On his first project, Wave Noir is already an artist with a very distinct identity. The anti.net rapper gets introspective on seven beautifully nocturnal tracks, each of which contributes equally to the nostalgia-driven, lockdown-inspired narrative.
Wave has been on my radar for a while now, his guest appearance on John Alone’s ‘Kid Rap’ being the first time that I bore witness to his talents. Wave and John go 3/3 on Eclipse’s ‘Etro’s Kin’, but more on that later. On the aptly titled opener ‘Lockdown’, Wave announces that ‘I keep it slow, steady, I only go when I’m ready’, a mindset that in 2020 was key for surviving the mental challenges ahead. A good portion of this project was apparently recorded in 2020, as referenced by ‘Lockdown’, in which Wave also admits that he’s ‘Been locked up in my mind so long, every day I been facing my fears’. The song references past events that were clearly weighing heavily on his mind in this period, and while the tone of the song is undeniably dark it is refreshing to see him conclude the song on a relatively positive note: ‘I try my best to never fold, until they bring my brother home. Rest up and get better, cos bro we’re due to hit the road’. The creeping menace in TM JoJo’s production adds to the paranoia-fueled vibe of the track, which serves as a perfect beginning to such an emotionally-charged project.
‘Lockdown Pt. 2’ takes on a totally different tone. Over looped R&B samples and crunchy drums, the rapper speaks in length about the many troubles in his life. The song is labeled ‘Honesty Freestyle’ for a reason, Wave really put his heart on his sleeve here with a slew of confessional bars. He begins the song with ‘Where to even start, heavy in my head and it’s been heavy in my heart’, and the rest follows suit with some incredibly raw lyrical moments: ‘But how you supposed to try your best when you lost your spark?’, ‘It felt like every time I tried to go provide, I just lost my sense of self in another’s eyes’. This song seems to reference a difficult romance, a theme that carries throughout the project and evolves at multiple points throughout its tracklist. One such point is ‘Luv + Hate’, which speaks for itself in its pain-fueled lyrics. It’s a classic anthem for the lovesick, similar to this year’s ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ but more focused on pros and cons of experiencing love and the mistakes that we make in doing so.
Other songs are more generally focused on feelings of loneliness and isolation, ‘Atlantis ’85’ being the best example. ‘I seen days go by, losing track of time, that’s from the problems in my mind. Feeling under watchful eye, best remember boys don’t cry. It’s like we looked a year ahead and now it’s 1985’ is a genius chorus that perfectly encapsulates what it’s been like to live in the UK in the 2020’s. Whether this song is intended as direct political commentary or not, it’s a brilliant way of incorporating general feelings of frustration that everyone can relate to into Wave’s very personal story. He comments on being fed up with people asking him if he’s ‘ok’, and decides that ‘it’s easier to pretend’. In a year as universally miserable as 2020, this was all anyone could do to cope. That’s not to diminish the importance of Wave’s personal journey though, his struggles with mental health are well documented on Eclipse and are a very important part of understanding his reasons for creating this project.
Back to ‘Etro’s Kin’. The longest and most fully-realised song of Eclipse’s septet, Skrrgeon’s trap beat is essential to its success. The regal trappings that adorn the production are outstanding, creating some of Eclipse’s best opportunities for lyrical excellence. ‘Deep down I know that there’s undying hope that all is well, accelerate my limits not confined to mortal shell. From highest highs and darkest depths I’ve heard the chimes of bells, I’ll wait 100 years to make it out this rainy spell’ is just one example of Wave’s astounding skill with the pen on a track absolutely full of it. John Alone’s contributions appear in the form of backing vocals, adding a layer of serenity beneath some of Wave’s hardest, most determined raps. These two work enormously well as a duo, and I’m eager for them to release more music together.
The last song is arguably the most important. The only self-produced track on Eclipse, ‘Before I Leave (Last Train Home)’ is a morose finale that touches upon the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbye to someone you care about while also feeling the distance between you growing. I won’t quote this one, because it deserves to be experienced in its entirety. That fact that the song ends with a question feels appropriate when considering the feelings of indecision that crop up in Wave’s writing throughout the project and in particular on this track, which ends so ambiguously that this story could really end either way. I suppose only those closest to him will know the answer, the rest of us can only view this is an astonishingly well-crafted closing track to a stunning debut well deserving of any and all praise that comes its way.
Listen to the album below.
Follow Wave on Twitter.
– Chris (@108seraph)