Oliver Spalding is a 23 year-old UK artist with musical roots firmly based in the realm of folk, kindred to its probity and emotional weight. His solo voyage has this at its heart, dressed in delicate electronics, waves of epic grandeur and dauntless honesty, lyrically and sonically, throughout.
At age 13, he took up drums and started to write his own songs. Oliver met UK producer Ed Tullett in January 2015, and in December of the same year the pair began work on his first release, “Unfurl”. A publishing deal with BDi soon followed.
Oliver’s impressive ability to breathe life into the many facets of his eclectic taste and musical range are demonstrated by his various other musical endeavours, including the dreamy gossamer sounds of The Wild State and the heartfelt, yearning Americana of Embasan.
About 'Novemberism' album:
“Novemberism” is the debut album of 23-year-old UK artist Oliver Spalding. As with his debut EP “Unfurl” (2017), the album was written and recorded with producer Ed Tullett (Novo Amor).
Built around Spalding’s staggeringly beautiful voice, the record is full of melodic, immediate songwriting and arresting electronic production.
Asked about his choice of title, Spalding explains, “To be melancholy all year round is to suffer from Novemberism.” And indeed, these 11 tracks are woven together with a common thread of heavyheartedness. Even the more upbeat songs, like title track “Novemberism” and “Bow Creek”, which drive and glisten with intoxicating pop hooks and 80s era synths, recall the darker undercurrents of classic New Order.
Says Spalding, “The album focuses on a certain period of time in my life and the things that happened around me. My honesty in songwriting is key. The aim of this album was to be raw and emotional. Emotions are scary and no one wants to face them, and that’s what I wanted the album to feel like - something that is uncomfortable but also beautifully revealing.
Synthesizers feature heavily across the record, including single “Bow Creek”, where iridescent synth stabs and lush strings wash over a hazy, late-night London. “I’m a huge Roxy Music fan”, says Spalding, “I love Brian Ferry’s work and take inspiration from the Prophet synth sounds on the 80s Bruce Springsteen records.
Opener “Athamé” explodes the record into life with a barrage of saxophone and cymbals, before settling down to “Xanax”’s addictive delayed guitar lines and Spalding’s world-weary vocals. The slow, dark R&B simmer of “Her Crescent” reflects in the dark, ethereal pool of Björk-influenced soundscape “Emissive”, and the quietude of the delicate, piano-led heartbreaker “Golden” gives room to breathe after the gloomy electronic cacophony of “AIBM”. Elsewhere in the album, “Unreal” sees Spalding’s gossamer, spine-tingling falsetto soar to the heavens, and epic power ballad “Everglades” lifts Spalding’s voice to its towering, affecting peak, bringing the album to a close with a shudder of thundering drums.
Music and lyrics by Oliver Spalding and Ed Tullett
Lead vocals by Oliver Spalding | Harmony vocals by Ed Tullett
Violin by David Grubb
Drums and piano by Ali Lacey
Saxophone and flute by Anna Perry
All other instruments by Ed Tullett and Oliver Spalding
Recorded by Ed Tullett | Mixed by Ed Tullett and Greg Giorgio | Mastered by Joe Lambert
Images by Benjamin Bardou
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About 'Unfurl' EP:
Brighton-based Oliver Spalding’s debut EP ‘Unfurl’ is a huge, ambitious statement of intent. The 21 year-old’s soulful voice aches with the emotion and craft of one at least twice his age, whether soaring over synthetic walls of sound, or pitched down to a low siren against soft electronic drones.
Carefully scaled up from abstract ideas with producer Ed Tullett, Spalding’s first release showcases his haunting vocal amid a sparkling web of shimmering synthesisers and broken pianos, one moment grand and intricate, the next modest and intimate. Both ‘Hiraeth’ and the magnificently epic single ‘Epoch’ reverberate with Spalding’s powerful, felt desire and despair, whilst ‘Unfurl’ creeps slowly to a labyrinth of staggered synths, and ‘Reverse Hurt’ twists and turns between eerie hums and glistening peaks.
‘Unfurl’ is out November 17th, 2017 worldwide on Monotreme Records.
‘Novemberism’ (album) 2019, Monotreme Records
‘Unfurl’ (EP) 2017, Monotreme Records
The Wild State:
‘Light Along The Waves’ (album) 2019, Beverly Martel