PREMIERE: Preaching that life can get real sometimes, Aleister James tackles it deep in intimate new EP Sons of Victims

Sometimes music isn’t about the love of a sound. It goes much further and persuades us to dig deep and release any emotions we bottle up. There are some genres that let us cry and dance and laugh. Aleister James has utilised the ‘grunge’ genre in a solemn light to fill his songs with bittersweet emotions on his new EP, Sons of Victims.

Aleister James

Persuading us to dig deep and release those emotions, Aleister James and his new EP Sons of Victims will make you cry and dance and laugh, all at once.

Aleister James is a guitarist, singer/songwriting and saxophone player from Wellington New Zealand, on a journey to bring the world his ethereal indie rock and blues sound. His music is tame but enchanting with a mystical ambiance that is on one hand quite puzzling as you’re not sure how to appreciate the depth of his songs, and on the other hand, they are hypnotising because they flow so easily through you that you get lost among the melodies. Aleister James is a man with a story. Having had first hand knowledge of anxiety and depression, he shaved his beard to raise money for the Beyond Blue charity last year. Not a must to sing to song but not walk the walk, his mission to reach people with his music is replicated by his mission to touch people with his actions.

Premiering his latest EP Sons of Victims, featuring six new songs, Aleister James has embodied an almost dark and mysterious approach to grunge. The songs sound distant as a result of distorted and blurry vocals, which highlights this sense of loneliness. Aleister explains the meanings of some of his songs and although each have a similar sound, they create a different theme. For example, Central Park (after dark) he says is “about a shortcut through the park one night that I should never have taken.”

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The song has this swiftness about it, created through the rippling beat of the bass guitar. A theme of fear and urgency is shaped, which is the feel we get from the building tension of each instrument. If the music isn’t enough to enhance the theme, the lyrics “this feeling, I shouldn’t be here / heed the warning don’t go in, Central Park after dark.” The lyrics position us to be fearful for him from what seemed to be a traumatic experience.

Seabed (Foreshore) is a more ferocious song. Following along that sense of loneliness Aleister wrote the bare bones of this track on a secluded beach. The song’s fire is fuelled by the concept of the conflict over land between the Maori and Pakeha in New Zealand. The guitars in this song are speedy and the vocals are stronger in sound and faster in pace creating a rapid vibe and high-tension atmosphere.

Aleister’s Sons of Victims is has a range of sounds, instruments and a diversity among themes. He has channeled the darkest emotions and fears of people and transformed them into music. His sound is classic but fresh and interesting, and he has utilised the themes he is familiar with to fashion his ethereal indie rock and blues sound. A vent for his inner depths to spew out and for us to soak in.