Today, as I sat in a quiet cloud of despair, a song landed in my inbox. It’s a very good synthpop song and I can tell it dissipated my cloud a little bit. It’s a story spoken by some of the sweetest vocals, enhanced by every element of the song. Eternally captivating. So it’s time to introduce this song to you, dear readers, along with the mastermind behind it!
Alex Starling’s life has always been full of music. This Londoner singer-songwriter was an integral part of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, an English synth pop band, until the sudden tragic passing of the lead singer shook the group. Starling went on to perform solo for a little while before forming The Ghosts, which he toured with extensively. During a break from it, Starling started writing music for other artists as well, his music finding place in TV shows such as drama “Red Widow” and channels like MTV and Sky Sports. Between all this, he hasn’t forgotten his solo project and today he’s ready to release a new song!
“Tunnelling For Villains” is Starling’s second solo single. This smooth and emotionally atmospheric ballad opens up a different world, one with bars separating families and thoughts about escaping. The culmination of the song gets insanely pleasing and ethereal with the choir coming in. The percussion adding new elements throughout the song, the melancholic synth sounds echoing and his satin soft vocals all offer so much in this song, making your ears beg for another replay. In certain circumstances this song could easily bring a tear in your eye, either from the underlying heavy emotional baggage or simply the sheer beauty of this song. Speaking about the underlying emotions, there is plenty, as the artist explains to us how this song came to be:
“I used to live near Pentonville prison and there was a cafe nearby that I would go to for breakfast. It was called The Breakout and it was opposite the prison. Me and my friends used to joke about there being a tunnel from the prison to the cafe and I guess the song came from there. As you looked out from the cafe you could see people going into the prison to visit their families.. Around that time a friend was going through a breakup and the ideas merged into one song. I recorded a lot of the parts at home using analogue synths guitars etc. I was trying to create more of a sound than individual parts or hooks. I recorded the rest Ghost Town studios in London with a great producer Oliver Mckieran and my friend Ian Palmer came down to play the drums. They’re both brilliant. The song was mixed by Eduardo De La Paz who has worked with Arcade Fire and The National. He’s from Mexico and has won Latin Grammy awards. (Talented guy!) When he was working on the song he would send mixes with the word ‘tunnelling’ re spelled ‘tunneling’ I thought that was a bit weird and then I learned that in Mexico and in the US that’s their way of spelling it, so I’m waiting for my American friends to point out to me that I can’t spell :)”
The sweet soft sound is captivating and this song is actually pretty haunting and dark. I can feel that the artist has taken the lingering feelings of that cafe and put them all into the song with all of the nuances. The result is beautifully crafted melancholy with a layer of gloom.
“I hope that first time listeners to my music will enjoy the song as well as the sound. I wrote it on an acoustic guitar but I’m a sucker for big synth sounds so I couldn’t help myself this time but I don’t always use synths.”
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