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Review: Sam Akpro Explores the Dark and the Hopeful on New EP ‘Arrival’

After taking time to find a sound that didn’t derive from the pressure and expectation he shot onto himself, Sam Akpro returns with a four-track EP filled with perfectly natural experimentation that carves out a new era in his music.

Although we still see a propulsion of post-rock, this long-served hiatus to deliver ‘Arrival’ captures an evolved personal melody from the jazz-inspired ‘Drift’ EP back in 2021. This time around there is a more grounded, earthy tone to the tracks, and dare I say it, even a punky element inside, clearly showing a turn of tables surrounding inspiration. There may still be that same lurking mist that settles over each track, but this time the darkness appears with the purpose of rising pace and heavier percussion. This is explored further in the title track.

As shown in Sam’s previous works, those seamless, unwinding notes target a pull on the heart strings, but now they carry a precarious language instead. The strings from before have altered to a heavier, drum-infused accent which brings to life this inspiration of tumbling down a rabbit hole. Taken from a moment where the world stood still during the pandemic, we’re witnessing an insight to what was going on in his mind at that time. We’re sensing gloomier, murky waters that are backed up by fiery sonic freak-outs.

Lyrics appear more vulnerable and deep-rooted to what we’ve heard before from Sam, as he explores just what has been in motion over the last two years. These lyrical motifs become clear as Sam talks through where his head was during this time, “The headspace for this track was probably more of a depressing one, just because the world felt quite weird at the time. Everything just stopped. It felt like being in limbo.”

Though this EP satisfies our dreary needs, closing track ‘New Blocks’ appears more hopeful and caters for a lighter note. The melodies are lifted into a clearer dimension through Sam’s softer appetite for percussion and strings, and with the long haul silence at the beginning of the tune, it’s almost like a time for self reflection.

There is definitely a destination ahead for Sam Akpro and we may have just witnessed the road map of what is yet to come.

‘Arrival’ is out now via Fair Youth.

Photo Credit: Holly Whitaker

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