This week’s feature album is the debut release from Manchester-based synthwave artist Richard Evans. This superb eight-track collection tells the story of humanity at a tipping point and a world trapped in a climate crisis.
“This song explores future human evolution, alluding to Aldous Huxley’s novel of the same name. The first verse is about micro-plastics that contaminate the foetus in the womb, altering the genetics of a new generation. The second verse refers to CRISPR-Cas 9, a gene editing tool that allows us to alter physical traits in embryos. Together, pollutants and scientific progress are changing the path of human evolution,” says Richard Evans.
“For the music, I wanted to evoke a retro-future mood so placed these serious lyrics into an electropop mix of layered, evolving synths underpinned with pulsing sequences and rhythms.”
A British-Irish electronic musician, writer and digital media artist, Evans was formerly keyboardist in UK cult band James, with whom he also co-wrote and recorded material, and also a guitarist and songwriter for St. Vitus Dancers prior to that. Getting his start in the early 1980s, his independent creative projects have received nine awards from Arts Council England and one from Creative England, as well as being commissioned for various projects by the University of Manchester and the Manchester Science Festival.
Richard Evans’ draws inspiration from real-world science, exploring biotechnology, machine intelligence and the environment. For this album, existing songs were refined and new material was written, combining the warmth of classic synths with pared-down lyrics that explore real-world subject matter. Recorded at Evan’s home studio, this album was mixed by Hervé Girardin.
He earlier presented several singles – ‘Made Of Stars’, a song that stems from the theory that the building blocks of life on Earth come from space, and ‘Black Rain’, which is dedicated to the horrors experienced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“Sentinel is an electro-pop concept album. It’s important that art has something to say about the world we live in and there is no bigger issue than climate change. The album is my take on the different facets of the subject – from the impact of micro-plastics to the paranoia of COVID; from the origins of life to global climate protests, all in a pop package,” says Evans.
On ‘Sentinel’, analogue synths blend with melodic vocal hooks and drum machine rhythms. Recorded during lockdowns, the album’s concept is rooted in Evans’ acclaimed multimedia live show, which explores climate change through sound and light, electronic music, video and data visualisation content. Commissioned by Manchester Science Festival with support from Arts Council England and Creative England, he has since performed it at festivals across the country.
Richard Evans’ output extends well beyond the musical realm. He wrote, directed and produced ‘AEON‘, a science fiction drama encompassing a smartphone app, web series and live events. A published author of many short stories, he also published the novel ‘KOSMONAUT ZERO’ (via Dead Ink), researched at Star City Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow. In 2011, Richard devised and directed the ‘Gagarin 50’ exhibition, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.
‘Sentinel is available now everywhere online and can be obtained directly from the artist – digitally or on CD – via Bandcamp. This special CD release comes in a gloss-laminate card wallet, limited to only 100 copies with this special edition artwork.
1. Made Of Stars
2. Brave New World
4. Trick Machine
5. The Last Of Us
6. Black Rain
7. All Fall Down