Music for me is an opportunity to make up stories in my mind. Fed with the sonic information, I can create scenarios with the presented words and instrumentation. Enter Fredwave. A name I’ve seen a couple times on the timeline but to be honest, haven’t clicked deeper to find out why he’s there.
A month ago, I started to share new music releases every Friday and once again this Friday, Fredwave popped up on my radar with his latest offering, ‘Failure’. So, during a long quiet trip down the central line on a Sunday evening, I cue up the EP and am transported into Fredwave’s world.
Initially, presented with what sounds like a monologue, as I listen deeper, an image appears in my mind of a guy named Aaron laying on a couch watching TV while his girlfriend is explaining the financial benefits of job seekers allowance. As someone who has filled out those forms before, I begin to think about the feeling of being unwanted. Redundancies drive proud people to ask for help they feel they don’t need. From the lack of responses in this first track, it seems he is either ignoring the advice or doesn’t want to come to the realisation that this is a decision he needs to take seriously. This song is a great introduction and plays well with the title of the EP.
As I pull into Leytonstone station, I skip back to the second track ‘Drown’ which plays like the inner thoughts of the guy I imagined earlier on the couch. He is internalising the feelings of annoyance about the situation he finds himself in. At the same time, the lyrics make it clear he has indeed ‘been here before’. Aside from the softly spoken but strong words, the basslines that creep in after the first minute are punchy and tonal. The deep vibrations carry the skeletal sounds that make me feel like I’m walking in the upside-down world of Stranger Things. There are always new sounds brought in that keep you engaged and Fredwave’s words fit in nicely.
As the third track plays, I get a sense of déjà vu. I remember hearing ’99’ before but can’t place where. As it continues with the story of the hardships of the main character, the third song demonstrates a sign of confidence in the sense of knowing oneself. Fredwave is forthcoming and explains the reasons why he cannot carry on a relationship. From issues with the male family members of his woman, to not feeling at home, he gains the strength and courage to say his piece and keeps it moving. Musically, this track is brilliant. From the strong bass to the wonderful guitar solo, this track sounds meticulously created to include many different electronic sounds. Even the sparingly arcade commentary alongside the ad-libs re-enforce the feelings expressed.
Here we go again / round and round we go / this truly has no end / why do we pretend
With 2 stops to go on my journey, after many reloads, I get to the penultimate track ‘Pray’. As the electronic pulses activate my headphones, Fredwave sings for help. His guard plummets to the floor as he pleads to a divine entity for forgiveness and shelter. It seems that the character I have created while listening to this EP, is losing confidence and falling victim to his circumstance. At this point, it looks like his prior decisions to take care of his life on his own and distance himself from others has led him to a place where he feels he has nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. This song includes the only feature and what a feature it is. Alongside the pain that is in Fredwave’s voice are the ethereal tones of singer-songwriter, Sipprell. Personally having seen her perform a few times and releasing one of my favourite songs last year, Journey – the element she brings to this song is very much welcomed. It serves as somewhat of an answer to his plea and gives you the faith that everything is going to work out. Sipprell’s voice intercedes on his behalf, without feeling overpowering or invasive, but there is strength in the subtle tones of her voice.
As I’m walking down Oxford Street surrounded by bright lights and freezing tourists, my eardrums are stimulated by the cries of Fredwave as he ends the project with the title track ‘Failure’. It seems the prayers he sent up in the previous track haven’t materialised in his salvation. As he falls deeper into the abyss, his voice shows signs of giving up, even the beat behind his words are broken in places. Small pauses are noticeable due to the weight of the sound and the heavy bassline. As the song goes on, it sounds as if his strength is waning as the beat takes over.
If my souls starts soaring / Mother I’m, sorry
The haunting last words bring you to a point of no return. Right now, there is no apparent happy ending. No pulling through and rising through the struggle. This song makes it clear that the road to recovery is long and hard. He’s not there yet. Still falling and crying for help, the final thumps of the percussion leave me wondering about what will be the outcome of Aaron – the character I created in my head while listening to this album has not completed his journey. In fact, just like the artist Fredwave, he’s just getting started. The power of this body of work is in its ability to draw you in and have you thinking about alternative realities.
Fredwave has channelled his pain into a musical journey that will be experienced for years to come.