After writing and producing for other artists since the release of his last album Magnetic North, British songwriter/producer Matt Hales returns—under the moniker Aqualung—with an ambitious, energetic sound. His new LP, 10 Futures, could best be described as a collaborative effort, featuring the likes of Lianne La Havas, Prides, and SOHN (all artists he has written and produced for).
The debut track, “Tape 2 Tape,” features fantastic layering and complex mixing that shows off Hales’ acclaimed producing qualities. This electronic and soul fusion draws similarities to Gotye’s Making Mirrors (2011), giving listeners a new experience with its “gidgets and gadgets” sound and carefully constructed club beats. UK soul and R&B singer Joel Compass’ vocals pair well with the song’s impressive percussion, giving it a slight Gnarls Barkley feel as well.
The only thing that could possibly compare with the composite sound is the video, created by Matt Saunders—who has worked with heavy hitters like Belle & Sebastian. Reflecting the musical progressions, the simple, elegant stop-motion and the happenings in the video become more layered as the song becomes more complex. Hales’ subtle electronic track gets pushed towards the front as we get pulled deeper into the anthem, until we’re treated to a full dance sound that approaches chaos but backs off at the perfect point, creating a major sensory tease. With its careful combination of classic soul and contemporary dance grooves, “Tape 2 Tape” is just the kind of jam you’ll want to listen closely to, time and time again.
10 Futures is set for a January 19th release. In the meantime, “Tape 2 Tape” is available for download on iTunes.