William Doyle operating under the Moniker East India Youth has released his second album “Culture of Volume”. The sophomore release follows his critically acclaimed debut, “Total Strife Forever” which gained East India Youth a fair amount of attention when it was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2014. The debut was a collection of electronic experimentation and ambient music, heavy on instrumentals and less so on conventional songs. On this outing Doyle steps into a more cohesive and familiar manifestation with fewer instrumentals and more customary songs.
Doyle had been the lead singer of indie band Doyle and the Fourfathers, throughout their three year existence they were never able to make it out of the UK dive bar circuit and finally dissolved. In recalling that period Doyle stated that he learned a lot about performing in front of an audience from the experience. In pursuing a solo career Doyle set himself a goal,” I wanted to address the facelessness of electronic music and inject some personality where it was becoming increasingly anonymous.” He describes his music as full blooded electronica, or emotional electronica. As he states,” this is really personal music to me.” With “Culture of Volume” he continues to work in the genres of Experimental Electronica, Ambient and indie pop.
Doyle derived his alias East India Youth from the East India Docks of London’s East end where Doyle lives. He added the Youth when he reflected that he called his flat the youth hostel for all his friends who stayed over on a regular basis. In addition he felt this venture was his musical rebirth and the word Youth described his feelings perfectly. Doyle appreciates most genres but feels an affinity to electronica , dance, and ambient music with Tim Hecker, Brian Eno and Harold Budd as major personal influences.
“Culture of Volume” represents two years of work. The album was recorded in Doyle’s flat with his front room home studio and was produced by both Doyle and Graham Sutton; of British Sea Power and These New Puritans fame. Sutton also mixed the album. Violist Hannah Peel added her skills, and arranging the strings segments. The title of the album was taken from a partial quote from a poem by Rick Holland.
“Culture of Volume” switches emotional gears frequently. Something that would seem on the surface so erratic could doom a lesser record, but somehow it works. I was a skeptic at first but the recording has a great flow. The juxtaposing of ideas, themes, styles and emotions is all a high wire act with out a net, there is a significant chance for failure. However Doyle pulls it off, the unrelated content of one song seems to blend well with the next track, with if you will with a kind of synchronicity. The album starts off with the instrumental “The Juddering”; by definition a British word for mechanical rapid vibration with force, it is classic krautrock. It conveys the feeling of engines warming up before takeoff with its scintillating trance dance vibe. It has just enough ambient cool to make for a unique track. “End Result” has a dark pop sensibility with an underlying fatalistic theme of how life can change in a blink of an eye. “The end result was not what was in mind.” It is an inspired concoction of ambient, electronica, and pop.
“Beaming White” is a synth pop trance selection. The song has a kicking dance track with its jittery background and a soaring vocal with crystalline keyboards. Doyle uses his falsetto effectively, and harkens to the Pet Shop Boys and Erasure with its dance club ethos.
“Turn Away” is a song with full throated vocals and uses engaging multi layered accompaniment to make for a special amalgam. The verses build to a powerful climax in the chorus, “Crushed alive I think I’ve had enough”. “Hearts that Never” Is a thudding sojourn with a great robotic feeling vocal. The intro reminded me of Actress’s “RIP”, at its heart the song has a very industrial dance feel. Doyle’s vocal approach to this song reminds me of Gary Numan in his heyday.
I was completely blown away with the track “Entirety” I am not usually enthralled with instrumental electronica tracks, but this one is a “do not miss”. It drives you to get on your feet and dance like no one is watching.” It is a special track on the album and confirms that Doyle is a gifted dance electronica master. The song is almost cathartic as it leading into the more emotional pop “Carousel”. On paper it would seem strange to follow up such an electronica dance track with a radio friendly track. I can’t explain how it works it just does. “Carousel” is the first single off the album. A majestic track, Doyle compares life to the classic amusement park ride. In childhood we do not want the ride to ever slow, in adulthood we can’t slow it down enough. Doyle’s choirboy voice makes for an enthralling song. It is dramatic, lulling and entrancing, as it plays out over a large ethereal soundscape.
“Don’t Look Backward” is a more beat driven tune, with a smooth ballad feeling. Icy synths with various glichy effects create a lofty atmospheric pop electronic marriage.
“Manner of Words” shows off Doyle’s vocal abilities over a track that times out over 10 minutes in length. A pretty song with a swirling waltz feel that dips and veers throughout and the strings give a great lift to the song. At the end it fuzzes out into this wall of electronic cacophony that is in direct contrast to the first eight minutes.
The album ends as it began with an instrumental “Montage Resolution.” The track is crystalline in its purity and had notable oriental sounding strings.
“Culture of Volume” has a feeling of freedom from conformity as it edges on running amok at times through various genres and approaches, yet it has just enough control and focus to not be chaotic. The juxtaposition of the varied songs creates the texture of the collection. Where the veering would feel too choppy it actually feels seamless as Doyle goes from strength to strength. Among his strengths are his mastery of electronica beats, and his glistening vocals. The album is a grower that listeners will enjoy more and more with each spin. The release of “Culture of Volume” leaves me hoping Doyle continues with his East India Youth incarnation for a while longer.