‘soil’, Josiah Wise‘s debut full-length release under the serpentwithfeet moniker, pulsates with desire. Wise‘s poetic imagery and Arca-esque compositions synergistically birth all-encompassing soundscapes teeming with myriad experimental textures. Drawing upon industrial pop and ethereal R&B, serpentwithfeets‘s music may induce listeners to revel in the artist’s musical prowess even as they blush at the album’s pervasive intimacy.
Thematically, ‘soil’ allows for subtle interpretation. While one unearths romantic cultivation through breath-taking lyricism (“Already I need him / someday I’ll plant seeds with him,” croons Wise on ‘waft’), one may also understand the album’s title as suggesting the act of spoiling tenuous relationships. On ‘slow syrup’, another provocative offering evoking a subdued Zola Jesus, Wise‘s delicately confesses, “Rejection is shaping me again / I want a lover, I don’t want a friend.” While the soil, a fertile bedroom upon which all terrestrial life depends, contains within it the potential for blossoming life, soiled, rotting fruits may repulse as life inevitably grows decrepit.
serpentwithfeet presents these competing themes as unresolved throughout ‘soil’. Just as ‘cherubim’, ‘bless ur heart’, and ‘fragrant’ resolutely project ecstasy, admiration, and determination, ‘wrong tree’, ‘mourning song’, and ‘seedless’ feel strained, anguished, desperate. Even as Wise‘s voice caresses listeners, there is immense sorrow. By the record’s cathartic, transcendent conclusion, one might understandably be left sobbing, clenching a lover — if not aimlessly grasping for air.
serpentwithfeet emerges from the earth with ‘soil’, a sensual and complex record that ought to enthrall listeners. Expansive arrangements offer ample space for mental exploration while Josiah Wise‘s lyrical mastery will drain audiences in the most pleasant sense imaginable. Although ‘soil’, not feel immediately/easily accessible, either technically or emotionally, this release is, arguably, essential listening.
The full tracklist is as follows:
3. wrong tree
5. mourning song
10. slow syrup
11. bless ur heart
‘soil’ is out now via Secretly Canadian.