Hollow was the first track to emerge from South London duo Sylas – eventually to become part of their debut EP, Shore. Scheduled for release on 24th November, the EP has been signed to the up-and-coming Brixton label, Aesop – offering three exciting tracks that boast a quality found in both its great songwriting and its slick production.
Releasing Hollow into the spotlight first was clearly a smart move from the pair; it did well to highlight their sound: ambitious and meticulous in design, where sonic layers seamlessly merge to create one beautifully crafted sound-world. It’s a sound that is both hazily euphoric and brooding at the same time, and one that becomes commonplace throughout the EP.
Title track Shore blissfully kicks off the EP. Sonically, it’s well-crafted and polished: pulsating electronic drum patterns are cemented below pitched vocals, before a well-placed vocal verse is laid bare – slowly building before the ensemble vanishes from view; tight drum hits then come to the fore, making their presence felt. But just as quickly as the song builds, everything suddenly falls through into an eerie silence, marking its conclusion.
This all creates a cycle of tension and release, bringing to mind the cohesive production techniques of Jon Hopkins or Daniel Avery. The result is a track that’s relaxing and emotionally stirring in equal measures.
The familiar sounds of Hollow come next on the EP. An emotionally rich vocal delivery is cut up by verses of low, ominous R&B-spoken word styled vocal lines that trundle forward in solitary monologue. Again, there’s a sense of tension and release, where textures are suddenly blown apart by silence – or near silence. By this point, stylistically, one cannot ignore the unmistakeable James Blake influence here, though Sylas’s warmingly blissful sound comes into full swing, and the results are no less than captivating.
It’s then left to Layer to finish off the EP; it’s an epic conclusion, with dark and aggressive overtones. It features Jelani Blackman and, due to a chance meeting, Brian Eno. For a debut EP from two newcomers, seeing Eno’s name attached is quite the accolade indeed, and it’s safe to say that Sylas have lived up to the hype.