While not assuming musical duties with Blackwater Holylight, the bands founder, Sunny Faris, it would appear, can be found indulging in other music projects, and it is one of those, WHIMZ, which I’m here to talk about today. Having teamed up with Night Heron’s Cam Spies, the duo have put together a project which is a dreamy amalgamation of ideas, that will leave you in an ambient ecstasy.
PM226 is the first offering that the pair are putting out, and it’s a five-track EP, filled with enchanting otherworldly soundscapes, designed to take you away, and leave you forever changed with its twenty-six minutes of luscious, dreamy synth doom shoegaze, guaranteed to hit the spot completely. While it isn’t a million miles away from the Blackwater Holylight sound, it also has swathes of seventies and eighties synth pop electronica, straight out of a new romantics’ wet dream.
The mix of Cocteau Twins and those early Gary Numan electronic musings in the mix, really does give it an iconic retro feel, but at the same time, it’s in no way a dated sound. Its biggest accomplishment is in holding back on overplaying anything, and in turn, mimicking those old styles completely. What’s here is fresh, while feeling like you’ve known it for a number of decades.
To go through the EP, it’s safe to say that four out of the five tracks, you will, if you know Blackwater Holylight, be able to join the musical dots, while the track that hits differently, must take its cues from the yin to the yang of this partnership.
The curveball track, for me, is I Wanna, but I will come to that momentarily. That isn’t to say it’s not as good, far from it, but it does dive us into another place entirely. This is the midway point, and in doing so, it splits the EP nicely down the centre, into a game of two halves. The first half being the AM, while after I Wanna comes, unsurprisingly, the PM side.
For the AM side, it breaks down to this, track 1, the aptly titled AM1, and the second track being AM2, so hopefully, you’re still with me?
ambient instruments, alongside the hypnotic soundscape, is captured beautifully…
AM1 dives straight in with an electronic doom vibe, not too heavy, but actually still pretty intense. This is the first time that the Blackwater Holylight and Cocteau Twins merging comes into play. There’s a lot of whimsical eighties synth shoegaze on the palette here. It’s dreamy, somewhat otherworldly vibe is tested at times, with more intense passages of electronica. it’s never overwhelming though and is all kept perfectly balanced by the duo, who tease at things to come for the remainder of the EP.
AM2 is more mystical in its nature, and as it slowly builds, the use of other ambient instruments, alongside the hypnotic soundscape, is captured beautifully. It has a somewhat sultry feel to it and is powerfully fantastical in its nature. While it isn’t a vast departure from track one, it definitely solidifies WHIMZ dynamic, in both sound, and structure.
I Wanna steps up next, and here’s where things take a turn. It’s still upbeat and yet somewhat intense but has a much more dance orientated vibe to it. Gone has the whimsical passage of eclectic shoegaze vocal, and instead, it is replaced with a more new wave electronica. An instrumental piece, it serves well to separate the AM’s from the PM’s.
PM1 ushers in the second half and sees the return of the Cocteau Twins styled sensibilities. It sits nicely into a style, not really darkwave, and yet by the same token, not completely shoegaze either. If you dare to sit back and close your eyes, you will feel its throb, it is all-consuming, and really takes all of the attention into its core.
By the time PM2 washes in, this is where the darker vibe drifts into the mix. Again, it isn’t a hard-edged sound, more a vibe, deep in the mix. At times it hints at a trip hop vibe, and notes of Saint Etienne slip into my thoughts. By the time it drops off, and ebbs away, it is clear that this musical affair has been truly intoxicating, and with fingers crossed, and bated breath, I await to see if this will be only the start of something much more expanded the next time round, let’s hope it happens.
If you are a fan of Blackwater Holylight already, this little slice of distraction will serve you well, and if you are unaware of the band already, then a listen to this will definitely open you up into a world of sonic possibilities, and on to new plains indeed.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish