As the principal writer, producer and performer of numerous projects, Josh -- who chooses to go by first name only -- is indeed a craftsman. He switches roles between Narse, the Pancreatic Aardvarks, Gallows Tree and the Good Neighbors, all mainly solo acts that cross through the genres of electronica, trip-hop and "goth" music. The Craftsman EP is his first release under the Narse moniker, and with it, he pushes the limits and restrictions of those genres.
With the addition of classically trained vocalist Virginia, whose compelling voice adds a dramatic, almost theatrical element to the music, the EP places the full capabilities of electronic and synthetic instrumentation against the full capabilities of the human voice.
The title track is a slow, dark and atmospheric narrative with the very natural sounds of the singing layered atop the very unnatural sounds of synthesizers and drum machines. There are four versions of this song on the release -- two remixes and two different edits -- making it somewhat repetitive for a six-song EP, but the remixes take it in very different directions. The Good Neighbors remix is way more upbeat, with the vocals pulsing spastically between speakers and a sort of techno-Celtic spin at the end. The Pancreatic Aardvarks rendition removes nearly all of the background music, twisting the vocal effects into an eerie cacophony of echoes and incantations.
The other two songs, "Let Go" and "Change," are more in the veins of new wave, electronica and synth pop, but unique with operatic harmonies. As a debut release, it's a good sign of what's to come, and with a full-length album due out this summer, Narse will surely continue to conjure a mixture of moods and melodies.