I’ve tried my best to avoid as many reviews, or previews, of Azekel’s debut EP as I can, simply as I feel the Tipping Point review needs to stand on it’s own merit. Azekel is one of our own, having received the invaluable support and guidance that Generator can provide, and as such the review of the EP needs to take this into consideration. The Tipping Point was created as to source and support grass roots artists, with Eliza and the Bear a gleaming example of the process in motion. Azekel is the second artist to enter the spotlight, and his debut release, entitled ‘Circa EP’, is a subtle marvel that only matures with each and every listen.
What strikes one immediately is the title of the EP. ‘Circa’ suggests a level of vagueness, a term brought easily to hand in an inability to place a certain memory, or set of memories. However while Azekel tells us the memories are circa 2003-13, each track on the EP is given a specific year tag, as opposed to a collection of themes and emotions which are expressed within that decade long time frame. Admittedly these time marked tracks aren’t placed in chronological order, however in this instance Azekel may be asking us to reevaluate the way we order our lives. While time may be a man made invention, the human memory is an incredible fallible entity, and as such we have a tendency to remember emotionally charged situations in a nostalgic manner that suits our own mind’s ability to process these thoughts and events.
‘In The Zone ’13’ begins the EP as a buoyant affair, employing an upbeat tempo and soaring synths to create a track full of positivity and maturity. Azekel sings with an element of wisdom, drawing in images of supernatural beings and asserting a level of control. In this vein Azekel melds this theme with a slick, R&B beat and a glowing pop finish that results in a track that should be destined to exist in the top 40.
Proceedings are slowed to a more melancholic pace for ‘Official ’07’, with an immediate comparison to James Blake in both vocal style and production. Indulging in a more fragile, soulful state of being, another dimension of the EP’s concern over memory is demonstrated, as the voice in the track directs a longing request to an unknown partner. A garage beat takes the listener into ‘No Ordinary Love ’10’, and it is at this point one feels the EP has reached a cathartic resolution, as Azekel expresses, ‘see my father was present, but his presence was missing’. An emotional outpouring that is carried with the same beautifully presented anguish that is present throughout.
Regaining some of the original tempo that we were introduced to in ‘In The Zone ’13’, ‘Be Mine ’03’ stands as the penultimate track in this collection of memories, and musically is the most hazy period within the EP. An abstracted beat accompanied by almost indistinguishable inserts of radio vocal samples builds into the fact this track is tagged with the date of ’03’, and as such as is the first of the collection of memories and in this time the memory has become blurred and distorted.
Concluding on ‘Docklands ’05’, Azekel employs obviously distressed vocal samples, possibly his own, for the duration of the track, along with a simple yet effective repetitive beat. Appealing for the return of a loved one, ‘Docklands ’05’ is a fitting way to end an EP that tackles a ten year period in which which love, loss, and the relationships that bridge those two states, are dealt with in a mature and honest manner. ‘Circa EP’ should be seen as a clear statement of intent from a very exciting young artist, who’s ability to draw from a range of influences and create a fluid, coherent piece of work on first asking should be celebrated.
Words by Ben Blackburn
Photo by Shaun Bloodworth
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