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Radar Reviews: Wavewulf – ‘Luft’

Electronics and water may not go hand in hand as an ideal combination in the same way that Pie and Mash or Lemon Juice on Pancakes may pan out by reputation, but Wavewulf – the solo music project of New Jersey-based Prog Synth producer Nicholas Long – is willing to give it a go with his upcoming new album ‘The North And The Sea’ that released on March 25th. Promising to embody the natural energy of the Scandinavian and Arctic oceanic landscapes by whisking you away with strong, powerful compositions accentuated by intimate electronic keys and classic 90’s IDM influences, Long sets the tone for the rest of ‘The North And The Sea’ with new single ‘Luft’ – a creative lead single that is defined by freedom and dichotomy.

Long is releasing his next album off the back of his humble beginnings as a relentless touring musician by playing in multiple local bands in Arkansas. His previous long-player – ‘Space Art and Angels’ – received good reviews and global radio airplay, and Long has since treated himself to a collection of Korg and Moog synth-makers, as well as a plethora of analogue treasures that the man himself claims would make Daft Punk blush. Using them to craft ‘Luft’- Long has also enlisted the help of drum maestro Christopher John Donato and velvet vocalist Nala Spark to curate a rich electronic funk backdrop defined by cool winds and plunging, ice cold depths as his key environmental surroundings in texture. Long blends some Avant-Garde hints of Kraftwerk and horror soundtrack ideas of John Carpenter with more peace-oriented electronic keys and modern Pop music sensibilities to create a new track which feels largely accessible to a decent audience.

Sharing more about the core values that he explores on ‘The North And The Sea’, Long explains, “The album was inspired by a recent trip to Iceland. At a time when I was feeling claustrophobic and disconnected, I found a sense of freedom in the power of the sea. Being alone, being together, being connected, being disconnected“, about the congruent relationships of the seas that have shaped his latest sounds, in a press release, as the marketing machine kicks into gear.

Starting off with a classical-esque crescendo of buzzing Synth waves, Spark roughly sings, “I want to fly, high enough, through the sky like a ball of fire”, that sets a dark and immediate tone. The squelching, low-fidelity and acidic bass runs throughout the rest of the track, while the chorus has a more catchy, light-hearted vibe where qualities of Post-Disco come through more clearly. If you like artists like Royksopp, Roisin Murphy or Hard Feelings – the dance-driven concoction of Dark Ambient, Synth-Wave and Disco-Rock may grab your attention straight away.

The vocals demand your presence, with Spark singing, “I want to know, what does it feel like, to be a shooting star” and “I want to fly through the sky as a ball of fire/I want to know, what does it really feel like to implicate my desire” with a smoky, late-80’s Disco vibe in her voice. Overall, ‘Luft’ feels tense and urgent, with ethereal Synth work and Pop-level accessibility conjuring up a mystical and commanding mood. The lyrics feel a little bland and get a little tedious, but the beat is perfectly danceable and the influences of Kraftwerk are evident in the way that Long combines the improvisational qualities of his Synth-based production with the free-form elements of water.

Altogether, ‘Luft’ makes for an interesting listen that communicates the key themes of the album clearly, while feeling like a natural choice for a single due to the underyling Pop structure of the piece overall. Although the opening hooks are a little cliche’ and the songwriting is not quite Shakespeare in terms of depth, the instrumentation is filled with more intriguing ideas and the Synth-meets-Sea layer of the production is explored thoroughly. If you’re in a good mood, even if you’re not a fishing person, the oceanic textures of ‘Luft’ may just be the catch of the day for you.

Words by Jacob Braybrooke

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