by Cayle Hotene
sir Was, the multi-talented, genre-bending Swede is shocking. In a good way. In a way that is rare, nowadays.
His debut album, Digging A Tunnel sounds like a fever dream. Snatches of candid overheard conversations, instructive passages run through it. His instrumentation is varied and extreme and original and just fucking beautiful. His voice, so classically European it’s pissed off with England, is raw and true.
Digging A Tunnel is in the genre of Electronic, loosely – but there’s elements of jazz, funk, hip hop here, too. Considering the inclusion of everything from haunting church bells to lucid bagpipes, it might be best to lay off classification.
Which is exactly what you try and do as a reviewer. You try and fit the art within your framework of understanding. You try and nail down genre points so you can point them out. You try and compare them to other artists – I had a line written along the lines of sir Was being the Swedish James Blake. After a couple of runs through I stopped trying to nail who I thought I was listening to, and just accepted who I was listening to – sir Was.
‘In The Midst’, lead single, has a mean bass line, a head-bopping chorus and just a patent atmosphere. It has a timeless, grainy feel.
‘Falcon’ is a bittersweet paean to love and the fear of loneliness that seems to suggest the two are closer connected than they seem.
‘Sunsets, Sunrises’ closes out the album in perfect fashion – it’s more intimate than almost any other piece of the album, with the instrumentation initially taking a back seat and his voice seeming louder than usual. His echoes of “Wish that I could stay here” travel through you. His declarations of longing are universal, and yet they seem especially pertinent to a younger sensibility.
In the midst of an astounding range of genres and instrumentation, the aspect of sir Was’s album that shines the brightest is the artist himself – eclectic, heartfelt, and shockingly, reassuringly unique.
Digging A Tunnel is out now on all major platforms via City Slang, including streaming services, but this is an album that needs a hard copy so head to Bandcamp and show some love.