Pure joy and pure honesty never elude Hēran Soun. The experimental rocker/singer/songwriter showers the listener with a multitude of emotions and projections in his debut effort Undeaf. Part odyssey and mostly unchartered territory, Hēran Soun (real name James Freeman-Turn), brings to light his own loss of hearing as a child to create a tangible, out-of-mind listening trip. To call Undeaf unique undermines its true impact – this album marks a shift in the music continuum.
In the first track, “I Offer”, the listener is embolden to create a visualization. It might be dark and it might have circling, fiery bursts of light, but Hēran Soun in his own art-house style exudes a deep, baritone vocal delivery. He exhales the words, like they have been festering in his mind for years. The second track, “A Picture Of A Woman” showers the listener with love and light. You’re a perfect (he holds onto the word) picture of a woman, sings Hēran Soun. He never blazes through the lyrics. It’s as if each lyric were a song unto itself. It’s mesmerizing.
By the time you hit the third song, “The Same Battles (So Close)”, the listening experience is really conveying a strong sense of tranquility. This music isn’t for background noise or riding in the car. It’s for sitting down and really listening, being an active part of the communication between you and Hēran Soun.
Listen to Undeaf on Spotify!
“Bad & Worse”, the fourth track is instrumental. It feels like a bit of a ‘pause’ on the riveting Hēran Soun vocals, but it also proves to be a roller coaster ride of emotions (just like the others). This song stunned me in a way that the soundtrack to a famous movie might move a scene. It’s the perfect opening or primer to “A Lover Waits”. In this track, Hēran Soun taps his way into the song, with a surf-like guitar making a few riffs here and there. The electric percussion is saucy, quick. A lover waits, he hums and dreams up. In an eccentric ‘cheer’ the backing vocals muster themselves. This song goes off in many different avenues.
“When You Wanted” and “In My Mouth” are also incredibly odd. Hēran Soun doesn’t throw all the sounds from the kitchen sink into his work, he has a definite tepid water base that seems to always evolve from quick movements to slower to stretched out yarn. He’s constantly moving one energy into another pocket. In songs like “Let Me Go” that vibe can be moody, eerie. In songs like “Back Woods” and “Barricade” the tone is freeing and flying. He has it all. And finally, “Who Are You” has you feeling like you’ve completed an emotional marathon and you’ve caught a second wind. Hēran Soun never relents. Nor should you.
Undeaf is one album for your to-do list. Again, it’s something you have to be really focused on and can’t be distracted to get the full listening experience. I highly recommend this album to fans of The The, Air, Modest Mouse, Phoenix and Beck.