strike eagle

'inverted'

Best track: walk my way

click album cover to listen

I’m delighted to review the first insight into what we can expect from ‘Strike Eagle’, one half of former synthwave duo ‘Glitterwolf’. I’ve really been looking forward to this one as it’s interesting to find out who brought what to the table. I’ve always wondered if working with others can in fact be a hindrance because without knowing it, your preferences may be a bit chalk ‘n’ cheese. This new five track concept EP titled ‘Inverted’ by Graham Waller is a well held together set of tracks filled to the rafters with his various musical abilities, something I’ve been aware of for quite some time…I’m just glad you all finally get to hear it.

Described as a pre night out ritual of video games and rock music, ‘Electric Donuts’ kicks off the weekend with a chiptune intro that does absolutely nothing to give away the fact you’re about to get the fright of your life three bars in! Jeepers man your nights out must be all-out anarchy based on that mood change! You suddenly feel like you’re at the opener to a ‘Dragonforce’ concert or a metal night at ‘Underworld’ in Camden…I can still feel my heart sporadically pumping away despite turning the volume of my headphones down! This is shredwave in a nutshell with pumping percussions accompanied by some slick six-string work and it sounds to me like we’re treated to some killer keytar work in between. It’s just the right tempo throughout and presents the perfect opportunity for Graham to showcase his finger work (LOL), however something tells me he’s probably not pushing himself…yet.

‘Walk My Way’ is a pleasant surprise! Another example of the vast demographic of variations in his musical ability, Graham goes for a funk-filled popwave powerhouse of a track! This is the part of the night when (‘if’ in my case back in the day – times were toughback then) you meet the girl of your dreams and all it takes is a kiss to begin that whirlwind romance. It’s hella catchy, Graham’s vocals and choice of lyrics do their job without making the verses and interludes feel too crowded and there’s a lovely sax solo slotted in for effective measure. It has all the components of your all-too-common cheesefest but it honestly doesn’t come across that way.

‘Strange Addiction’ is the part of the relationship where the protagonist is falling deeply in love and being driven wild by her like a drug. It’s filled with tell-tale signs of heavy Depeche Mode influences with a lean towards percussions created on a synthesizer. With a number of key-changes throughout it’s definitely more 80’synthpop than synthwave. And in his usual unorthodox approach, we bear witness to a bit of flugelhorn …not something you hear every day…especially in synth music! Graham’s natural vocals are actually very close to those of Dave Gahan himself…coincidence? I think not.

‘Golden Hour’ is more reminiscent of the early to mid-nineties. We hear ‘Lisa Avon’ on vocals accompanied by some fairly underwhelming synths and percussions. This does however let the vocals and lyrics take centre stage which is the point I think. The idea behind the song is the all too depressing idea that all good things come to an end and you should enjoy the ride whilst it lasts. I’m reminded of some of Annie Lennox’s solo stuff and a fair amount of her stuff followed this vein of keeping the important aspects obvious whilst sending the accompaniments to the backdrop for mere presence.

The fifth and final track ‘The Maze’ is a great concept piece. Meant to be the anxiety one feels after a failed relationship, the depressing lyrics really do encapsulate the awful feeling you get when you enter the proverbial maze in one’s mind consisting of nothing by mirrors and demons that do nothing but make it difficult to come to terms with your current plight. Graham once more uses his sombre vocals and some sustained moody guitar chords to cap it all off. This man has seen some pain ladies and gentlemen.

Overall I think it was an interesting choice to fit a concept in to a 5 track EP, and I would have been surprised if Graham had opted not to go down a tricky avenue. He manages to capture a range of feels throughout but in my opinion there’s more to a relationship than this EP let’s on and I’m confident that with more time and ideas, this could have been a great concept album rather than a good concept EP. Graham is very exploratory in his visions and I love the fact that we get to hear some of his key qualities and I can assure you, you’ll get to hear many more of them in the coming months and years. It’s only this fact that I think let’s things down slightly for me, that I wanted more. But if I put my musical hat on, perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing to others as you’ll have a ruddy good time when you do get to hear the rest. Joe Ward 8/10

a visual representation of the album:

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depeche mode, Iversen, Mcrocklin & Hutch and dimi kaye