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serpentwithfeet soil Secretly Canadian / Tri-Angle

Described by Björk as “one of the most emotionally generous singers”, few artists in contemporary music are as special as serpentwithfeet. The New York-based, Baltimore-raised musician’s debut EP blisters featured stirring swells and impossible acrobatics of harmony. Released by leftfield label Tri Angle, it was an ostentatious introduction to serpentwithfeet’s world. But it still won’t prepare the listener for his debut album. soil. These tracks seem to march with a murderous menace, armoured and hulking, leaving The Haxan Cloak’s production on blisters seeming modest by comparison.

For soil, serpentwithfeet creates a baroque sound palette to match his intricate tales of love and loss. The track cherubim encapsulate this best, using the language of the church to celebrate physical love between men. “I get to devote my life to him,” he chants, elaborating: “I get to keep my mouth filled with you/ I love the taste of you”. On mourning song, serpentwithfeet is stalked by a monster. For fragrant, his voice pans and widens in the mix as the beat wheezes and stutters, its call and response layering tension and release.

serpentwithfeet is blessed with a staggering voice and a flair for writing intensely personal yet universal songs, overloaded with drama thanks to a penchant for occult imagery and the traditions of church music. There a few tracks here which feel like obvious singles, but with soil, serpentwithfeet creates a completely realised world, and it’s stunning.