Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Heaven, How Long” by East India Youth from the 2014 album Total Strife Forever on Stolen Recordings/PIAS.
Surrounded by a new wave of electronic musicians that East India Youth’s William Doyle saw as faceless and disconnected, so in response, he began creating electronic music that isn’t afraid to inject some emotion into its analog architecture. Previously the lead singer of folksters Doyle and The Fourfathers, Doyle found himself repeatedly abandoning his acoustic guitar for his laptop compositions, which ended up becoming his main outlet not long after his group’s dissolution. This stylistic change fortuitously paid off for Doyle, as his early tracks and gigs were met with local acclaim – his admirers include Brian Eno and The Quietus editor John Doran, who started a record label for the express purpose of releasing Doyle’s music. in early 2014, Doyle released his debut full length, Total Strife Forever, an album that alternates between brooding laments and minimalist, Reich-esque instrumentals to convey its full-blooded take on loss. At the center of that album is “Heaven, How Long”, a six-minute melancholic swell that showcases Doyle’s talent for toeing the line between being robotic and human, anthemic and insular, hopeful and hopeless. Like James Blake, the power of Doyle’s vocals lies in their nuance, and as he croons over ominous “Sea Within A Sea“-style arpeggiated synths, he carries the gravity of a man at a breaking point, one that’s reached at the three-minute mark, when the song’s motorik beat drops out a layered chorus of his voice pleads for redemption. As Doyle tosses himself into the ensuing rushing wall of synths, it’s unclear if he ever gets his penance (or even a response, at that), but the undeniable potency of his vocal performance and composition that makes that uncertainty all the more gripping.
Although Doyle has plenty of European dates lined up for 2014, he doesn’t have any announced plans to come to North America yet, so keep an eye on his website and Facebook page. Below, watch the video for the Total Strife Forever track “Looking For Someone”.