£18.99 – Limited Indies Only Opaque Yellow LP
Soil features contributions from rising experimental producer mmph, sound manipulator Katie Gately, A$AP Rocky contemporary Clams Casino, and Paul Epworth – one of the Grammy Award-winning minds responsible for Adele’s critically-acclaimed album 21. The project recorded between New York City’s WhiteWater production house and Epworth’s London studio was co-produced by Serpentwithfeet.
Serpentwithfeet is an experimental R&B/gospel vocalist and performance artist whose growing body of work is rooted in duelling obsessions with the ephemeral and the everlasting – key components of his artistic journey from a childhood stint as a choirboy in Baltimore through his time at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance before relocating to New York City. Soil is a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of his musical youth before symmetry and sterile soundscapes ruled the roost. With the release of Soil the chameleonic Serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise) rediscovers and ultimately returns to the unhinged version of himself he was sure he had outgrown.
On Soil, Serpentwithfeet trades glossolalia and peacocking showmanship for intricately layered harmonies, a sumptuous bottom register that appears for the first time to challenge his fluttering tenor, and ballsy sonic experimentation encouraged by Gately, whose talent he describes as “making voices sound like elephants and elephants sound like car engines.” Together they develop an unctuous sound that suggests billowing clouds and the dense, plodding stomp of 12-bar blues. Once concerned with perfect execution of gospel runs and dishing up a gossamer falsetto, Serpentwithfeet is out of balance and revelling in the concept of mess on Soil. Particularly, what it means to part ways with sterility and the urge to uncoil himself in order to occupy more space. Soil is the moment at which he unfolds himself with zero intention of closing back up.