Delicately ignorant and sadly comfortable, Sly Fieri inhabits a captivating world of contrasts on his debut project flameboy advance. Capital letters are by no means the only formality he disposes of as this dense six-track EP saw an unorthodox platform release on DVD last month and, sonically, occupies a space that refuses to be pinned down. Furnishing lo-fi soundscapes with rich imagery and melancholic melodies, Sly manages to bring a complexity to this minimalist environment that is, at times, genuinely beautiful.
One half of the Nokia Mansion duo that has been making a lot of noise (literally) on the Brighton scene, Sly Fieri shows no lack of creative direction as he embarks on his solo career. Settling deeper into the syncopated rhythms and pared-back sound that debuted on his first solo track ‘Fine Line’, Sly’s voice has refined into something more melodic while still retaining a distant breathlessness that lends an almost ethereal quality to the project. This is no more evident than in the forthcoming self-produced single ‘river phoenix’ which, in light-footed flows and eerie discordance, finds its groove in a sort of upbeat depressiveness that embodies the flameboy advance sound.
And Sly really does stay sadly comfortable until the end, opening with the unashamedly vulnerable ‘lonely’ and closing with the words “you’re a victim of yourself” on final track ‘health’, flameboy advance navigates the contrast between uplifting melodies and lo-fi gloom with a fragility that is chock-full of emotional complexity. These raw juxtapositions reach a climax on the paradoxically confused ‘i know’ which, as the cascading chorus and hoarse harmonies collapse into distorted turbulence, practically buckles under the weight of Sly’s emotions. This is not to say he doesn’t explore the boundaries of this sound, however, as flameboy advance moves from murky bass throbs to gently overlapping vocals, expressing an impressive range of emotions while still remaining wholly distinct in its minimalist complexity.
On a deeper level, flameboy advance’s captivating contrasts are a powerful statement for UK music as a whole, being released on multimedia Brighton-based platform OFFIE MAG’s brand new label Off Licence Records and having been brought out at Lava La Rue’s gig at Brighton’s Komedia last month, Sly Fieri is part of an emerging wave of artists exploring new sounds and cross-pollinating aesthetics. With such strong characters and a network of support structures in place, artists like Sly are truly exciting prospects on the UK scene.
And while we wish all the best for Sly, his frustration does make for quite the compelling listen. Did someone say emotional complexity?
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