by Jordi Juan Iveson
Ananas are an experimental Lo-fi Neo Soul trio from Swansea. I am featuring their EP as they’re a testament to student musicians at Swansea. The group consists of Dom who raps, plays the guitar, keyboard, synths and 808s, Ophelia who supplies vocals and the keyboard and Joe who’s in charge of the percussion. All the group members are talented multi-instrumentalists and their array of influences are experimented with to create a fresh and vibrant sound. They are influenced by artists such as Kali Uchis, Chance the Rapper, Alt J and Mungo’s Hi Fi with a keen interest in experimental Lo-fi, as well as space and sampling.
Ophelia and Dom are a couple who met at Swansea University, where she studied English Literature and he’s working to become a doctor. Joe studied popular music at Falmouth, however they met whilst working in Swansea and soon developed a close friendship. The trio have been together since 2015, first as part of a larger brass band called Bareknuckle Beatbox and more recently as Ananas. The group fluidly create their music and each member contributes their own style to create an amalgamation of sounds, which mesh together like water. The band are constantly gigging and have recently done a string of event in Swansea and the surrounding area to promote their new EP, Cosmosus.
The intro to the EP perfectly presents the ideas explored within. A primordial bubbling transforms into a noise resembling a rhythmic industrial engine. The voice sampled sets the psychedelic scene found within all the songs.
Although Multiverse is the second track on the EP, the beat follows straight from the intro and they could be interpreted as one. Ophelia’s soft vocals are interlayered with the instrumental from the onset to give that added depth. The group’s philosophy is profoundly expressed in the lyrics. Absolute truth isn’t as important as being able to enjoy exploring questions and knowing there might not be an answer. Dom’s poetical recital showcases the groups originality, dreamily accompanied by the lo-fi instrumental and Ophelia’s vocals. Dom’s verse leaves you longing for more and a second one would have pleased me greatly.
Bicycling once again adds a sonically very enjoyable psychedelic theme in the album. The feel-good vibe of the song melancholically transports me back to happier summer days, enjoying life with friends. As the seasons are changing this album comes at the perfect time and brings with it the same special energy of spring. The lyrics invite the listener to relax and to live life freely and courageously. It questions the values and teachings of the current system and regrets the important information, which isn’t taught.
Troublin’, the final song on the EP, is the one that features Ophelia’s singing the most. Her voice is refreshing and original and adds its own personality in a world filled with female voices. Her stylistic inspirations are reflected in her music. The synths used in this song bring the instrumental to life, adding a metallic feel to the organic vocals. Dom adds some backing vocals to echo Ophelia’s and turning the focus on her for this final song displays the groups versatility and opens up a world of endless possibilities and combinations.
Overall, the EP is an explosion of creativity which hits every note. The connection between Dom and Ophelia can be felt throughout as it produces an incredible synchronisation between her magical neo soul vocals and his bespoke rapping style. With all three members being multi-instrumentalists, the depth and layers of this album are felt throughout making the music increasingly thought-provoking and pleasurable. Having seen what the group are capable of, the three songs leave a bitter-sweet taste as you become addicted to the sound and want to indulge in more material. Overall, there are few faults to be found and plenty of enjoyment to be extracted from the album. Thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes good music.
Find them on Bandcamp