Fase Luna, the third studio album by LA Priest, ventures into uncharted territories, showcasing a departure from the artist’s signature sound. While it is commendable to see an artist experiment and take risks, will it pay off for LA Priest aka Sam Eastgate?
The somewhat enigmatic figure that Eastgate manages to convey is impressive. From interviews, collaborations and reviews, he’s typically cast as some mysterious electronic ‘wiz’ who manages to turnout repeatedly excellent works in the genre. However, from the outset, this new album removes the synths he’s typically behind, and puts him squarely on a *checks notes* Mexican beach?
One notable aspect of Fase Luna is its stripped-down nature, focusing primarily on Eastgate’s guitar and vocals, accompanied by Carlos Gabriel Favela Manzano’s drums. This minimalistic approach allows for a more intimate and personal experience, providing a glimpse into the artist’s creative process during his time in Mexico. The tracks flow seamlessly, capturing a hazy and dream-like atmosphere that evokes the sun-soaked beaches and mythical connections that inspired the album. Whilst this is all well and good, and insight into the creative process or ‘behind the curtain’ is nice to have – we’re toeing a line into threatening to become shoegaze.
Despite these promising foundations, and my own snark towards albums that might be trying to be shoegaze without actually calling themselves such, Fase Luna struggles to maintain consistent engagement throughout its duration. The album lacks the dynamism and variety necessary to sustain interest like Eastgate’s previous works. The majority of the songs blend together without leaving a lasting impression, leading to a sense of monotony. While some tracks exhibit moments of brilliance (cue track, Misty), they are unfortunately overshadowed by the overall lack of distinctiveness and memorable hooks. Whilst this wavy soundscape CAN work well on an album, the fact that this somehow feels more conceptual and experimental, stops the listener from feeling content enough to just lay back and let the album wash over them.
One standout track, ‘It’s You’, offers a glimpse of what the album could have been. Eastgate’s vocals shine alongside danceable rhythms, and the bizarre narrative, including mermaids, adds an intriguingly odd element to the song. Similarly, the closing track, ‘No More’, with its enigmatic atmosphere and ethereal sounds, showcases Eastgate’s ability to create a captivating sonic landscape.
Despite these occasional highlights, Fase Luna ultimately falls short of its potential. The absence of Eastgate’s signature synth-driven sound, which drew praise in his earlier works, leaves a void that is not adequately filled by the guitar-centric approach. While the intention to explore new artistic directions is commendable, the execution feels underdeveloped and lacks the depth and innovation expected from LA Priest – with him sadly ending up sounding a little bit like ‘Milky Chance’ (remember that from 10 years ago?).
On a positive note, Eastgate’s vocals remain a strong point throughout the album. His impressive vocal range and emotive delivery are evident, bringing a sense of authenticity to the lyrics and enhancing the overall experience. However, even the power of his vocals is unable to fully compensate for the album’s overall lack of cohesion and memorable moments.
In conclusion, Fase Luna is an ambitious endeavour that falls short of its intended impact. While the stripped-down approach and introspective themes initially pique interest, the album fails to sustain momentum and captivate the listener consistently. Despite a few standout tracks and impressive vocal performances, the lack of variety and distinctiveness hampers the album’s overall impact. Fase Luna represents an artistic exploration, but unfortunately, it does not reach the heights expected from LA Priest.
Author: Tom, Cardiff Store