Musician and Alchemist St. Sol’s aqueous and cathartic EP ‘Amphibian’
Artblog contributor Corey Qureshi delivers a thoughtful and heartfelt review of musician St. Sol's EP 'Amphibian', followed by a short Q&A with the artist themselves. They talk about identity, alchemy, personal transformation, and more-- this is a great read and dialogue between two introspective creatives. We think you'll love it as much as we do.

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Purple tinted picture of a hand with animal print on it covered by a darker magenta square that says "Amphibian" in handwriting and other words that are cut off by the box.
Cover Art, Amphibian (EP), St. Sol. Courtesy of the artist.

When I’m anxious over the unchangeable nature of moments in life, I think of water. Like life, its flow doesn’t stop for much, only very dramatic things. I tell myself it’ll be alright, no matter the issue. Even though problems aren’t always resolved, these liquid check-ins keep me hydrated and emotionally balanced when it’s needed.

In ways simultaneously unrestrained and calming, the Amphibian EP by St. Sol submerges listeners in its emotional tides. From the opening drone of its intro to the project’s close, synthesizers ooze along in layered, ambient streams. The currents of these streams switch up quick — from soothing swirls of sound, to steady churnings, to cacophonous releases. An example of this could be the bassy “Watch Me”, which unfurls its opening filtered bubbles of percussion into a low-aend, meditative swim that gradually reaches a noisy peak. Sol croons above melodic glitches and deep waves of bass about being seen and its consequences in our digital, visual-heavy culture.

Lyrically, Amphibian reflects on the self and where one can fit comfortably in life, in spite of all its stresses. Vocally, Amphibian‘s gloominess takes the lead via St. Sol’s deep, morose singing that weaves in and out of harmony with intention. It rarely feels like they’re singing to a beat; Instead, currents of sound circle their voice. No matter how busy the percussion (or noises turned beats) gets, it never really takes center stage. Generated sounds make you wonder what you’re even hearing, and their layering makes for a somewhat dissonant, mysterious, and emotionally disorienting listening experience.

The aquatic maze that is Amphibian drew me back in multiple times to find something I couldn’t and still can’t quite put my finger on. To better get an idea of these audial art works, I reached out and was lucky to talk with the artist.

St. Sol standing with their hand on their head in the night.
St. Sol. Courtesy Georgia Wescott (@georgia.jpg)

Corey Qureshi: Who are you, and who is St. Sol in relation to that?
St. Sol: I’m Oliver. I’m originally from North Carolina, but currently based in Philly. I’m black, queer, and non binary, and I am an alchemist. St. Sol is my final form, a sort of homunculus. It’s the name I’ve given to deify my creative practice. I still find it hard to describe-Its not an alter ego thing, it’s more spiritual.

CQ: What headspace were you in while making Amphibian??
SS: A very depressed one honestly! Most of Amphibian is an escalated pity party. I was using this music to deal with these huge feelings of isolation, depression, and disconnection. It’s all about confronting the worst of it and saying “Okay like it or not these feelings are here, how can I let myself feel them in this extreme way so that I can move on from them?”. It was an intensely emotional process.

CQ: Who / What are some influences, musical or otherwise?
SS: My creative practice in general is drawn from Philosophic Alchemy, which centers a process of transforming yourself. “Nigredo” (this is where track 5 got its name) is the first step of the process, where there’s lots of imagery of extreme darkness, confronting dragons and lions, digging into the earth. It’s this whole metaphoric journey of getting deep down into your soul. Ego death etc. The main thing is the work of integrating the parts of yourself that you are afraid of or have been avoiding acknowledging, accepting that they are part of you. Musically: Bjork, Everything Everything, FKA twigs, and Son Lux are some of the biggest. I’m into art-pop.

CQ: What’s next??
SS: Next up is a 5 track EP! It’s an epilogue of sorts and I like it a lot. I’ve got big big plans for that release so keep an eye out!

St. Sol’s responses have only furthered my feelings on the meditative quality of water. Its endlessness provides plenty of space for grounding, be it via Philosophic Alchemy or just taking a sip to dispel dryness. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to your sadnesses-turned-growing-moments, look no further! Amphibian and its vibrations got you covered.

Find more St. Sol on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram.

St. Sol standing in the grass in front of a large tree.
St. Sol. Courtesy Georgia Wescott (@georgia.jpg)
Tags

alchemist, Amphibian, art-pop, artblog, artist, bjork, Black, corey qureshi, EP, Everything Everything, FKA twigs, meditative, non binary, north carolina, philly, Philly art, philly artblog, philly artist, philly music, philly musician, philosophic alchemy, queer, Son Lux, spiritual, St. Sol

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