The Puerto Rican expands upon his prolific discography by delivering his most ambitious release to date.
An enthralling young artist who’s taken the industry by storm, J.R.P Seriel’s charismatic approach to music has immediately laid a solid foundation for his creative endeavours. Marking his second major release of the year, his 5th and most ambitious album to date sees the Puerto Rican expand on what is already a diversified catalogue, with his prolific output conjuring up one great release after the next. A swift follow-up to its predecessor, ‘Oasis’ showcases the very best of the musician’s eclectic taste, with influences such as FKA Twigs and Tame Impala driving the album’s experimental edge.
Given this scope of his artistic inspiration, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the sound of ‘Oasis’ cannot be ascribed to any distinct genre. In fact, merely attempting to do so may be construed as doing the album’s intricate and sophisticated diversity a total disservice. Fusing elements of Art-Pop, Indie-Rock, and Electronica, Seriel inflates his creative palette, painting an abstract, yet vivid depiction of the confounded and unrelenting thoughts which occupy his mind.
Instantly propelling the listener into his deep, chaotic “inner thoughts”, the opening track, ‘Neptune’, welcomes the complex worldviews and perspectives of a passionate singer-songwriter, composer, producer, and engineer. A mystical ambience consisting of idyllic synths, floating harmonies, and heavy reverb, Seriel’s resounding vocals are encouraged to take centre stage, with his prevalent reservations regarding social injustice resulting in him anxiously “looking for medicine”. Administering a densely layered mix, the resulting cloud of harsh distortion is frequently used as an exemplification of the frenetic, overburdened thoughts which contend with each other inside his wearied mind. Predominantly featuring at the beginning of the album, this mixing style can be heard on tracks such as ‘Medicine’, where the pummelling kick drum and assertive vocals dominate the mix, as Seriel continues on his despairing quest for a functional remedy.
While an undoubted hallmark of the Puerto Rican’s inimitable production style, on occasion the abrasive mix is susceptible to overpowering moments of instrumental brilliance. This is the case on the mellifluous cut, ‘Moonlight’, where the infectious groove which opens the track finds itself being hurled to the back of the mix as the penetrating snare and overly forceful vocals come to the fray. But as the track unfolds, the extent of these consuming layers swiftly become apparent, transitioning into a paradoxical atmosphere whereby which the mellow climate and isolated vocals beautifully represent a philosopher who’s suddenly found clarity within his thoughts. These delicate sounds provide a pleasant contrast throughout the course of the album, with tracks such as the aptly titled ‘Drowning in Silence’ finding elegance within a more minimalist approach.
Devoting half of the album to a life beyond the Earth’s surface, Seriel’s otherworldly production induces an ethereal feel throughout the tracklist, with moments such as the mystical synths prompting an oneiric atmosphere on the spectacular interlude, ‘Watertown’. This mysticism continues into the phantasmic ‘Gypsies’, where the heavy reverb and trippy vocal effects combine to forge what is undoubtedly the album’s most psychedelic track.
But as the “footsteps inside (his) mind” are retrieved by Earth, Seriel can be heard delivering some of the album’s most heartfelt lyrics regarding the sorrowful state of the world. Experienced most prominently on the deceptively tranquil ‘Sunset’, the musician takes a realistic approach, confronting the alarming matters of global warming while pleading; “don’t wait until the final sunset”. Serving as the axis for the album’s ethereal/realist trade-off, the penultimate track, ‘The Miracle’ ties these qualities together under one cohesive piece of music, with its graceful piano chords and theatrical strings inspire an expressive vocal performance through which an enervated Seriel concedes that he’s “tired of the same injustice”.
The diverse themes explored throughout ‘Oasis’ are supported by the exquisite drumming, whose intricate patterns dictate the distinct character of each and every track. Whether the militant structure of ‘Soldier’, or the upbeat tempo of the House inspired ‘Carousel’, this percussion serves as the foundation upon which the magical instrumentation is built. Combined with his potent vocals and adept composition, Seriel has crafted a remarkably unique body of work, where his ethereal production and poignant lyricism combine to elicit a phenomenal, transcendental experience.