a decidedly gothic feel.
'Total Strife Forever IV' is a fascinating beast; it sounds like Doyle is 'playing' white noise at the start. It uses the same melody from 'Total Strife Forever II' but takes a more layered approach and feels like a fitting end to such an exhilarating album.
At first only the most accessible tracks grabbed me, but I have slowly fallen in love with the whole record.
Overall this is a fascinating record for anybody with an active listening ear; it strays a long way from convention and certainly won't be played at a family party but it is an incredible landscape to explore late into the night. It is definitely a challenging record, but one which rewards patience splendidly. A full spectrum of emotions is present, including some truly breathtaking moments which are rare in any type of music.
I'm very excited to be seeing Doyle play live soon, if he is as good as he is on record then it will be a rare treat.
So, in summary: if you like interesting music, this should definitely be experienced.
This is a fantastic album. It covers a whole load of musical styles, but somehow manages to hold together as a coherent piece of work.
He sings on some of the songs, his voice, pure and true, almost like a choirboy's. Dripping Down was the track that Uncut chose for its compilation. Oddly, it's the song I like least and, if it was the only one I'd heard, would not have bought the album. Luckily, I already had, having heard a different track in my local cd store. Looking for Someone is a simple, but beautiful tune. Heaven, How Long is magnificent, with its ambiguous lyrics and increasingly frenetic beat.
Most of the tracks, though, are instrumentals. Some, like Glitter Recession and the soaring Hinterland, are fast, pounding and melodic. Impossible to keep still to! Others are more reflective, electronica-based sounds that are less noodly than they might seem on first listening. Total Strife Forever parts I-IV are fascinating journeys into William Doyle's fertile imagination. This is weird, complex music. I don't know what his influences are, but I can hear Arvo Part and Ligeti as much as Booka Shade and Fuck Buttons.
I really recommend this album. And if you get a chance to see him live, do so. Doyle goes for it like few others, singing, accompanying himself on keyboards, bass guitar, sweat pouring from him as he tackles the songs head on. 'There is something clinical about me,' he sings at one point. And perhaps that's true. But what you get both from his exhilarating live set, and from this wonderful album, is the sense that you're listening to someone who is utterly passionate about his music.
To become successful you must experience failure and East India Youth may just prove that. William Doyle (the man that is East India Youth) has spent the time since Doyle and the Fourfathers ended to create this debut album. Out goes a traditional band in comes electronica as Doyle has embraced a different style. There are few vocal numbers here as most of the album is instrumental and is constructed around the four title tracks. However, when he does sing it's almost angelic. The moment towards the end of Dripping Down where he layers vocal upon vocal is so reminiscent of Our Prayer on the Beach Boys Smile it's scary. Heaven How Long is joyous when it reaches its culmination. The instrumentals are just as intriguing and wonderful. Hinterland is the stand out track for me as when it explodes like a spectrum loading screen it really becomes a thing of melody and beauty. Doyle's mix of electronics and vocals sound like an updated Beach Boys. However, it's also melodic, inspiring and quite wonderful. A debut that sounds like it is from an experienced artist, this is highly recommended and may well be in the running for a Mercury nomination later in the year.
An act actually deserving of hype, and one who has received it from all the right places and for all the right reasons; East India Youth's debut album Total Strife Forever is one that befits backing from the more reputable corners of the music industry. It’s also a record that continues the excellent work of William Doyle’s 2013 EP Hostel, while remaining innovative and progressive.
Total Strife Forever is a challenging, unique work. Previous single releases “Dripping Down” and “Heaven How Long?” remain standouts, bolstered by transitional, instrumental passages wedged between the more conventional and ‘song-like’ fare. This beguiling combination of instrumental and vocal plays witness to a musician at the top of his game.
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This has been recomended to me so many times it's untrue,so i gave in & now have a copy.There is quite alot of ambient noise here but at the same time,it does have a certain beauty.There are some vocals & this is when the album really blossoms & has plenty of warmth,which recent electronic offerings tend to lack. This wont have you dancing round the living room,more sitting back relaxing & letting it wash over you.
Saw East India Youth for the first time at the Williams Green Stage Glastonbury 2014. It was an exceptional performance, so much so when i got home i purchased the album download. Total Strife Forever cost less than a fiver? I honestly feel like i've stolen it. . .it's that good!
Great album and not surprised it was nominated for a mercury music prize. It is difficult to describe as its quite a unique sound with a combination of electronic and guitar sounds and an eeriness in the background. A bright new talent