Review of Descartes Highlands EP by Paul Thomas Saunders

Paul Thomas Saunders may well hail from West Yorkshire's sprawling financial, cultural and commercial city of Leeds but upon listening to his latest creation you'd be forgiven for thinking he was more of an inter-planetary creation, such is the other worldly nature of his majestic music. The imagery conjured up when you mention Leeds is not necessarily one of beauty, tranquility, serendipity or serenity but his mesmeric and hypnotic compositions certainly are.

After releasing a string of significant EP's ('Four Songs In Twilight' and 'Lilac And Wisteria') over the last few years, as well as coming to the attention of some of the more discerning publications around, he is now releasing four more songs of stupefying quality. 'Descartes Highlands' is uncompromising in its coherent and collective brilliance. The only thing you could fault here is also what makes it such a perfect package...........the fact that you are left wanting more and surely he could have given us an album.

Paul Thomas Saunders Descartes Highlands EP

'The Trail Remains Unseen' is the first of the quartet. As Paul's voice softly breaks in accompanied by guitar and piano you are almost immediately relaxed into a calm, ethereal, angelic and enveloping environment that is warm and welcoming. It's a clear cut abduction from everyday reality as the tender vocals and silkily swathed soundscapes wash over you in dreamy, weightless, breezes. Simon And Garfunkel meet the Fleet Foxes to create an ambient aural atmosphere of heady intoxification. 'A Lunar Veteran's Guide To Re-Entry' takes you further into the void of space with a subtly under-scored arrangement that draws on a more futuristic and electo-derived sound. The beat is heavier but the vocal no less beguiling. Up next is probably the most 'immediate' track on the EP. 'Let The Carousel Display You & I' is a beautiful track in every sense. The song has charm and character, Paul's voice is enchanting, the instrumentation is superbly balanced and the chemistry created by all the combined elements results in a track of seemingly simplistic brilliance. (Amazingly, if you're quick enough, this is still available as a free download).
'Santa Muerte's Lighting & Flare' is the final track and it rounds of the EP in a gloriously graceful manner. The harmonious layered vocals soar in the deliciously delicate frame work to which they have been set. At times almost Cocteau esc in thier feel but with an altogether individual and contemporary feel.

'Descartes Highlands' by Paul Thomas Saunders is a near faultless EP that can only go still further to enhance the growing reputation of this very fine, modest... "I don't have the skill set to consciously turn emotion into creativity, but regardless, while it may not be consistently autobiographical, I keep writing, hoping that unconsciously I can channel something visceral and real".. musician. I for one eagerly await his debut album.

Andrew Lockwood.

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