Bristol-born producer and songwriter ‘Sam Jackson’ presents the work of new solo project Einsam, written during four years living in Vienna. The word Einsam means solitary in German and so seemed appropriate for a solo project by someone called Sam, but also fitting with themes of connection to and disconnection from people,places and language. Start this journey the December 28th with ‘I Land’
AT EYE LEVEL
After a year which saw three introductory single
releases, Einsam returns with debut EP Samantics, four
songs looking at looking and ways of seeing. The first
single, a song about representation, At Eye Level looks
at the way we view the world and the way we appear to
others. Driven by pounding drums and a steady, almost
spoken vocal that recalls LCD Soundsystem and Tom
Vek, the song loops around the refrain “How do I look?
How do I see?” before breaking off and shifting gear into a pulsating second
half about this dual relationship and its impact, building and building
between shrieking guitars and feedback towards a frenzied crescendo.
Einsam’s debut EP explodes into life with the
effervescent I Land, a song about self-discovery. Set in
the early hours of late summer in Vienna, the narrator
revels in solitude whilst exploring new surroundings
trying “to find a high place to watch the day come in”.
The instrumentation is bright and celebratory and the
introduction of Jackson’s live drums throughout the EP
breathe new life into the songs. Choruses burst with
marching drums and strings while the verses take on a swaying stride,
synths slipping against the ears, all mirroring the late-night city stalking of
the narrator. The refrain “I need no one” is a proud declaration of a newfound joy in being alone.
After the post-punk aggression of lead single At Eye Level the EP heads
subterranean into the darker Tunnelvision. Looking this time at ambition, the
song tells the story of two sewer rats, dreaming of escape. Set within grand
piano and deep sub bass, the choruses leap up into a hypnotic stomp
punctuated by sharp stabs of guitar beneath which sits a whispered chant
“Just trying to get out/Are we just trying to get out?”.
The EP closes with melancholy groove-led Turn it Over. This time talking
about ideation and anxiety, the first verse uses the image of sculptor with
chisel forcefully extracting something from the infinite world of potential into
the actual to illustrate the pain of creating and trying to create. The play on
words in the title points to both studying an object at hand and
contemplating something. The trip-hop inspired track is instrumentally
sparse aside from the steady live drums and tremolo Juno synths wobbling
under Jackson’s vocal, though there seem to be textures and layers passing
underneath, suggesting a deeper environment beyond what’s audible or
Train of Thought is a song about constancy and is
arranged like a long journey with a rolling rhythm to create
a sense of motion. Beginning as a bare piano and vocal
arrangement, it became a trip into a more electronic
world, finding that to better conjure the interior world of
thoughts, and citing producers like Four Tet, Matt
Pritchard and Luke Abbott as direct influences.
Second single Stuck Pig is a venture into Bristol’s trip-hop
heritage and Jackson’s birthplace. All about inner and
outer divisions, the song was shaped by the effects of
changing politics and rising intolerance, alongside the
push and pull of the new city and the artist’s homeland.
Debut release Pressing Matters is about the importance of
touch and pressure, and feels apt for a time when we
can’t be close. The song features the backing vocals of
Sophie Galpin, while sirens and traffic from the Gürtel (the
main ring road dividing the inner and outer city) can be
heard bookending the track.
This collection of songs were all first written and demoed in Vienna and on
return to England further developed and re-recorded with producer Adam
‘Cecil’ Bartlett (PJ Harvey, Ed O’Brien, Jehnny Beth) in his studio El
Chiringuito in London, Jackson’s own studio in Bristol and SS2 in Southend.
The artwork for Samantics was done by London-based artist Henrik Delehag
- a piece titled ‘Moon’.
Influences include: Massive Attack, David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Four Tet,
Kate Bush and Arthur Russell to name a few. Be sure to check the artist’s
playlists for each release on Spotify to get a more comprehensive look at the
songs and sounds that made an impression on each release.