Nine Demons is a water-tight album of lush electronica and dance beats with tinges of folk.
Catharsis is one of many motivations for musical expression. Translating emotions both clear and abstract into sonic experiences is a long held practice for artists. In the case of Feyla (real name Alex Metcalfe), there are a handful of demons to face on his first full length album under this moniker. Nine of them, to be exact.
Nine Demons comes off as an exercise in the development of instrumental themes, with each song or “demon” embodying an element, object, or concept. Opening track “Air Demon” finds swelling synth pads and occasional guitar plucks floating around a fuzzed out beat and bass line; it’s a refreshing gust that wakes you up and prepares you for the conditions ahead. It also serves as the oxygen fueling the next two songs, “Fire Demon” and “Flicker Demon”. These two pieces step away from the uptempo, glitchy dance beat of “Air Demon” and into subdued electronic pop. The most notable difference is that Feyla presents lyricism, evoking ideas of self-empowerment and vulnerability. His gentle voice pairs delicately with a touch of reverb, illustrating the spaces that he refers to throughout these tracks.
Despite the strength of his storytelling, Feyla’s lyrical presence comes to an abrupt end. The remainder of Nine Demons leans back into his instrumental writing and production skills. What remains the same, though, is his ability to create enveloping scenes in vivid detail. In fact, “Rain Demon” struck a huge chord with me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whimsical synth arpeggios kicking off the track felt loosely familiar; it’s as if I was hearing a video game soundtrack. As the density of the instrumentation built up, that feeling remained true. However, what served as an incredibly validating moment came from my curiosity-fuelled background research into Feyla, where I found out that he had professionally scored games before. Though not totally relevant to the work of Nine Demons, it confirmed to me that I had surrounded myself with the work of a true world builder, an artist with an awe-inspiring command over the listener’s imagination.
Nine Demons has a varied yet water-tight track list of lush electronica, dance beats, and tinges of folk music. Many would say that revising past emotions and memories is ill-advised, but these are demons I’d be more than happy to confront time and time again.