Best known for his work in acclaimed JOVM mainstay act The Orielles, Halifax, UK-born, Manchester-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Henry Carlyle stepped out into the spotlight as solo artist with 2021’s “The Ground,” a song that found The Orielles co-founder eschewing the disco floor strobe lights for thoughtful and lived-in lyricism and an intimate, dusty, lo-fi-like production.
Described by Carlyle as “a song about displacement,” the song’s origins can be traced back to a winter day in which the Halifax-born, Manchester-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began writing down his fractious thoughts of his unanchored passing through time and space. “It was inspired by floating through the universe and through time bouncing off events and other humans, never really knowing where you should be or what you should be doing anyway” Carlyle explained in press notes.
Carlyle’s second solo single “A Bigger Splash,” continued his collaboration with Julia Bardo (vocals) and Jack Bogacki (drums). The song was a strangely euphoric yet uncomfortably intimate song centered around Carlyle’s aching, world weary delivery, jutting and angular guitar attack and his unerring knack for razor sharp hooks. While sonically nodding Damon Albarn and Pavement among others, the song’s relatively young narrator is struggling with the difficulties and uneasiness of existence — as everyone has been for quite some time.
Written as a by-product of “going through stuff and nothing the time to think properly,” Carlyle explains that “I was thinking how these formative years might affect people as they move on. Which is why the song’s initial musical idea stuck with me and interested me a lot as a theme; it fluctuates between two keys, the end improvisation being the ultimate meditation in that idea. it all feels as I felt, in turmoil.”
“The lyrics are mostly about self-medicating, trying to instantly feel better for a transient moment and then reeling from that for a longer period of time than the intended relief,” Carlyle adds. “Which is why the chorus only comes once and is only two lines long. Nothing good lasts too long and goodness changes all the time.”
Carlyle’s latest single “I Float” is a brooding and atmospheric track built around twinkling synths, rumbling low end, skittering boom bap-like drumming and brief bursts of scorching guitar feedback paired with Carlyle’s chilly and detached delivery. “I Float” manages to simultaneously seem informed by — and mirror — the adventurous sonic approach developed for The Orielles’ Tableau while evoking the unease of a forced isolation in which the narrator endlessly replays his thoughts and failures.
This winter crept up on us. I started writing a lot of music on this synth I bought back in October,” Carlyle explains. “During dark evenings I built up an ambient track, ‘Prelude’ and when I finished that I realised it was the element ‘I Float had been missing. Through its many iterations, I struggled to get close enough to expressing the song’s idea until then.
“It’s about floating on through, not being present, doing what you’ve got to do. In a sense, it’s about living a minimal existence until you feel well enough to thrive again.”
Shot by Giuilia Bonometti, the accompanying video is based on a concept by Carlyle and Bonometti: We see Carlyle wearing a white jumpsuit in a park at night, bopping and bouncing around to the song’s skittering beats, appearing as though he were in a mosh pit by himself.