I would like to introduce you to Henry Smola and begin by telling you he will not write music to please the mainstream or make music he does not himself believe in. The first hint of this comes with the continuous mix of his new EP “Dusk” being the first ‘song’ of the album. Generally artists will put this last to allow listeners to hear each song individually, react, and then hear them together as the artist intended. The order given here forces the listener to hear the entire story of the album first, no interruptions, no chance to interpret each song as being completed with a different mindset. Here is that story.
Hearing a continuous mix is a direct line to the story the artist is trying to tell. Here each song is another chapter in the overall epic that is the album. The beginning builds the listeners repertoire of knowledge, gives them something to stand on and grow from. They are then immersed into the emotions that come with the music, the fear, trepidation, excitement and wonder of what will happen. Little hints are thrown in with different melodies that pierce the veil of secrecy behind the artist intent. The bass and percussion give listeners a foundation, something to return to when lost. The next portion of the mix is a quieter reprieve from the adventure. A chance to relax and take stock of themselves before something strikes. As quickly as the rest comes, it is over as the beat picks up and the complexities emerge. The cinematic journey the listener is on becomes almost treacherous as the melodies intertwine and the percussion is complicated, standing out from what most electronic music has. A transition away from this sound brings the listener hope, hope that they make it out of this unscathed and unchanged. Immediately they are returned to the frantic array of synth melodies that are fast and wild. The last chapter of the song starts slow, almost a recap of the journey. Fading in we can hear the wild melodies before they are prominent; bringing our sense of dread and anxiety back to the forefront. At this point the listener is along for the ride whether they want to or not. The impending doom is hard to stomach, but the intimidating music is soothing in a way, guiding us gently to some unforeseen conclusion.
The greatest stories told leave the listeners with unanswered questions. But what makes them great is the ability of the listener to interpret these gaps to their own experience. what may come next is unknown, but by interpreting the ending in their own way, we personalize the story and connect much deeper with it. Henry Smola has certainly accomplished this with the fast-paced ending to the continuous mix, leaving listeners puzzled, yet satisfied.
Blood Moon begins slow, deliberate, like you are being introduced to something to make sure you understand what may come next. As the song transitions to another intro of sorts, we are given a slightly higher register, heightening our senses, patiently awaiting a crescendo. A complex percussion pattern begins next. This is not typical of electronic music partly due to percussion not being the focus of almost any song. While here it is not necessarily the focus, it is important that the listener pick up the pattern and associate it with the creation of the song itself. The complex percussion pattern allows different moments from the end of the song to be brought out and given depth.
“The Sky’s On Fire”
This song begins right out the gate at full-speed. Their is no slow intro to get listeners prepared for what comes next. The background is made up of an intricate layer of synth, bass, and percussion while in the foreground we have a quick succession of melodies that create controlled chaos for the song. We are being introduced to upward journey of the album, going from a slow beginning to a more dramatic rise to the top where we will surely experience many more emotions than the song has for us currently. near to the end of the song the nature of the song slows down to give the listener a breather from what came before and what still lies ahead.
Another song that features a complex percussion and bass patterns sets the scene for listeners once again after a brief reprieve. The synth registers in a much higher frequency and listening closely reveals an arpeggiated echo. It is eerie in a sense, foreshadowing a desolate future that seems too real. The music level slowly descends much like our positive outlook on the ending. We are left wondering what could possibly be next.
“Into The Maw”
We are immediately thrown “Into The Maw” (pun intended) with the next song off Dusk. Though this track is played at a higher frequency, making it seem more positive. We are in fact at the crescendo of the album. The chaos is unrelenting as we proceed through heavy synth melodies and background made up of complex parts mixing into the fray. Though there are interludes between the highest points of the song, our hope for peace is quickly snuffed as the frantic roiling of our emotions begins again with the synth intro. There is a slowly built end to this song as we try to make sense of what we have experienced. The complex percussion pattern returns as a guiding force while the high synths remind us of the turmoil we previously faced.
With “Lilith” we are thrown right back into the amidst of a dark time as the futuristic synth sound implies. The spaces between the synth are filled with a heavier synth, something slightly darker. As a listener the song is not overwhelming, but the sounds combine to give a hopeless outlook. As quickly as that feeling emerges, we are reconciled by the disappearance of the synth as it fades from our ears.
The final song of the album picks up right where “Lilith” left off, capturing a sense of hopelessness. This feeling dies away with a slower intermission as the listener is given a chance to reflect on the darker portions of the last two songs. This period does not last forever as futuristic synths pick up again, combining in a complicated pattern that confuses listeners as to how the song will end, positively or negatively. As the song, and the album, come to a close, the listener is left with more questions than answers because there is no real conclusion to what has happened. It allows listeners to form their own opinion and interpret the end to be positive or negative, being a reflection of how they experienced the ending emotionally.
Six songs with an additional continuous mix to begin, rather than end the EP. Henry Smola has defied my attempts at a genre classification. There are elements from many genres that embody the spirit of his creation style and technique. As he suggests you should listen to the continuous mix of the EP first, before diving into each individual song. As is often said, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, allowing listeners a deeper and better understanding of Dusk. Enjoy.