The debut single from multi-instrumentalist Sam Thomas, is a song which from its first play right through numerous others, and even now, brings a provocation to thoughts and emotions as well as opening up visions and imagination to go along with its evocative sounds and ideas. The initial lingering thought is do I like it to just how good or impressive is it and in some ways that question is still in the air but the bottom line is that the song is a wonderful piece of composing and realisation incorporating a rich soak of invention and thought. Yes it still niggles at the passions for undefined reasons but in the best kind of way pushing doubts ultimately aside.
Thomas, the son of a former Opera singer, was soon learning the craft of percussion at the age of four which inevitably brought the drums into sight for the youngster. Attempts to learn more classical instruments were not as successful due to, in his assumption, his dyslexia but moving into his teen years Thomas was teaching himself guitar, piano, and bass whilst playing in his school’s swing band and orchestra as well as singing in the choir. Growing up on a diet of classical music for his ears as well as Elvis, Beatles, and Beach Boys through his mother’s record collection, Thomas has evolved the perfect merger in his music on the evidence of the single, the song alone forging a classical touch in a hungry union with rock power and energy as well as pop flavoured warmth. From school Sam undertook a commercial music course at the University of Westminster, learning about the music industry. It also gave him free access to its recording studios which Thomas embraced and eventually composed and recorded an eighteen minute track to which he recruited folk/grime duo iAm1 to add vocals; a piece they played live for a while under the name Samandiam. Further projects for Thomas included a 3-piece heavy instrumental group called Saiga and composing a 27-minute solo instrumental piece. Using the track as extra temptation the musician applied for jobs within the music industry, sending out cut down slices of the track with applications to over 200 people. He received just one reply, that of studio owner and Barber Shop production company honcho Chris Smith which led to an unpaid work experience, which in turn led to meeting Just Music’s John Benedict who fascinated with Thomas’ highly-individual style gave a go for him to record an album, this was just the second day of the work experience. Placed alongside producer Mark Sutherland, work began with the single the first emerging results.
I’m Gonna Be A Witch begins with a dawning of evocative piano and brewing ambience, its voice haunting and ominous. The track though soon settles into a gentle caressing of the ear with a sample of a child talking about what he would do if he became a witch with his friend. It has to be said the sample takes some time to get used to within the potent and descriptive sounds wrapping it, the guitar flames scorching the sky around and above the children whilst the bass and drums cage all with a firm yet unimposing presence. The guitars dominate the middle section enflaming and riling the intensity of the song to smother everything else but it only goes to spark a stronger imagery and reaction. Eventually with continued listening everything slips into place within thoughts and though still that sample leaves unsure intrigue at times its childlike innocence and imagination within the burning skies of the music is powerful and evocative.
The strong lead track is a single edit and it has to be said the following album version is a far better encounter, the fullness of the piece revealing the whole intent and depth of the invention with an equally fruitful result. The opening to the track is far longer than the single version and perfectly paints an enveloping scene for the sample to lie within and feel organically part of. The playground sounds within the classical piano canvas as well as the female (mother like) vocal caresses broadens the emotive and almost nostalgic air of the music, finding a crescendo of passion right before the children open up their imagination. The latter explosion of guitar invention and fire also brings a more dramatic impact and almost furnace like intensity to elevate the track beyond that initial powerful encounter. Though almost nine minutes in length our suggestion is bypass the single edit and head right for this stunning version to truly find the riches of the song and the invention of Thomas.
The final track on the release is North; another piece of music rising from a distrustful ambience with a phoenix energy and enchantment to unveil another openly emotive and accomplished piece of musicianship and aural narrative. Offering a new imagery with each play the track is a stirring and thought coaxing delight with its orchestral breath simply seductive and as dangerous and evocative in textures as the rhythms and sonic painting alongside.
Sam Thomas is destined to make a major impact, his creativity transcending and inspiring so many genres and flavours, and I’m Gonna Be A Witch an impressive start.
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