Most modern artforms have become an arms race to produce something unique, something unlike anything ever made, everyone is competing to make the newest, biggest, and brightest. This is truer than ever with music. Everyone dreams of making their own sound and hitting the world stage with it, blowing up and getting Known. But while everyone chases that dream, few ever achieve something genuinely and undeniably Unique.
Enter Soularflair, the alias of Adam Mannering, an independent artist from Melbourne Australia. Adam describes his sound as genreless, completely free of limitations. His goal when creating music is not necessarily to defy genre however, but his interest is solely in making music that sounds good to him, which often leads to creating elaborate avant garde tracks that chaotically fuse multiple genres, an interesting reflection on what is presumably an interesting man.
If you were forced to try and describe his music, not a simple feat this writer professes, you might use words like industrial, overwhelming, intense, chaotic, transcendent, or maybe posthuman. And none of those are wrong, but they don’t really capture the feelings of his music accurately. Calling it genre bending or genre defying isn’t inaccurate either, but it’s more that Adam takes several genres that inspire and interest him and take the pieces he wants for a given song and mixes them together.
Let’s get up and close with Adam’s work. We’ll start with something a little familiar before we dive into the deep end though. If you’ve been paying any attention to social media or the popular shows of the last two years you’ve heard of Westworld. The Soularflair remix of Ramin Djawadi’s theme for the Westworld TV show takes something already beautiful, a subtle and moving orchestral theme, restitches it, attaches bolts to the neck and electrifies it, bringing it to life.
The original theme was beautiful, but there was something missing. It lacked a beating heart. Soularflair has taken something dead, opened it up, added a gentle but compelling beat, a subtle electronic influence with minor vocal samples and bass like the beating heart of something once dead but now forced brutally into the sunlight. Alive, extended and improved.
Now that you’ve had a taste, let’s dive deeper. Don’t blink, feel the pull, and follow me into the hypnotic destruction that is Strange Attractor. With visuals that at first seem to be the typical psychedelics we’ve all seen before but take that colourful mindscape and add some deceptively simple deviations that change the tone completely, Strange Attractor is an aptly named song that sucks you in, compels you to keep watching. The jerks and cuts in the visuals emphasize the feeling of being pulled in, devoured almost.
This song is composed of subtle panic and high-pitched electronic warbling, balanced by carefully designed static and a thumping irregular beat. Every beat feels like you’re being sucked in further, and the visuals augment this feeling exquisitely. You’re staring into the maw of something beyond your understanding, transfixed, held captive by its crooning siren song. Then suddenly silence, the visuals dissolve into black, and you’re back to reality, left with a vague feeling of loss and wonder.
After that close encounter, lets change gears a bit and move down to something less mind flaying and a little more human. Soularflair’s What Fresh Hell. The music video for What Fresh Hell features more abstract visuals, but these are totally different. Strange Attractor was cosmic and inhuman, whereas this is constructed from pieces of things that seem familiar. A mosaic of symbols and objects that resemble humanity and scientific research, something unique to humans. Watching this video one finds themselves searching for meaning, grasping at shapes that seem familiar, and sliding off cold metal and sheer black stone carved intricately by something long dead.
The music is a mixture of acoustic and electric noises, everything familiar in object sound, but not in behaviour. The drums and cymbals bring a feeling of ancient percussive dread, signalling doom. The electric guitar is both living and dead, reanimated by unknown forces and grinding at your soul, wailing at you from above like an angel wreathed in black flame. The bass clutches at you from below, dragging you down, down, down, into the darkness… This song is looking into the abyss and feeling your breath freeze as something returns your gaze.
Soularflair is an incredible artist. We throw around a lot of words like incredible and amazing, trying to emphasize meaning and make something stick. But I cannot emphasize enough that my praise is in no way exaggerated. Adam Mannering has unmatched skill at creating worlds with sound and image. A fantastic example of show not tell, Adam takes us on a journey through worlds beyond our grasp by harnessing and manipulating our emotions and imagination. He is more than deserving of your time.
Adam produces all his own music videos, and is available to be commissioned for music videos for your music or band, more info can be found on his personal website in the Videos tab.
You can find the rest of his music online, on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, and his various personal sites and social media. Much of his work is available for free, so if you don’t feel like paying for an album, maybe just throw him a dollar or two or buy him a cup of coffee through the donations page on his website. Help him keep making the music he’s passionate about. I also personally recommend you check out his tracks Exhale and Protoculled, both on his Youtube page.