April 2020 (Berhana, Egyptian Blue, Christian Alexander)

FLASHREVIEW is a segment where I offer my quick thoughts and opinions (in the form of a capsule review) on the latest albums and EPs. These feature primarily on our Instagram, but here I’ll compile all the reviews from each month into one post. Hope you enjoy the first roundup! —Cherilyn

Berhana – HAN

Berhana’s HAN is a fun little concept album about a metaphorical flight. We’re taken through a sonic journey starting with smooth guitars, airy synths, and velvety bass; Berhana’s raspy vocals resonate well throughout, even complementing well with Crush’s silkier vocal tone in the bubbly electro-funk style ‘I Been’; and later there are more grandiose moments in the distorted and propulsive ‘G2g’ and the lush orchestral writing of ‘I Wasn’t Told’.

As a musician, Berhana tries to resist genre classification, but it’s hard to forgo the blatant disco/soul influences that take up much of the album’s sound. Like the syncopated groove in ‘Health Food’, the sci-fi effects and punchy bass in ‘Lucky Strike’ – these are common features in disco music, and it’s what keeps us on our toes throughout the album. There’s even a reference to Donna Summer’s ‘Love to Love You Baby’ in ‘Golden’.

Perhaps the flight announcement skits are somewhat excessive (taking up four minutes of the run time for an already brief album) which feature to emphasise Berhana’s attempt to illuminate a journey/experience, but HAN remains a compact and smooth album; even so, the skits are welcome at times that preface what’s to come: “We ask that you fasten your headphones….tighten until you feel the bass has reached maximum slap.

Egyptian Blue – Body of Itch

These three tracks pack a lot of punch. This follows the band’s 2019 EP which is just as short, just as loud, as the four-piece Brighton band produce in outbursts, in jagged rhythms and with a nervous energy that breeds urgency all the while retaining a sense of structure and melody.

In the EP’s nine-minute run time, distorted guitars pan right to left with drums brash and heady, the underlying bass rages like a nagging itch while the rhythm section blares like malfunctioning radio fuzz, and their harsh vocals create undeniable feelings of angst even if it’s vague what it is they’re singing about. There are moments of ease, but only happen as if they’re reviving energy for a second wave.

Chaotic but calculated, ‘Body of Itch’ captures the rush of a live show – we can live vicariously through it now, even if it ends just as prematurely as our license to attend concerts at this moment.

Christian Alexander – Growing Up

The English singer-songwriter who is scheduled to tour with BROCKHAMPTON has just released a four-track EP. With a simple arrangement of open guitar chords, fuzzy keyboard lines, and mellow vocals, ‘Growing Up’ takes on a manner so honest and direct that it justifies the music’s straightforward production: “How can I move on without you in my life”; “I’m growing up / Life is moving on / It never stops”; “You hit me right in the gut / And what can I do about it?”. Alexander’s candidness, simplicity and lo-fi R&B sound tick all the boxes of the burgeoning bedroom pop producer. And then he ends the EP with a voice note as if to remind you that he’s just a shy someone from Northern England recording music in a makeshift home studio. It kind of takes on the feel that all these ideas were jumbled together, but somehow created something simple and touching. Like scribbling thoughts into a journal and realising how you really feel.

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