What After This? - Wish I Could - Stereo Stickman

What After This? Wish I Could

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To listen to this EP as a stranger to the work and the artist behind it is to get a unique experience – one that most probably offers something different to each individual who takes it on. To listen with the knowledge of what led to it though, the ideas and feelings that crafted it, makes the music hit in a different way – it provides a light to follow, and it changes the mood of many of these compositions.

The ‘Wish I Could’ EP is the musical outcome of some nothing short of remarkably unsuccessful endeavors, of the realization that you are not what you hoped to be, of constant guilt, shame and remorse, of the ever present appalling self-pity.

The title piece begins the journey and offers a few simple patterns, piano and string-led, short and concise in nature – they weave around you and subtly build up in brightness as your thoughts wander off into the midst. It’s a stunning composition, expressive of the depths of human emotion in a pure and natural way – not taking advantage of anything that isn’t relevant to the moment, not veering off outside of the intended head-space. Thus, what you get from it as a listener is an equally immersive few minutes of escapism – entrancing, calming, and leaving you to consider the world and your role so far within it.

Riven Apart takes the sensation of rising intensity even further – a story-line quite clearly unfolds, complete with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The music feels incredibly melancholy in some instances, and incredibly hopeful in others. Contrast is brilliantly utilized, the quiet start draws you in with delicate intimacy, the bigger moments subsequently rain down hard.  It’s as if you’re going through this very chapter or stage with the artist – walking along with him, feeling what he feels, enveloped by the same sort of thoughts, issues, memories and regrets.

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Futile Yearning is the first and only moment at which you hear a human voice on this EP. In some cases that can detract from the strength or it can lesson the blow of what surrounds it, but somehow this is far from the case here. The voice has a notably strained tone, the delivery is beautiful, tense and tired but mesmerising – it suits the sentiments presented in the lyrics just perfectly. You can’t help but listen, and the words connect because you can hear how truthful they are to the singer. The song ends quite abruptly with the realization or admittance of i miss you – and so the thought lingers.

There Can Be No Absolution provides a moment of possible brightness. Again, without the title or the written guidance, the piece to me feels something like a flower growing through the mud. With the background though, there’s more of a sense of nothingness – the quiet and the space, the few selected chords and notes; it’s a minimalist yet incredibly emotional few minutes.

The EP comes to a close with a composition entitled Sleepless Nights – a concept that most if not all who’ve felt these same feelings of utter despair and regret will be familiar with. What After This? has captured the essence of life in the midst of sleepless nights in a powerful way. The soundscape is unsettling, dramatic yet still – the pace and the detail match up with a calm heart but a racing mind; precisely the qualities that collide and keep you from finding peace.

Sleepless Nights stands out for its expressive qualities and the artistic representation of what’s implied – a great way to end, and a final reminder of the superb musicianship and creativity that is What After This? The artist name encapsulates many of the feelings incorporated into the EP. The struggle is clearly very real, but the work that came from it is quite magnificent – often the way things tend to go in art and music. Well worth listening to in full.

Download the EP via Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify. Visit the What After This? Website for more information.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Musician & writer with an MA in Songwriting.

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