Liam Murphy

February 9, 2023

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Both yearning and reluctant, modest MIDI tracks convey an aversion to happiness on this release

Sometimes the best way to show melancholy is simply through the absence of happiness, rather than overt sadness. This occurs in two ways on the title track of Soul▲Craft’s new release, aptly named Anhedonia. The slightly fuzzed soundbite the listener is treated to inspires those warm feelings of nostalgia old TV/film often does but the contents of what is being said, though giving a slight joviality in its tone, is lacking in positivity. A young girl who’s birthday is ignored by her family and those around her. Equally, though the instrumentation is bright and plays on that same 80s easygoing nostalgia, there’s an inescapable wistful and downbeat energy present in it. Even with the fun, wobbly synth, things feel downbeat. It isn’t a happy melody but rather a poignant one, developing a character that can’t seem to beat feelings of sadness – as the track and album title convey – but is committed to make the best of it.

The next track, entitled Her slow turn, is pensive and dives deeper into feelings of sorrow with fragile melodies conveyed through a generally pleasing MIDIwave sound. Often music of this style can convey this feeling of striving for a happiness that never fully ameliorates. The sound and velocity of the keys always yearning towards an organic passion but falling short of it. Soul▲Craft takes a pained melody that pushes upwards with a determined force, only to fall back into a wistful motif. 

There is a sense that we might overcome our bout of Anhedonia as we cruise into the last track. Rollerskating at sunset brings a more textured approach to the MIDI style and, with this, a decidedly more optimistic tone. Low organic-sounding keys thrum out a sturdy rhythm launching into a fun motif with a simply but joyous monophonic lead synth providing an ornate melody. Pad strings float in to give a reassuring backdrop to the strong instrumentation. There’s a modest brightness that wasn’t there before, a sense of promise. 

Soul▲Craft achieves a unique mood on the three track EP. Setting out an absence of happiness early on, a narrative is played out over the short time. The MIDI nature of Anhedonia lends itself to a bright, quaint sound, but this is used to communicate a mood that is admissive of melancholy. It is bittersweet, but finds its catharsis in the last moments.