Montreal, Canada-based producer, composer, and pianist Feren Isles sculpts deep and contemplative electronic aural landscapes on their latest album Facing Uncertainty. Feren Isles is an anagram of their actual name Les Friesen and was inspired by a Faroe Islands trip which lead them to a creative life. Their influences range from Ace of Base to Darkchild and Stockhausen. They have completed their music theory masters with a specialization in experimental electronic music. We can hear synthpop, and 80s, 90s electronic pop music elements on this record.
The album begins with the title track which has emotive vocals and a prominent synth riff. We hear beautiful vocal harmonies as the song proceeds. There is an 80s-inspired synth solo as well. It Finds Me takes us further in the synthpop journey. This song has a more eerie vibe to it. A synth bass riff forms the skeleton of the song with a high-pitched melody highlighting the chorus. We hear some nice ambient vocal soundscaping work. Wipe My Memory Clean begins with a memorable riff and some stunning vocals. The lyrics on this one are very sentimentally aware of its narrative scope. This is an accessible pop song with melodic catchiness.
Dig My Heels commences with some melodic phrases that build anticipation and some engaging basslines. This track has a key change in the chorus which changes the mood of the song from contemplative and dark to bright and uplifting. Don’t Make Any Waves has an inquisitive vibe to itself which builds good grooving musicality. The low-end vocals in the catchy chorus has an interesting amount of harmonic ambiguity. Waiting List begins with some synth reverb riffs reminiscent of Tron. Feren Isles again shows their good use harmonic ambiguity to give us a surprising track. Let Me Sleep is a danceable song with some nifty electronic elements. The middle of the track treats us to some neat electronic instrumental passages.
The final trio of the record begins with the cautious We Try Anyway speaking of relationship challenges. In Had the Answers we hear pulsating and intricate electronic arrangements with Feren’s soothing vocals. The vocal aural harmonies in the chorus sound beautiful here. The concluding track of the album, Inseparable, gives you a moody Owl City feel imparting a content sense of ending.
The music on Facing Uncertainty has a sentimental core despite being wrapped in some intricate arrangements. Isles’ makes optimum use of their baritone bassy vocals to cover good musical spaces. The lyrical themes which deal with anxiety, existential issues, and discovery of self-worth are brilliantly written. This album is modern new wave that wraps engaging choruses and intense lyricism. The album is mixed by James Benjamin from Breakglass Studios, Montreal, and mastered by Cristobal Urbina at CU Mastering, Montreal. Their work creates an immersive listening experience for the record. Facing Uncertainty is a record that generated cold and joy using electronic musical expression while making you ponder.