Review of Juno EP by Vicktor Taiwo
When Vicktor Taiwò talked about the Juno EP with Fame Magazine (UK) back in April, touching on the experience that midwifed it: It was in many ways unconscious, uncontrollable but inevitable […] many ways uncomfortable and actually painful, he wasn’t hula hooping in the tortured artist’s ring, but was offering a glimpse into his life. His words, a modern interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh’s “I put my heart and my soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process,” breathe into every piece premiered.
Although not much is known about him- as to his biography, save for he is a London-based photographer and musician, this takes nothing from his art; his art does enough to reflect his personality, history, ambitions, flaws and overall humanity. The wholesomeness of his “As an artist, my taste is my identity” cipher is indeed satisfying. His pictures and music tell where his head’s at when he puts his soul into art: a firm follower in the Art-is-the-intersection-between-absolute-narcissism-and-crippling-self-doubt maxim. Cliché? Doubt that.
His works take a healthy bite into Expressionism and slightly leans towards Afro-Futurism, be it in the grey-base which builds his imagery or the hue of his songs. They speak to his self-confidence, consciousness, introspection; handle on beautiful imperfection, creation, and striking symbolism- are metaphors not a telescope into the interlinked past, present and future?
The cover art for Juno is creepy, to say the least; a haunted house, of sort. The seeming understanding between the pale grey and blackish-grey colours is didactic. Growing from the darker roots to the brighter branches, the artist comes anew- self-realization bursts seams here. “And I see you running into the woods, with your bright yellow jacket, you look lost,” Vicktor Taiwò’s wispy voice breaks the silence on the Synth-Pop Digital Kids, introducing the new world to us (or his lover).
An alternate experience better than the broken world, frozen sun, caving earth she’s known for equilibrium. She’s been heartbroken. She’s never known love beyond a dull shade. She’s told to run from her sad past into his welcoming arms (At least, that’s what the Guido Reni ‘David and Goliath’-inspired cover art draws us to believe—to kill your terrifying past and run free, free into a world of love).
The Futuristic R&B, a sub-genre popularised by Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Janelle Monáe, beautifully turns for a mellow rap verse. Solomon’s third eye sees her vulnerability and assures her from his Olympus view: Pick up my book of rhymes/Blow it and watch the dirt rise/Looking down at earth from a bird’s eye/Searching […] Just imagine if we all got it.
Her search for love opens at the Paradise Island, a place inspired by Joseph Rebell’s Moonlight Storm in the Gulf of Napkes. Backtrack. “This barren land is all she sees/Life cannot grow where man has been/But inside you, you’ll still be/In love, in love, in love,” even in Paradise she’s still held by her past— unknown to her, paradise- a place of love- has always been in her. The narrator’s hollow vocals float on the Folk-Electronica record while we listen attentively to the protagonist as she tries not to drown (You try to run a ship that ain’t steady/I would’ve shown you how […] Said you don’t want me to go down with the ship/I’m tired of watching you drown). Heartbreak sucks! Should she let him? Or, get crushed in despair?
Enter Icarus. Enter Feathers & Wax. “Two newborns with all our memories gone in a strange new world/I already let you fall once”. He won’t let go this time. The Icarus-inspired record hopes to save her from drowning: I’ll help you grow/Wings that won’t burn in the hot sun/Can’t watch you go/We rise in feathers and wax, child. Heartbreak sucks! When you’re in love with someone who’s emotional unavailable- Hey, girl, do you feel like you just ain’t worth saving? If you’re scared, look below, I’ll be right there- you try all to get her to believe you won’t let her fall (Ok, she has to fall…in love with you, right?). His emotions betray him as his raspy voice breaks on the jarring guitar riffs, reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s Dust. It’s a shame! Loving her fades as you pine for her (Fade). The production is way too beautiful for a melancholic ride, but what’s love anyway if not a contradiction. “I swear I was in love with you, but sometimes words don’t work the way we wish they would,” Vicktor sings on the EP’s most virtuosic vocal performance on Curse. The Indie-Folk track ends the EP on a high, even though the record touches on a low moment. “I was alone in my own head when you dove through,” love, right?
Why is he telling my story? “Maybe boys my age make so many fucking mistakes.” I guess that settles it then. You call this an EP? I call it a damn good piece of fiction (or non-fiction). This isn’t just a collection of loose songs to fulfill a yearning; this is a story told over 5 tracks, yes, he started the book reading in 2013. One of the best concept projects you’ll hear this year. Due credit should also be given to the geniuses on the board- Felix Joseph, Scholar Holder and Bobby Altman– for giving us the best Cuddlecore Folktronica sounds .
***You can catch Vicktor Taiwò on his North-American tour as he supports Ibeyi in September 2015
By Udochukwu Ikwuagwu