Having specialised in audio forensics at university, James Yuill’s understanding of sound is inherently scientific. His experience in analysing sound as criminal evidence, something which may sound worlds away from the method behind writing an album, has proved to have the perfect formula. In the lab, a fragment is catalysed by an idea, which reacts with a refrain, crystallising into the final product bringing about a change in state, a process which it seems James carried with him to the studio.
Thus, A Change In State, James’ new album, came about.
James is clever; there’s no doubting that, and no avoiding it either. Yet there’s something extremely grounded about A Change In State. Coming to life at the same time as James’ first child – at a time when he had actually intended to take a break from writing – A Change In State seems as though it came completely naturally; something that, whether aware or not, was bubbling up in James’ head.
And it feels personal, too. While he by no means needs to, seamlessly blending electro and folk, James makes no apologies for his erratic influences. Indeed, as he says of ‘Fire Breathing’: “I originally set out to write the most depressing acoustic song ever. Written from the perspective of a mother who once was the centre of her baby’s world, but now sits alone, by the phone, waiting for her child to call. For the better, I got side tracked and it turned into a bass heavy banger.”
These are tracks that take everything James loves, and everything he knows. From the pulsing danceability of ‘A Careless Anon,’ to the guitar-led folk serenity of ‘Hot Damn,’ A Change In State almost feels like a journey through James’ influences and experiences.
Closing the record with a shimmering sense of light and life, ‘Primal Yell’ marks the end of an album that, while perhaps mixing unlikely elements, is incredibly beautiful. A Change In State is the sign of an artist (and scientist) who knows exactly what he’s doing.
A Change In State is out on 28 July