For a true taste of the scope of Sam Eastgate’s talent, his lyrical themes and moods around isolation, LA Priest’s “What Moves” is a perfect place to begin.
Stream: “What Moves” – LA Priest
Sam Eastgate’s career has already seen many twists and curveballs. From his involvement in cult band Late Of The Pier (who recorded one album to critical acclaim and then split), to his collaboration with Connan Mockasin in Soft Hair, he has given the world a lot to think over with the ground he’s covered so far. To claim a lineage through the goth/nu-rave sounds of the late 00s and work with guitar-pop princes is a unique honour for Eastgate, and his already fascinating wealth of output.
When he’s not creating legendary albums or courting indie heroes, he’s doing some stellar work in his solo capacity. This brings us to “What Moves,” the latest single from LA Priest, Eastgate’s current project. Taken from GENE, the second LA Priest album (released June 5, 2020 via Domino Recordings), this song explores a commercial sound, extending further the reach of Eastgate’s selection of genres.
“What moves you to act the way you are?
What moves you to fall into their arms?
What moves you to wish each other harm?”
These words are the key hook in “What Moves.” Why do people hurt the ones they love? Eastgate’s words come from a position of pain, as he examines deep wounds from a troubled stage in his life. It initially sounds like he’s imploring answers from someone else, perhaps an ex or lost friend. It’d be tempting to make that conclusion, but when you take into account the rich vein of isolationism running through LA Priest’s output, it’s clear that he’s talking to himself.
GENE is named after a machine Eastgate made himself, which he used on most of the album. On “What Moves,” it’s the light electronic beats which his digital friend contributes. Music is a solitary process for Eastgate, echoing the themes throughout his LA Priest output. His studio set-up in California provided the setting for most of the work on GENE. America’s sunny west coast is a world away from his humble (but equally beautiful) south Wales homeland. There you will also find one of Eastgate’s hideaways, a shed in which he has regularly performed lockdown concerts during recent months. Consider this when listening to “What Moves”: It’s Eastgate asking questions of himself.
“Can’t take it anymore
Take it or leave it
I just can’t let it go
But I know where I came from
But I don’t know where I’m gonna go
Were they none?”
“What Moves” embodies a lot of the electro-funk quirkiness LA Priest expresses. Eastgate’s voice, though heavily changed through vocal effects, is strikingly familiar. He draws on such lofty gods as Thom Yorke and Prince for inspiration, but also to his contemporaries – Yeasayer’s Chris Keating would certainly appreciate some of the stylistic flourishes in Eastgate’s delivery. Swinging from impassioned harmonising to breathy whispering and back again across the landscape of “What Moves,” Eastgate shows his talent for singing with a strong dynamic range. Through all the post-production signal noise it’s still apparent that he’s able to sing on a level with any vocalist you could care to mention. His layered and chopped-up takes make his voice sound post-human – Another way of distancing himself from the outside world.
“What Moves” is teeming with pleasing instrumental flicks and twiddlings. The simple beat from GENE underpins everything else, and alongside the muffled wandering bassline, gives a good backdrop to the comings and goings of Eastgate’s vast arsenal of instruments. The groove-laden guitar solo near the end of “What Moves” is infectiously easy to get into, leading the song into its understated, elegant finish. With the wobbly pitch-shifting on Eastgate’s voice, it’s an odd, almost unsettling sound palate.
While the rest of the album contains some far more abstract pieces, “What Moves” shows the world what a LA Priest single can achieve. All the elements are hewn together for an alternative take on the pop sensibilities of Eastgate’s musical heroes. At its heart, What Moves begs for a head-nodding re-spin, its simplicity in execution hides a more complex set of sounds, which are LA Priest’s usual calling card.
For a true taste of the scope of Eastgate’s talent, his lyrical themes and moods around isolation, “What Moves” is a perfect place to begin. An ambivalent feel pervades throughout this piece, with the saddened words contrasting the song’s easy melodies and tight grooves. The dancefloor may be filled by the beat, but keen listeners will hear the deeper meaning in this song, and realise that this isn’t just a feel-good disco track.
Stream: “What Moves” – LA Priest
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© Isaac Eastgate
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