Chuck W - Small World - Stereo Stickman

Chuck W Small World

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It’s a hell of a ride with no seat-belts – do you still wish to hop in?

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Synth-soaked ambiances, energetically vibrant and melodically satisfying – a boldly optimistic and colourful, mildly tropical Everything is Tolerable! kicks off the brand new project from New York’s Chuck W.

There’s a retro quality to this music, which, from the offset, delivers a sense of nostalgia and detailed, thoughtful escapism. As things progress, you quickly see past the stylistics, and are more notably drawn in by Chuck’s superb use of progression and melodic development. The stories and concepts, the feelings, at work throughout this project, pour through in bright and mighty ways – each composition presenting a unique journey for listeners to embark upon.

The break-through single is a track called Fakin’ It, a piece that sees distorted, mind-bending, psychedelic rises contrast with hints of jazz-like saxophone, industrial flickers of cinematic intensity, and plenty of space. A marching, ever-evolving soundscape, this track quickly ignites a whole new mood and direction. It’s unsettling, but fascinating, and feels something like if you were to fall into a few specific layers of an unfinished, experimental orchestral recording.

Claustrophobia rightfully brings through further intensity, uncomfortable exploration. Another new realm, minimalist yet consistently intriguing, later explosive and heavy; all in all, indicative of a deep, artistic intention.

Chuck W experienced his own awakening struggle with agoraphobia, isolation, and crafted the stages of this project during his journey towards a more settled mind or sense of clarity. His realization was that of agoraphobia all around him, and it’s seemingly inevitable link or pathway towards claustrophobia, and, sadly, xenophobia.

Where his previous album Get Your Shit Together! proved a debut designed to create chaos, to make and break its own rules consistently, this release sees a definite level of evolution. These gamer-like tones meet with emotionally poignant melodies and theatrical instances of expression, deep thought, and passion. The titles alone conjure up certain feelings, and the music works powerfully in building upon those.

Can You Smell My Hair’s On Fire? provides a sci-fi experience that feels partly like a quiet eighties jam and partly like the montage music for a classic, other-worldly film. Take A Few and Call Me In Two Months then prompts an unexpected consideration of modern mental health and the healthcare systems (though perhaps, as is common elsewhere on the album, this process is personally interpreted by each individual listener).

As things go on, light gathers around you intermittently with darkness – sometimes there’s optimism, other times there’s a vast sense of worthlessness or giving up. Agoraxenophobedelica is an industrial, distorted example of the latter.

Get On With It subtly brightens things up, presents gentle energy and movement, though it’s a fleeting sensation with flickers of uncertainty. My Head Is Swimming then offers perhaps the most alt-rock track of the project – feeling like a live band again, experimenting, losing themselves in the moment; again indicative of the underlying concept, the individual lost in thought. Intensity rises in an inescapable way.

Then you get a little melody, a little noise and rhythm that is Grasping At Straws. After which Don’t Be Scrrrrd ignites a minimalist aura of delicacy, with higher notes and a raw rhythm section – a welcomed moment of lightness and intrigue. 0 2 60 2 6 keeps the quiet constant but makes use of simple, speeding details that feel either like race-cars or a world storming by outside of the bubble.

I Almost Went Outside Today fits in with the sounds and traits we’ve come to familiarise with throughout the playlist. The title is more provocative, and the melody within is notably unusual, disjointed, and brilliantly unsure of itself. The latter half envelops the listener in the weight of that uncertainty and surrounding, unstoppable blur of chaos. Then you get How Many Times Do I Gotta Tell Ya?, a question that brings back the artist, brings back the humanity of the project. A dark and loud moment that comes crashing into the room.

Conflicted sees things end in a mildly tropical, computerized world of gentle collisions and – one last time – uncertainty. A softly seductive and spiraling journey through indecision and confusion.

While a vastly lyric-less environment, Small World takes listeners through an eclectic and unpredictable array of stories and experiences. Your mind fills in the blanks, and that’s unique to each who gets involved. Without a doubt, you can hear these being utilized in film and other art-forms, and you can barely compare this to any other artist’s work right now. A powerful representation of true, uninhibited creativity and artistic depth.

Album out February 11th. Find & follow Chuck W on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram or visit his Website.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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