Brian Eno Says You Need to Listen to Sylas, and so Do We
“Hollow,” the debut track from new London duo Sylas, is anything but.
I first heard this song by Sylas back in June. Full disclosure: I was invited to a listening of this mysterious young new duo's music at Brian Eno's personal studio in London with a bunch of other press. Back then, I remember hitting play on the Soundcloud that came with the invite and wondering why on earth anyone thought a new song this obviously good would need Eno's backing to get coverage.
But it was an invite to Brian Eno's personal studio, and I'm not an idiot, so obviously I went. Between perusing Eno's bookshelves and trying to subtly take a selfie with his Grammies, I had the chance to listen on headphones to more new material from Sylas. And I heard stuff that's even better than the heartbreaking track in the player below. "What's the deal with this Sylas guy, Brian?" I asked Eno as he popped the cap off a beer for me (I'm paraphrasing, but this really happened). Unable to use quite enough hyperbole to express how excited he was about these two, he explained to me that Sylas are two young guys, both producers and vocalists, who he met a few years ago when one came to his singing group. "This man," Eno said, beaming as he led me over to one of them, "has the most beautiful voice."
After recognizing their talents, Eno kept tabs on and spent time working with the two, but the sound they've come up with is totally separate. Gloomy, experimental electronic pop that's unmistakably London, "Hollow" is one of my favorite pieces of new music I've been sent this year. It's all about the way that opening churn goes straight for the gut, the way the beat chokes and snaps during that indecisive wait on me/don't wait on me refrain, the way that angelic voice zooms in and out of view over the chaos. I'd listen to anything if Brian Eno told me to listen to it, but I probably wouldn't listen to a track as many times as I've listened to "Hollow" unless it was as brilliant a debut as it clearly is.