Empathy Test are two lifelong friends - singer and songwriter Isaac Howlett, and digital composer Adam Relf. United by a love of Science Fiction, together they’ve created an EP of mesmerising and immaculate synth pop, where everything is in its right place. It’s layered without ever feeling dense; precise without ever feeling clinical.
On the opening and title track, Losing Touch, a synth hums gently in the background from start to finish, wrapping warm signs of life around a simple pulsating bass and lyrics of isolation and non-communication. It’s a beautiful contest between hopeful and bleak, with (call me optimistic if you want) the good winning out in the end - “when you’re feeling alone , and you’re colder than stone, call me you know (it’s always been you)”.
It’s followed by Kirrilee, the EP’s undoubted highlight where each verse brings some new texture and flavour. It’s like having a lead guitarist with a short attention span, except it’s wonderful and not horrible like that would be. Listen closely, and you can hear all the little textures pop in and out, all making perfect sense, never feeling cluttered. “We’ve only a short while here to be ourselves, we’re only a short while here so just be yourself now Kirrilee”, Howlett sings: again, life and warmth keep any darkness at bay.
It’s more of the same from the remaining two tracks (and I mean that in an entirely positive way) Last Night on Earth and Where I Find Myself. The first features a sublime moment where the music falls off a cliff for the title lyric, while the closing track sees the EP’s darkest moments (opening line: “If it wasn’t for the loneliness I could bear the solitude”) but the beautiful simplicity in the repetition of the song’s title and the subtle shift to “simply where I find myself now”, where those first and last words seem oh so important, give the song a non-nihilistic acceptance of fate.
Empathy Test are working on a second EP right now (in the vague time-frame sense, that is) - fingers crossed that its every bit as good as their first.
Check out the band’s web site for more: https://www.empathytestmusic.com/
Follow Empathy Test on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/empathytest