LISTEN: CIEL – ‘Same Old Times With U’

Full of lush guitars, soft vocals, and dreamy synths; Brighton-based CIEL‘s new offering ‘Same Old Times With U’ is tinged with romantic melancholy. The track is lifted from the band’s debut EP, Movement, released today (April 10th) on all digital platforms.

Formed of Dutch musician Michelle Hindriks, Jorge Bela Jimenez (guitar, synths), Kieran Mansfield (bass) & Lawrie Miller (drums), CIEL enlisted the help of Producer Jack Wolter (Penelope Isles) to create the atmospheric sounds on their new EP. ‘Same Old Times With U’ is an emotive track that tentatively explores personal struggle over hazy guitars, Hindriks’ pensive lyrics, and swelling percussion.

Speaking about the band’s debut EP, Hindriks explains: “It’s about moving away from a more introspective period in which I felt quite distant from other people and moving into a new phase of my life in which I was able to open up. We’re now releasing [it] in a time in which we are forced to distance ourselves from one another; but I feel more connected to the people around me now that I did before”.

CIEL have supported the likes of Hatchie, Sasami and Penelope Isles, and are set to play more of their exhilarating live shows once we’re all out of lockdown. Listen to ‘Same Old Times With U’ below, and follow the band on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jantina Talsma

Kate Crudgington

Introducing: The Desert

Having met at the Cambridge Folk Festival three years ago, singer-songwriter Gina Leonard and producer Tom Fryer have combined forces to become The Desert. Driven primarily by the Gina’s acoustic guitar playing and vocals, their extra other-worldly quality is produced by spacey electronica and chiptune-style glitching to produce something with cinematic horizons.

The duo’s first release ‘Just Get High’ is a bewitching slice of folksy dream pop, with similarities to the slower parts of Alt-J’s back-catalogue. Gina’s imploring voice and plucked guitars are an entry point to a song whose drama gets slowly ramped up by backing strings and synths until it collapses in on itself, mimicking an undulating trip into the subconscious.  

‘Playing Dead’ has a similar feel in its use of vox and guitar and is a little more straightforward in its structure, albeit more extensively cinematic. It recalls both the Spaghetti Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone and the works of fellow Bristolians Portishead, before disrupting expectations with a final flourish of electronic noise.

But it’s on latest track ‘Soulmates’ that the pair really live up to their name. As crisp as a morning in December, but with an acrid, spare backing, Gina’s cynical lyrics are perfectly matched by  hypnotic, dream-pop guitars and the absolute minimum percussion. And just as it sucks you in completely, it fizzes out with a pop.

It’s a curious, but compelling combination, very much like its creators. In interviews, Gina has admitted previously finding it difficult to collaborate with others, keeping herself and her guitar “behind closed doors”. But, with a producer and band creating a wider, more epic, world around her initial work, The Desert have found a way to make the songs really come to life.  

John McGovern