LEWIS – Inside: Album Review

Lewis brings us Inside. The sound of the Apocalypse!

Release Date:  19th March 2021

Label: Klonosphere

Formats: CD, Vinyl

Have you ever wondered what you would get if you took a big bowl, threw in generous servings of psychedelic rock, punk, jazz, grunge, prog and medieval folk and gave the whole concoction a good, rigorous stir?  I can’t say that I ever have and now, I don’t ever need to, because French multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Lewis Feraud has taken the trouble to do so on our behalf.  And the answer is that it sounds as dramatic, anarchic, alluring and as utterly fascinating as you would expect… it’s the sound of the Apocalypse!

Based in Marseille, LEWIS, a founder member of the band Tense Of Fools, is quite a personality.  He plays guitar, keyboards and percussion, sings with a voice that covers the whole range of emotion, from soft intimacy to frenzied screech and all points in between.  He’s also a qualified clinical psychologist who specializes in music psychology and listening to Inside, LEWIS’s debut solo album is an experience similar to undergoing a therapy session.  It’s difficult to find words that adequately describe the music on this album, but I’ll have a go. 

LEWIS names his main influences as Steven Wilson, Rover and Japanese psychedelicsists Kikagaku Moyo and suggests that his music contains hints of Pink Floyd, Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley and yes, traces of all those influences are detectable.  I’d even go further and add Joy Division and Edgar Broughton to that heady mix… does that help?

What really does distinguish Inside is its sheer unpredictability.  A song that starts as a soft piano ballad can veer off course within seconds to become, say, a heavy metal tune, before switching direction again into jazz territory.  Similarly, a soft, melodic vocal can unexpectedly and dramatically transform into a curdling howl or scream before mutating into a light falsetto.  It certainly keeps the listeners on their toes.

LEWIS describes his songs as: “intimistic metaphors for life that question a shadow self and tend towards a search for harmony, communion and sharing in a universe nuanced by mystique, both light and dark.” I’ll take his word for that, but there’s certainly no lack of passion in his delivery and the overwhelming emotions that these tunes incite within the listener are fear, foreboding and darkness.

Opening track, Entrance, is light and jazzy, with interesting flute and brass effects from the keyboards and gives no prior warning of the experience to come; that’s something that starts to emerge in Time, Money and Fear Part One as psychedelic keyboard licks and heavy percussion provide the backing for our first taste of LEWIS’s frenzied vocalizing.  Inside the Day starts life as a soft ballad and grows into a multi-headed monster, ending in a long, dreamlike chant sequence.  Things start to get even more interesting with Fox, a tune that takes the musical alchemy to extremes as it meanders between funk, soul, grunge and cabaret to emerge as a theme to a surreal nightmare.  

Cruel Word and I Just both follow similarly meandering paths that take in splashes of flamenco, operatic grandeur, blues, jazz and even a passage of medieval folk, before the slowly-building acoustic ballad Again, perhaps the most conventional song on the album, brings us somewhere close to an earthly orbit.  Cry A Man morphs from a Joy Division pastiche, driven along by heavy, twangy, bass riff, into a swirling synth feast, and King Of Falls mixes crazed piano balladry, some vivid Pink Floyd-like guitar soloing and a passage that could be a theme to a Spaghetti Western. 

Penultimate track, Time, Money and Fear Part Two is a mad, cacophonous, repetitive chant with all manner of antics going on in the background and the album is brought to a dramatic close with the epic The End, a piece on which synths and percussion evoke an image of a marching army and the spoken-word vocal is genuinely chilling and apocalyptic.

I’ve never heard anything quite like this before. Inside is a unique and adventurous piece of work.  Not, perhaps to everyone’s taste, but fascinating and challenging nonetheless. 

Watch the official video to Inside The Day, a track from the album, here:

LEWIS (aka Lewis Feraud) Online: Website/ Facebook/ Instagram/ YouTube

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