reviewed by Elysse Cloma
sphaero’s music is as elusive as their social media profiles. My only lead on sphaero (Ross Taylor) is that they are a Vancouver-based singer-songwriter, while any biographical information about them remains unknown. With 3 followers on Soundcloud and equally few views on their YouTube channel, sphaero’s release My Tiny World is especially nascent and mysterious.
Listening to My Tiny World is like snooping in a diary or stumbling upon a stranger’s old love letter in between the pages of a used book. With poetic lyrics directed towards an ambiguous “you”, sphaero allows us to be involved in processing their feelings. The lyrics are often vague and simplistic in style, but they are powerful, raw, and emotional. Songs like “frosty reflections” and “forest at night” are tinted with an air of melancholy about leaving, moving, or abandonment. Generously scattered with the experiences of visible sight, the songs on My Tiny World make reference to nature, as well as shades, hues, darks, or lights. Lyrically, My Tiny World has been painted by sphaero to move us.
My Tiny World is coloured with lyrical imagery, and each song has been released with its own digital collage on sphaero’s Soundcloud page. The song “frosty reflections” is accompanied by a tessellation of muted gray and blue chevrons; the visuals for “forest at night” consist of a geometric rendering of a tree using green triangles set against a black background. sphaero sets the mood of the music through quaint visual art, creating tiny worlds for us to experience the music within.
With minimal instrumentation and effects, sphaero’s music is typically the combination of solo falsetto vocals flowing with a lonely guitar or piano. For the most part, the dynamics are soft. On the song “colour”, sphaero delivers tense and fragile vocal performances, singing eerie and unconventional melodies that trail off into the distance, similar to those of Thom Yorke or Patrick Watson. Comparisons to Watson can be drawn on more folk-inspired tunes such as “plastic fear”; sphaero channels Yorke’s style on “bowl of plastic fruit”, especially towards the end of the song, which slowly builds from quiet guitar strumming.
The song “red house” sounds like lo-fi post-rock tune that has been stripped of its complex instrumentals. “Red House” has a strong bridge, building into what would likely be an epic instrumental climax if played by a full band. The emptiness of sphaero’s music is apparent in moments such as the bridge of “red house” or “plastic fear” but is in no way lacking.
While the lonely and demure sphaero remains in obscurity, My Tiny World takes hold of our imagination. In some ways, being less attuned to who sphaero is prevents us from projecting our idea of them separate from their art. Nevertheless, sphaero leaves us with traces of themselves with their contemplative album My Tiny World.
Top Tracks: “red house”; “colour”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)