Released on Afterglo Records, following his first studio album Fallen Light, Phaeleh’s (whose civilian alter-ego is known as Matt Preston) offering of ‘Tides’ delivers to fans both new and old. Hailing from the same origins as other Bristolian mammoths such as Massive Attack and Portishead, it’s no wonder where this album got its inspiration from, using gentle melodies and flowing synths combined with a loose house beat. Phaeleh provides huge cinematic style tracks with each new selection of this album, using more vocalists than his previous work. Originally sticking to purely instrumental work, Tides invites vocal collaborations from Soundmouse (who has featured on some of Phaeleh’s most popular releases to date) and Augustus Ghost on the truly haunting ‘Whistling In The Dark’ amongst other similar artists. By doing this, the album takes a brave yet defiant step in a new direction compared to some of the back catalogue, but is perhaps closer to the music Phaeleh always intended to make as opposed to the music that the crowd wanted to hear.
The opening track, ‘Journey’, sets the atmosphere for the rest of this 11-track wander through a fusion of electronica, house and ambience. The return of Soundmouse in the following track will be warmly accepted by older fans, who will recognise her voice from the everlasting ‘Afterglow’ (taken from Fallen Light.). By listening to both of these tracks sequentially, the rest of the album can be fairly easily predicted – a feature that may split opinion on the success of it. The few surprises lie in the title track ‘Tides’, a simple minute and a half of piano to break away from the beats and electronic additions; and ‘Night Lights’ (featuring Cian Finn) where a male vocalist changes the timbre into something a bit more generative. The rest of the album is a wash of ambience and chilled beats, which if played end to end can induce even the hardest of days into a quiet, relaxed, thought provoking dream. It is clear that a lot of work has gone into the selection of the tracks, with great care into the ordering of said tracks. Vocally aligned tracks are separated out to break up the list, while the instrumentals hold their own with expressive use of harmonies and newer sounds. To fans of the older work, this should be an interesting twist on an already curious artist; and to new fans should hold close enough to what they know to intrigue whilst sidestepping into something altogether different.
With the the release of Tides, Phaeleh begins a summer of festivals, international shows and hopefully a few slightly more local performances. Having witnessed the live experience (there is no other way to put it) that is Phaeleh, it is in this writers opinion that Tides will start to open Phaeleh into the much bigger, wider world around; and that the reception will be all too welcoming. If you’re someone who goes to electronic gigs to rave around and jump until your heart explodes then this album will probably not appeal to you; there is little room for dancehall style tracks here. But with that being said, Tides is definitely still an album to get excited about.