Another new music Friday! Today, the weekend kicks off with a new release; a brand new EP, Astronaut Complex, from alt-R&B singer-songwriter Alt Bloom (aka Ethan Thompson). The five track record is Alt Bloom’s debut EP, featuring singles Damn Baby, West Coast and Get Back, released earlier this year. With themes of love, romance, LA and freedom; Astronaut Complex tells a narrative of love, from the start to the end of a relationship, and presents Thompson’s unique and varied sound. And in addition to the music, building on the creative concept of the record is the artwork itself. Created by artist Dewey Saunders, who also did the cover art for Anderson .Paak’s Malibu; the EP artwork presents a custom collage of various space, travel, natural and Los Angeles based imagery, personal to Thompson. This is especially significant when it comes to the focal astronaut helmet, that ‘metaphorically represents the protection built that is shattered by art and music breaking through those protective self-built emotional walls’.
The Astronaut Complex was all about breaking out. Taking a step out of your safety in life and in love. In love it’s about putting your walls down enough to actually connect honestly with someone, and in life it’s about doing the same to connect with the world around you. We are surrounded by opinion and information and I often found myself lost in it. This was the step out.Thompson, on the inspiration behind the EP title
Prior to the release of the EP at the end of last month, Thompson also released a brand new single, Like Nothing Happened, with lo fi artist Smartface. A slight generic switch up for Thompson, with the infusion of Smartface’s experimental lo fi vibes; the track is chill and easy-listening, with an addictive beat running throughout. However, keep on reading for a track by track breakdown of his latest release, Astronaut Complex; with some additional commentary from Thompson himself.
Kicking things off on a high note, is Californian based track, and pre-released single; West Coast. Released back in January, and the first release off of the EP; Thompson describes West Coast as ‘the beginning’, and ‘how the best parts of LA feel to [him]’. With more chill, “west coast” vibes; the track is all about life in LA and potential romance. Alongside the alt-pop track, Thompson also released a music video to go along with the single. The simple sun-kissed visuals see Thompson skating down the streets and alleys of the city; showing off LA with some stunning views and beautifully captured wide-angle shots, paying homage to LA and the West Coast.
If you check out the songs on the EP lyrically top to bottom it runs from meeting someone, to loving someone, to losing someone’. A perfect, easy-listening summer song; this is definitely one track that will be on repeat over the next couple of months!Thompson talking about West Coast
Next up is a personal favourite; Damn Baby. Released back in February; Damn Baby is coming into its own as summer is well and truly approaching, with it being a perfect summer track. Upbeat, mellow and carefree; it is the ideal song to blast in the car, or in your headphones, as you go for a drive or walk on that perfect summer day. And for Thompson, the perfect way to enjoy the track is ‘with good people on a great night and hopefully with someone you can say “damn baby” to. Like the chorus says “one puff, two drinks’. Written on a plane and produced in LA, it definitely embodies that laid-back, sunny, Californian vibe that makes you feel some type of way.
Track number three, Get Back, switches things up with the infusion of some house/dance influences to give us an incredibly addictive, upbeat and catchy single. Produced by Brian Phillips and Devin Damato; on the making of the track, Thompson says how ‘Devin Damato showed me the start of the track and the chorus just came out. Making it was a party’. The juxtaposing combination of the up-tempo dance beat, with the theme of heartbreak and loss, offers a kind of catharsis. And it channels the pain and emotion into positive energy, and a blissful trance of house-pop vibes, to get lost in. Another track with a complementary music video; Get Back continues the theme of LA, with some more incredible scenic shots, and a combination of gleaming cityscapes alongside the open desert.
If I want to immediately sing a song live at a show I know it’s gotta come out. This was one of those and I’m sure we will be revisiting this sound throughout the project.Thompson talking about Get Back and his future musical sound
Next, is the first new track off of the EP; Our Love. Taking another, more emotional turn; ‘Our Love is all about loss and really feeling that loss when you see the other person moving on’. Showing a much more vulnerable side to Thompson; we get some truly heartfelt and raw vocals coming through, which are perfectly matched with the poignant melody. More of a traditional break up track that will have you all in your feelings; Thompson’s vocals are the stand out feature of this incredible song, with some stunning harmonies that really allow all the passion and emotion to come through. When asked what he wants people to take away from this track, Thompson said ‘I suppose I want people to take away that they aren’t alone in their loss. I’ve been there a few times and even though watching and feeling someone move on is rough, at least you gave it a full try and loved regardless the cost. That’s a hard and brave thing to do. Keep living and loving’. Through the heartache and lows; Our Love still projects a positive message of hope and encouragement.
Finally, we have the last track on the EP; Sway. Another one of the more emotional tracks on the record; Sway has a different, and more unique, vibe with an absolutely stunning musical composition. The oldest song off of the EP, with around 50+ hours spent on the original production; for Thompson, ‘it never quite clicked. [And] literally about 2 days before the whole EP was due we gave up on it and reproduced the whole thing in a night’. Similar to Our Love, being more stripped back and raw; there is something about Sway that presents such a reflective, calming and captivating energy, different to the other tracks on the EP. The perfect song to end the record on, leaving you in a peacefully calmed and introspective state; the last few seconds of stunning instrumental as the song fades out, gives a feel of serene closure.
I remember Brian saying, “We could probably remake this easier than fix it.” After that it was go go go. It started as a reharm on the upright piano in the studio then ended up where it was. I don’t think we were following anything other than our own ears when making it. Being sick of an old production will really push you in ways you never know. Especially when you love a song.Thompson talking about the production and inspiration behind Sway
So go and give the incredible new EP from Alt Bloom a listen; and keep up to date with him, and all his latest music releases and announcements, over on social media @AltBloom
Posted By Stevie Carter