CHUCKLE is the first solo release by Leisha Thomas as Alpha Maid on the C.A.N.V.A.S. label, following a contribution to the recent Apocope compilation LP. The signature Alpha Maid genre prevails—the sincere, strong vocal style, aligned with a UK indignant and iconoclastic artistic lineage, set against dredging, grungy instrumentals reminiscent of North American open plains or urban sprawl. As if desert rock had occurred in mundane and claustrophobic South London rather than the Southern States. Alpha Maid observes and reflects on an urban, smoggy, UK surrounding, although appears to drive through it on an open interstate highway in a really wide car.
Alpha Maid's vocals vacillate between sometimes candid, close and unclouded, then drifting towards fragmentary, cutting and pasting in the manner of unstable media or limited bandwidth.
Opening with a quote—found footage from broadcasted media—‘i knew the figures’, pointing to a setting of British media harassment and scrutiny, WOWOWOW conveys amazement and disbelief, faced with the bare and flagrant injustices of the time and place. Vocals are swallowed by the cavernous reverberation, while slow paced stoner rock-like drifting instrumentals amble underneath.
CHUCKLE follows Alpha Maid's debut EP Spy, released via the ever-transforming collective and label CURL, of which Alpha Maid is a member, alongside the founders Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May. Whilst Spy expressed revulsion in the face of creeping surveillance and the increasingly concealed and deceptive nature of power, CHUCKLE embodies the spirit of internal disorientation and realisations, exacerbated by a backdrop of social crises and injustices reaching levels beyond our grasp or comprehension.
Electronic interventions, eclectic instrumentation and found footage intersperse Alpha Maid's trademark sound. Brief interludes reminiscent of Scandinavian metal themes, undistorted but purveying doom—opening MILD WEATHER and closing NEWLY WOKE & THOUGHT PROVOKED—contribute to the creation of an atmosphere of eerie dread. Within that, there is regular respite to be found—NEWLY WOKE & THOUGHT PROVOKED feels light, rural, nearly folk, delivered with clarity of mind and of pace amongst the otherwise smoggy and moody overlying theme of the EP. The title of the track, however points to a familiar context of confusion amongst cosmopolitan and globalised socio-political contagion. NEWLY WOKE & THOUGHT PROVOKED, in harmony with the nature of the whole release, is fresh, melodically simple, optimistic and yet suspended within a murky atmosphere of cataclysm and wonder.
Music by Leisha Thomas
Trumpet on 'MILD WEATHER' and 'NEWLY WOKE & THOUGHT PROVOKED' performed by Jovis Lane
Flute on 'DOGGY' performed by Niazy Hazeldine
Drums for 'SUM1' recorded by Ben Vince at Roundhouse, February 2020