Album Review: “Culture of Volume” by E...

Album Review: “Culture of Volume” by East India Youth

East India Youth, the stage name of U.K. native William Doyle, only began making waves as recently as 2014, when he made his debut with the pensively ambient and pastel instrumentals on Total Strife Forever. A little over a year later, the experimental krautrock that first perked people’s ears in the direction of Doyle’s bold ventures has returned in the form of his sophomore attempt—Culture of Volume.

The leisurely crescendo in the record’s minimalistic intro “The Juddering,” is filled with familiar reverberating whines and synth; what is exceptionally gorgeous about this first track is the emotional oxymoron that Doyle crafts in the last minute or so with the glowing echoes of a keyboard. Left jubilantly melancholic, you drift lazily into staccato xylophone clucks and the orchestral themes of “End Result,” where you are delightfully surprised by an appearance by Doyle himself. His vocals are another set of contradictions; blissfully rising to hit the higher notes of the chorus, yet weighed down by his forlorn lyrics, the track explodes in an orgiastic finale of shimmering synth and trudging percussion.

The spacy tones and hues of “Beaming White” is one of the highlights on Culture of Volume, bursting with 80’s dyed synth-pop and Doyle’s ethereally harmonized vocals—without sacrificing the practiced experimentalism of his intricate instrumentals. “Turn Away” is the first real divergence from Total Strife Forever; still drawing heavily on a deep reverberation of synth and electronica that boom in the background, while his euphonious shrills dominate the foreground.

“Turn away, I should never be seen falling from grace,” the young Englishman sings between the jangle of tambourines and galloping percussion lines. The techno atmosphere of “Hearts That Never” blips and beeps with warbling synth and rapid drum machine beatings—pulsating with the energy of European-house.

“Entirety” is a heady instrumental that is pure bass-thumping krautrock, at some points burning like the background music of a Crystal Castles hit. Composition wise, the dreamy symphony of “Carousel” is a stunning assertion of Doyle’s tenacity as an artist. His bewilderingly eerie vocals float haphazardly against the tones of swelling strings, which—after the last vestiges of his angelic croons fade—burgeon into a synth-infused, melodious climax.

“Don’t Look Backwards” dances warily on the border of alternative-R&B with its twinkling piano reprieves and rumbling bass—which transform Doyle’s vocals into bluesy hums filled with pitiful longing. The ten-minute drawl of “Manner of Words” is surprisingly not a presumptuous strike in Culture of Volume’s menagerie of home runs. Instead, it is a philharmonic ecstasy that looms over Doyle’s agitated but effervescent wails.

“And so I step outside/Hoping that this burden I’ve contrived/Will give its sorry self to the wolves,” Doyle sings at the song’s zenith. Having come full circle, the album returns to the slow progressing instrumental similar to its first track: “Montage Resolution” is all sparkling synth bubbling gradually towards a frenzy of sonorous bass—before it finally descends into sublime nothingness.

Highly successful in its conversions from the experimental krautrock and electronica that painted his first album, Doyle has created an ever-expanding universe of emotion within the elaborate soundscapes that are molded inside Culture of Volume. Finding a measured balance between minimalist, but remarkably cathartic songwriting when coupled with the album’s lush ambience—East India Youth has effectively secured himself in becoming a household name within the international electronic music scene.

Culture of Youth is out now via XL Recordings.

English major and amateur photographer. I'm the guy in the corner of the coffee shop plugged-in to Arcade Fire, typing away like a madman.