EP Review: Alex Vargas – Giving Up The Ghost

Giving Up The Ghost

alex vargas giving up the ghostReleased 22nd January 2016

Words: Nick Jacques

Here is Alex Vargas with his first release proper and he’s seeing in the New Year with the cracking 6 track E.P. Giving Up The Ghost. It is deep, thoughtful electronica for the modern era. Gloom and heart-ache are the two main servings on the menu here and they’re served chilled with a healthy dose of emotional exhaling. The title track is the most upbeat number as he’s clearly looking to move on and stop pretending to show feelings that aren’t really there. An uplifting electro hymn with a strong coming-of-age theme that is delivered with both soul and clout.

Since I saw Alex perform live at the cool and intimate venue Oslo in Hackney, he seems to have harnessed his voice to another level making it into a versatile weapon. This is evident on the track Shackled Up which is one of his best if not his finest moment so far in his musical journey. Spine-tingling acapellas, husky undertones, the slick production, pulsating beats – it engulfs the senses. He sings of how a relationship has lost its way and that it’s best they end it go their separate ways: Standing back to back to each other/no longer sure of what games we’re playing/those broken arrows won’t break these chains. Compelling stuff form one of Denmark’s strongest exports in recent years.

This E.P. is strong evidence that Alex Vargas’ song instrumentation and musical navigation is finding its scent and gathering pace. Solid Ground is a revealing & candid number as he shows his more vulnerable side. Vargas has realised the trick to reel the listener in you have to display a certain amount of fragility and exposure in order to gain their attention and with this E.P. he has succeeded in doing just that.

Growing crescendos and effective atmospherics are also present on here too. This is evident on Wear Your Demons Out. Glacial piano modulations echo and builds to an intense drama before dropping back to Vargas’ ever reliable and versatile voice. It’s expertly executed.

Oh Love, How You Break Me Up displays more slick production. On this track Vargas leaves it for the music to breathe more. Giving Up The Ghost benefits from having so many layers. With each listen unearthing new findings and makes for a more immersive experience for the listener.

Final track, Ashes, makes sure that Giving Up The Ghost finishes on a strong and vivid note. The murky and eerie build up with its soulful backing vocals and gradual intro of the layered beats make for an enticing finale.

The main components which make up Giving Up The Ghost are eerie glacial vocals, desolate piano mumblings, wispy, husky vocals that at times launch into space and an ever slick production that gives a strong foundation which supports Vargas’ dynamic vocals beautifully. There are traces of Jamie Woon sprinkled throughout and with nods to the grime genre in the process but this doesn’t take any originality away from his sound. Alex is making a name for himself here and the longer he continues to release material and play live, he will no doubt convince all those who doubt him otherwise.

This is proof that Alex Vargas is indeed exorcising his ghosts and moving on to bigger and bolder things. He’s poured out his troubles here and I think his next logical step will be to expand his sound and try new directions whilst keeping the tricks he’s learnt so far firmly up his sleeve so he can divulge them next time.

Listen to Shackled Up here:

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