This EP came out of nowhere, and yes– we are bringing this to you on very short notice… but it’s so damn good, we simply couldn’t say no.
Atmospheric rock collective SOM – comprised of current and former members of Constants, Junius, and recent Grammy nominees Caspian – will release their new EP, Awake, on March 5th.
In an era where a pandemic has forced much of the world into standstill, SOM strives to remain prolific. Following on the acclaim accrued by 2018 debut album The Fall, the quintet originally planned to use 2020 to record their anticipated follow-up. However, lockdowns forced the tireless creatives to improvise. “We were slated to enter the studio this spring to track the album,” says guitarist Mike Repasch-Nieves. “We couldn’t do that, so we decided to do some songs entirely remotely.” The result is the luscious new EP, Awake.
Combining two exclusive originals with remixes by beloved collaborators Holy Fawn, Hisself (Johnny Dang of O’Brother), U Dye (Marshall Gallagher of Teenage Wrist), and Giuseppe Capolupo (The Devil Wears Prada), the short collection is a triumph of self-described “heavy dream pop.” Its concise compositions balance the gritty riffs of Deftones with airy, Tame Impala-esque vocal lines, just as primed for rock radio success as they are for shoegaze-loving connoisseurs. “Our past projects were very exploratory,” explains drummer Duncan Rich. “With SOM, it’s a lot more focused. Creating in a pandemic has imposed limits – it’s a test of working within boundaries. How do we make something expansive, yet digestible and impactful?” The tracks are part of SOM’s ongoing mission to “leave this place better than we found it.”
In advance of the EP’s release, SOM has unveiled a striking video accompaniment to opening track, “Awake // Sedate.” Now playing at BrooklynVegan, the video was written and directed by Samia Zaidi, a queer Muslim artist and filmmaker based in the East Bay area and Los Angeles. From examining simple meditative moments to complex cross sections within our identities and the worlds we travel through, her work aims to provide a humble and vulnerable perspective that reignites the romance with all that is casual in our daily lives.
Says Repasch-Nieves of the video, “Samia’s a long-time friend, and we’d been looking for a chance to collaborate. Upon hearing the song, she almost immediately came up with this concept for the video. We let her run with it, and couldn’t be happier with the results. It feels like it echoes the emotional journeys of so many over this past year.”
Notes Zaidi, “This song feels like a dream sequence full of raw emotion, the lyrics so anchored within immediate reality. Setting out to create an audiovisual time capsule of this strange year together felt appropriate. Our goal was simple: to create a chromatic tapestry capturing just one of these endless sleepless nights we’ve been experiencing since last spring in a gritty and intimate way. I wanted to intercut our hero’s literal reality with fleeting representations of her subconscious. Color and light would play a huge role in demarcating new corners of the same space but also new corners of the same psyche. The limitations due to the pandemic were a blessing in disguise. Our shoot was beyond stripped down. This simple approach was such a beautiful way to re-experience a medium I’ve always known to be inherently complex. For anybody who’s found themselves alone in their homes free from the usual preoccupations; whose one-dimensional spaces turned into multi- verses with wormholes; who’s found new ways to experience the same walls, floors, and ceilings, I hope this resonates with you.”
Adds BrooklynVegan, “It’s thick and hazy but with soaring vocal harmonies that add a lightness to the song.”
Duncan Rich co-founded SOM with frontman and former Constants colleague Will Benoit, as well as Adai founder and now-Caspian drummer Justin Forrest. While touring on The Fall in 2019, the band added guitarists Mike Repasch-Nieves and Joel M. Reynolds, both formerly of Junius and Driftoff. “We’ve always been a musical family,” Rich adds.
Repasch-Nieves continues, “Will and I started a label, Radar Recordings, in Boston during the early 2000s, which was an amazing time and place for music. It was very much a collective of like-minded artists, which grew as we all toured around the world together in the years to follow.” The alluring Awake is far from the five longtime friends’ only endeavor to create a better world around them. Despite being recorded in quarantine, the EP was mixed by Benoit at his own Radar Studio in Connecticut – New England’s first solar- powered recording facility. Repasch-Nieves and Reynolds, meanwhile, spent 2020 sustaining an urban farm in New York City, while Forrest distributed vegan food to Black Lives Matter activists in Denver through the Summer. Equally philanthropic is Rich, who now uses his production experience to host emotional fluency events for men. While many musicians lumbered in inactivity, SOM used the darkness of recent times to create and heal. Awake’s bliss is an insight not only into the kind of harmony the quintet seeks to cultivate in all facets of life, but also the exciting second full-length that looms on the horizon.