When we first met Richard Keller’s solo project, Itchy Richie and the Burnin’ Sensations, they had just released the brilliant ‘Low, Slow, and Dark’, a thrilling exploration of inner workings of the human psyche. It was a release the brought to light four unique and wonderfully rustic tracks, with each one shining as an unyielding blend of the acoustic and digital worlds. Now, only a few months after that release, the Burning’ Sensations are back in full force, bringing to the fore three more tracks of dizzying guitar-driven rock.
Viewed as either a counterpoint or a continuation of ‘Low, Slow, and Dark’, the new release continues to explore more electronic leanings, channelling upbeat and dance-infused sounds that work to lighten Keller’s darker moments. Another intricate piece, ‘Vague Faith’ was recorded at Studio Idle Idol, Fort Worth, a step up from the dining room aesthetic of his last release, and the improved quality have done wonders for his new direction.
Opening with ‘Live For The Moment’, Keller wastes no time in bringing about his new direction, layering his typically deep vocals with atypical funk sounds. A kaleidoscopic weave of delicate backing vocals from Aimie Lovett Sommer, acoustic guitar, and joyous beats, the melody blends with Keller’s melancholy lyrics to create a wonderfully engaging and off-beat pop piece. The title track blossoms with a sense of immediacy and nostalgia, breaking with waves of old school electronica dragged straight from the roaring ’80s. It’s soaked in reverb and modulated sounds, bringing to mind instant comparisons with the vibrant sounds of New Order and Depeche Mode.
In a final dance-infused hurrah, ‘Meditations’ surfaces, bringing a dark, psychedelic sound that rallies around a central and constrained string of synth tones. Keller’s vocals ebb and flow throughout, drifting between bold statements and chanted mantras that hold you transfixed, while all around digital atmospherics abound.
It’s a bold move, to transform your sound to completely, and while you can definitely hear traces of ‘Slow, Low, and Dark’, there are moments within ‘Vague Faith’ where you have to double-check you’re still listening to the same artist at work. Arguably less impactful than his previous release, but ultimately just as enchanting, ‘Vague Faith’ showcases a brave new side of Itchy Richie and the Burnin' Sensations, and while there is a subtle sense that Keller might still be finding his feet in the dance world, you have to celebrate his drive.
You can stream ‘Vague Faith’ on Spotify above, or head to Itchy Richie and the Burnin' Sensations’ Bandcamp page to grab your own download of the release.
Connect with Itchy Richie and the Burnin' Sensations,