Calm State

Calm State – Frolicsome EP review

Calm State is the name of a solo endeavour by Irish based artist Sebastian Florek, the style of which is perhaps best described as ethnic acoustic folk. Since 2011, the project has spawned three EPs, including last year’s La Naturaleza, whose single “Lullaby for the Dead” made the shortlist for the finals of the tenth International Acoustic Music Awards across the Atlantic.

The third and most recent of these compilations, Frolicsome, hit in June. It gets going with “Melody of Green, Pt. 1”, which serves as an ominous and exotic instrumental introduction. This is followed by the urgent, bracing riff and mellow melody of “Wind”. While it seems to exhibit a lighter edge at times, it remains mostly sombre and serious, featuring guitar work that’s consistently cool and cutting. It all eventually culminates in a fast and forceful finale.

“I Still Love You” is another foreboding number, made up of dire musical motifs and forlorn vocals. Its tormented tone means that it’s quite a mournful undertaking. The slow and serene saxophone of “Samba Fling” establishes a laid-back atmosphere that relaxes afterwards. That’s before vibrant vocals take over to resound across enthusiastic acoustic guitars during “Cows at Play”. It’s a short but stirring entry which conveys a lot of passion.

“Sorrento” is much lighter in tone than its predecessors, sailing off upon an optimistic riff ahead of an energetic melody. The vivid vocals penetrate deep, resulting in an easy and affecting anthem, the cheery tone of which is rather refreshing. “Wait Up!” arrives next via a playful opening that prefaces an impressively high-pitched harmony. Being neither overly serious nor lighthearted, it’s a placid piece that soothes as much as it stirs. “Melody of Green, Pt. 2” brings things full circle in its wake, feeling like a natural continuation of the first track and an appropriate end to the record as a whole.

Calm State has put together a simple and stripped down acoustic collection that bears an innocuous and accessible sound. Its exotic instrumentation rests fairly easy on the ears, but its greatest strength is undoubtedly the expressive and accomplished vocal work exhibited by its solemn serenades.