Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Record label: Tri Angle
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The opening few, seraphic notes of Waterfall are misleading. After a few seconds all peace is dispelled by floor-quaking subs and snares that crack like smashed glass. It is a message of intent. And a pattern which is continued throughout this challenging and often infuriating EP. Instead of ….
Joshua Leary is electronica’s very own Cinderella story: the primary teacher from sleepy Cheshire town Ellesmere Port who, after putting three anonymous tracks online in 2011, was plucked from relative obscurity by Kanye West for a grinding collaboration (‘I’m In It’) on last year’s ‘Yeezus’ blockbuster. Now signed to West’s DONDA creative agency, new EP ‘Waterfall’ sees the shadowy 24-year-old advance the weird, industrial sonics that caught everyone’s attention in the first place into even bolder territory. From the twisted techno of ‘Salt Carousel’ to the vicious trip of ‘Fuck Idol’, these four tracks serve as a reminder to forget his tantalising new partnership with hip-hop’s biggest provocateur: Leary can kidnap your attention just as easily alone.
Meet Joshua Leary, better known as Evian Christ. The 24-year old London-based ambient trance, hip-hop and dubstep producer who recently parodied Burial’s selfie and thank you message; appeared on Kanye West’s Yeezus; and whose confident and hard-edged Waterfall EP will have you wishing you followed your instinct and went and see him play all those random gigs at Corsica Studios last year, because it’s about to get a hell of a lot harder. In just four tracks, Waterfall moves away from any earlier, ambient leanings in favour of a harder-edged, industrial sword.
In late 2011, a handful of instrumental tracks under the account name Evian Christ showed up on YouTube. A random, anonymous person putting music online is something that happens thousands of times a day, but Evian Christ’s productions got around, quickly, on the strength of “Who is this?” raves from publications like Dummy and a number of blogs. Returning to them more than two years later, these early tracks, especially the startling and forceful “Fuck It None of Y’all Don’t Rap”, hinted at serious potential, even if they didn’t quite congeal into a distinctive voice.
There is his name, of course, doubled with both the physical sense of water (Evian, the name of the French mineral water, bottled near Lake Geneva, its source) and the metaphysical, Christlike sense that making music, or being a music-maker, can give you. And then there is the mystery in his music, something that makes it not only angelic, but also urban and dangerous; I dub it “Metal Gear Solid music,” because if you listen closely to the timbre of the beats, it’s hard to distinguish them from those of gunshots, one of the main features of the Metal Gear games. Years ago, after I listened to Kings and Them on a Brooklyn balcony for the first time, I went home remembering the name and knew from that moment on that I would listen to everything Evian Christ (real name: Joshua Leary) would record, which would later include his ambient Duga-3 mix, my favorite music he’s released, and now his new EP, Waterfall.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Yeezus is a seminal listen. Acclaim or criticism or indifference - how people react to that album is telling of trend and its hoard of dichotomies. It's now an honouree part of contemporary cultures great central pivot, via which opinions develop and contextualise.
After formulating a unique sound, it takes a certain kind of self-belief to then immediately ditch said creation for release #2. That his talent allows such luxuries bodes well for Evian Christ. Most artists can go entire careers without ever conjuring a sound of their own, but with Waterfall’s template of trap, trance, and distortion, the sound of Kings And Them has indeed been kicked to the kerb.