I remember seeing Phoria at a Soundscreen gig in Brighton where their ethereal soundscapes combined with lucid visuals to deliver an experience designed for escapism. That must have been four years ago and it’s only now that we finally get to engross ourselves in their debut album Volition.
But if you’ve ever heard any Phoria tracks before, you wouldn’t be that surprised when you consider the time and space they give each track to swell like a nebula. Although this often means we run the risk of hearing old tracks as is the case here where we open our auditory journey with 2015 single ‘Melatonin’.
I must confess, I never did like this track. It felt like it was too rhythmic to be a Phoria track. You could almost call it a downtempo dance tune which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but crowd favourite ‘Red’ highlights Phoria at their best. Their appreciation for space in it is beguiling while Trewin Howard’s wispy vocals drift across in translucent beauty.
Unfortunately, you do have to wait until fourth track ‘Mass’ to hear something completely new. It’s another spacially aware record made vulnerable by spiritual humming as it saunters along unassumingly. Vocal interlude ‘By The Salt’ provides a serene breather before ‘Loss’ drops us on another barren soundscape.
At first, it seems cold and lifeless – only distant clicks provide some colour. But as Trewin’s captivating vocals guide you along, it’s not long before you find undulating strings and delicate textures. As the layers build, you can’t help but gawp at your surroundings but this is what Phoria do; they turn lifeless, alien planets into breathing ecosystems and conjure beauty out of dust.
Towards the end of this LP expedition, you’ll come across a quiet gem called ‘Saving Us A Riot’ where an acoustic guitar twinkles in the sky and dreamy vocals spell out a track that might have come from a Bon Iver album. Its organic intimacy is something Trewin’s dulcet tones have always been capable of; stripped back and no longer supported by synths but a single guitar for the most part.
In reality, it’s no less than we expect from a band that has been formed from instinctive bonds making delectable music since its inception. There’s no doubt that we would have liked to hear more new music but we just have to be as patient as Phoria are when they arrange their tunes. Wait long enough and you might find something unexpected at the end.
Debut album Volition was released on 3rd June via X Novo