UK Lo-Fi Band Cult Film Drop Dreamy Debut EP
Born out of Chapman Lee’s student bedroom, UK lo-fi project Cult Film has carefully worked out exactly how to put music to emotion. On his debut EP, Mona, released just yesterday on Devil Town Tapes, Chapman and friends Ali Chester and Isaac Macpherson deliver four impossibly dreamy tracks that live in black and white.
Mona is fleeting — there are only four itty-bitty tracks that come and go quick in the grand scheme of things, though they laze and float long enough that it feels like we get to sit with them for a while. Thank god. We need the catharsis of just existing with Mona. These are soul-deep songs, the kind that hum inside your chest like an electrical current, so to listen is to grieve and to think and to dream.
The EP opens with “Bored To Death,” our first inclination that Mona might brim with fuzzy alt-rock arrangements, though that thought is mostly slashed once we creep further into the record. Steady punches of percussion power the track, accompanied by Chapman’s soft voice carrying on tendrils of soundwaves like wind while flavorful rhythms offer moments of searing garage-rock dexterity. On “Fantasies,” things kick off with a promising rage-fueled arrangement suggesting once again that Cult Film could take a howling, punchy approach, though it’s clearer now that they live in limbo between the rock and the resistance. It’s a total throwback to the wistful 90s films of our youth and the tender soundtracks that accompanied them: the vocals are so gorgeous when they deliver line after line of sincere pleas (“Please don’t leave me alone here,” Chapman wails), the drums keep a steady pace, and there’s a sweet melody at war with the edge.
The halfway point of Mona finds its title track, which acted as the EP’s lead single and has since garnered major love from listeners. “Mona” is built on a simple acoustic strum before the composition fills out to accommodate woozy blooming rhythms that bow out every once in a while for tender reflection before returning, a tug-of-war between a kind of gut-punch disquietude and its dynamic antithesis. It’s beautiful. It hurts. Mona ends with “Your Thing,” slithering through a fuzzy lo-fi arrangement that finds Chapman delivering his most sentimental, simplified lines yet, hidden in the fog of rich guitar riffs.
On Mona, Cult Film manage to craft four dizzying slow-burns lost in the dust they kick up. Even at their most vibrant points — pulsing percussion or searing rhythm lines — they are misty and aching and rife with the kind of earnest reflection you’d have to dig to your core to pull out. Cult Film have made something so special with Mona. They should be proud.
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Featured photo of Cult Film by Bella Alexandrova