Album of the Week 22-26 June
Photay – Waking Hours [Mexican Summer] Worldwide FM’s album of the week is Photay‘s ‘Waking Hours‘ out on Mexican Summer, chosen by Morning Mari*! ‘Waking Hours ’is rooted in the chaos of modern life, and specifically our incessant need to stay busy, keep up with everything and never stop creating. Living this way can be…
Photay – Waking Hours [Mexican Summer]
‘Waking Hours ’is rooted in the chaos of modern life, and specifically our incessant need to stay busy, keep up with everything and never stop creating. Living this way can be an exhausting prospect, and it’s what sparked Shornstein’s search for stillness in the first place. On a basic level, the LP is about finding room to occasionally pause and take a breath, but escapism isn’t the end goal here. Shornstein is interested in cultivating the mental headspace to question our hectic status quo and simply ask if there’s a better way to do things. Musically, it’s the most personal and open-minded thing he’s ever created, a genre-agnostic effort that impressively builds upon his electronic chops while simultaneously venturing into pop territory and putting his own vocals centre stage.
Fast-forward to present day and the current pandemic crisis, a vast majority of us have been forced to do just that. Most of our busy lives have been put on hold, forcing us into uninvited stillness. Does this shift our priorities? Our consumption? Does it change the way we think about our lives? How we spend our time … our waking hours?
This record navigates through the times we live in. A response to cultural pressures and social norms. In these controversial times, I am asking questions and creating lyrical reminders. The lyrics are a daily meditation. Sentiments to revisit over and over again as our lives ebb and flow.
This album is about time, stillness and peace within.”
– Evan Shornstein / Photay
Pondering these ideas required stillness, something that’s hard for anyone to come by, and doubly so in New York City. Shornstein hoarded it as best he could, whether he was losing himself in the studio or stealing a few quiet moments at home. The music is still largely electronic, but it follows paths that not even Shornstein expected to take. “When I was writing, I was listening to tons of ambient and club music,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘Where is this pop-leaning stuff coming from?’ Singing felt like a new thrill, the next big step outside my comfort zone.”
Part of that process also involved inviting more collaborators into his world, as Waking Hours includes guest appearances from Carlos Niño, Michael Lovett (Metronomy) and Gambian kora player Salieu Suso, plus backing vocals from Felicia Douglass and Kristin Slipp. The album also includes an expanded range of instrumentation; aside from the Buchla Music Easel, there’s also live guitar, acoustic piano, and of course, Shornstein’s own live drumming (he’s been playing since elementary school).
Shornstein sees Waking Hours as his most personal effort to date, but it’s by no means an insular album, literally or figuratively. The expanded range and cast of contributors has only strengthened his vision, and even though the album found Shornstein carving out his own corner for quiet reflection, he’s also made that corner big enough that everyone can join him for a mental breather.
1. Existential Celebration
2. Warmth in the Coldest Acre
3. Is It Right?
4. Fanfare for 7.83 Hz
5. Change in Real Time
6. The People
7. Rhythm Research
10. A Beautiful Silence Prevails