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Just: Deep Cycles

A long known and well respected name in the Dutch music world, the booker of artists and founder of Fabchannel - Concerts Online, Justin Kniest has taken the brave jump from the background into the spotlight under the name Just. Deep Cycles is his debut album, and with a strong core of musicians around him, Just is keen to take us on journeys through time, his music, to me, being a strong hybrid of the current melancholy ‘progressive’ resurgence and an 80s electro-pop sheen - albeit undoubtedly at the more downbeat end of that spectrum, with Talk Talk or the less commercial aspects of Tears For Fears strong touching points.

Even with him providing a lot of the guitars and bass on show, it’s arguably Just’s vocals that make the strongest mark here, with his easy, unforced style proving a real strength in a set of songs that are intentionally low on flash or gimmicks. However, the mainly slow, steady tempos do revolve around some really tight constructions and for music that can at first glance feel a little uneventful, when you really give this album some time, its gloomy charms offer up some interesting rewards. There are also a surprising amount of hooks and with the correct exposure, there are moments on this album - “Down The River” and its clever little keyboard motifs and memorable chorus, or “Dark Days”, which grows into a hugely engaging swirl of emotions - that could find some real mainstream success.

That said, the journey across the 8 tracks laid out here can often feel a little too singular in focus and while none of the songs could be flagged up for letting the side down, taken from the start to finish, I do find the overall experience to be a little lacking in variance. However, running below 40 minutes, Deep Cycles is not an album that outstays its welcome and as such the dark atmosphere never quite becomes too much. In truth, however, I can’t say this will be a collection of songs I’ll come back to and visit on a regular basis, but there’s still a lot here to enjoy.

Track Listing
1. Dark Days
2. Walk Slow Smile More
3. Into The Fire
4. Down The River
5. Feels Like Home
6. Every Little Fear
7. Desperate Game
8. Eye Of The Storm

Added: January 28th 2023
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Just online
Hits: 364
Language: english

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Just: Deep Cycles
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2023-01-28 16:46:38
My Score:

Just (aka Justin Kniest) has been involved with the Dutch music scene for many years, as a music programmer and promotor, most notably as founder of Born in 1969, Kniest has also appeared on the latest Held By Trees album titled Solace. That album has a Talk Talk connection and it continues here with Kniest’s debut album Deep Cycles, with album art by James Marsh, who has created some of Talk Talk’s wonderful cover art.

Deep Cycles is an album immense depth and feeling, a true art rock endeavor that showcases Kniest’s classy arrangements, superb vocals, and hidden intricacies. Just listen to the opening track “Dark Days” for a general feel of what Deep Cycles is trying to accomplish. A hollowed out drum tone and slow almost brooding organ flows ever so gently, met with Kniest’s pleasant vocals and slowly evolving melodies, a song steeped in sadness. Gently plucked acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals make “Walk Slow Smile More” a fine example of singer/songwriter perfection, while “Into The Fire” has a darker mood washed with moody electronics and rhythmic guitars.

The incredibly poignant, melancholic ballad “Down The River” reveals itself in the lyrics:

We felt like brothers
Stared into the flames
We yelled and shivered
As we stormed into the waves
We thought we’d never change, but

Time washed away our names
The water moves so slow
Till we’re caught by the undertow

The thoughtful electric guitar work is a real treat.

Sumptuous bass and fine guitar work highlights the catchy melancholia of “Feels Like Home” before “Eye Of The Storm” ends the album with a delicious slice of art rock showcasing more wonderful guitar textures.

The album’s subtle nature reminded me somewhat of Roxy Music’s Avalon. Not that they sound alike, but both reveal their magic ever so slowly, very much a grower in that respect. I also think bands like Talk Talk and Tears For Fears are valid reference points. If this sounds appealing, I urge you to explore Deep Cycles for yourself. I am finding it quite addictive.

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