London’s SofaTramp has been spending time with his dog, on his couch, crafting tunes. After a journey of listening to post-disco, downtempo, jazz-funk, glitch, and almost every other style of electronic music you can imagine, Wax On emerged.
The most striking element of this record is the structuring. Each song is an electronic ambient experience of synth melodies and the occasional vocal sample. At first, the songs seem to share an upbeat, high-rhythm danceability. As you move through the record, nuance emerges from the repetition of hooks and crunchy percussion. Danceable joy gives way to introspection and the occasional sense of melancholy. The track order is as essential as the layers within the songs.
“Get Yourself Together” and “It’s So Hard to Reach You” open the record on a high note, fluttering and bouncy. The former settles into an almost chaos that reveals itself later on the record, while “It’s So Hard to Know” is more restrained. “M.O.T.U. (’20 Mix)” takes on a rock sensibility and explores ideas of energy. Rock doesn’t stick around for long and pulls into R&B moodiness on “Forever Alone”, which evokes that sense of chaos once more. The word “alone” is repeated here, uncovering the emotional heart of the record which continues into the late-night haunt of “Wet Notes”.
When the album pulls out of the heavier subject matter, it enters into heavier synths. “Subroutine” reminds of a sports arena hype-up song, but certainly with more underlaying complexity. This complexity fills up the concluding “Breakfast in IKEA”, which finds the humour in the everyday — as you might expect from the title.
You might not call Wax On an epic journey through the psyche, though this is a journey nonetheless. Capturing the contemporary sense of self-reflection paired with claustrophobia and loneliness is a feat, and only one that someone experiencing it alongside us can pull off. For this, SofaTramp taps into authenticity.