William Doyle is East India Youth and he is another artist currently on my 2014 list of artists to get hyped about... Only unlike the others, he's already dropped an album this year: Total Strife Forever.
Doyle has graduated into semi-concept album territory on Total Strife Forever. Having previously fronted folky indie diversion Doyle & The Fourfathers there was an understandable expectation that he would create an album of songs. Instead what we have is the debut album from his new identity, East India Youth. Doyle has taken inspiration from his own burgeoning musical maturity, formed hanging out in London's strangely clinical yet industrial docklands district East India.
Total Strife Forever isn't an album of songs. It borrows from the approach of David Bowie's Berlin trilogy, mixing instrumentals amongst songs to create a cinematic, almost soundtrack-like flow to the album. The Berlin trilogy were famously produced by Brian Eno, and his same influence looms as large here over it did on one of 2013‘s best albums - Jon Hopkins' Immunity. And now Eno allegedly turns up to check out East India Youth concerts.
The album's title is an intriguing riff on Foals' Total Life Forever that attempts to capture the sense of overwhelming stress that consumed Doyle when making this album. He concedes that naming your album after a contemporary and successful band may be a mistake but seems determined to set himself obstacles and then effortlessly smash them down. That title itself is applied to four instrumentals that punctuate the album like fizzy intakes of breath, and they form much of the structure.
There is an interesting thing happening within this style of electronic music - it feels more reserved than the kind of music that normally attempts to expand out from electronic music. There is a clear crossover potential here, yet as with Hopkins, a brave purity in the album's more electronic moments. This isn't an overtly polluted take on electronic music. Hinterland is intense yet minimal, an extended breakdown and crescendo that comes ready-made for dance floors... Yet feels destined to spill out beyond them.
Yet mixed in with all this technology is a so much humanity. Dripping Down is an optimistic and hymn-like piece that mirrors the confused loneliness of Looking For Someone. The greatest realisation of Boyle's attempts to blend thinking with feeling comes on the somewhat staggering Heaven, How Long - a six-minute long Krautrock track that feels intimate yet epic. It is a jewel in a somewhat marvellous debut album.
Total Strife Forever is out now, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen on Spotify below: