A lot of art has been made since the start of global lockdown, some in spite of it, and some directly because of it. Chillin in the Void feels very much the latter. Even the title recalls the cheerful nihilism characterizing lockdown memes on the Internet. It’s a situation of “imagine Sisyphus happy,” or at least, content to chill in a void.
This EP was made in ten hours in one night by Rosehip Teahouse’s lead singer, Faye Rogers, sat on her carpet in her home, with her housemate, Alice Low (of the project Low’s Museum). It’s Rogers’ creation, her bandmates in separate quarantine. I won’t call it warm, but it’s far from callous; it’s matter-of-fact, but optimistic.
EP opener ‘It’s the Wrong Time,’ with its dual focus on a slow keyboard part and vocals from Rogers, is a song that effectively doubles as the sensory experience of listening to raindrops. The humming static in the background feels in turns like a quiet physiological tinnitus or the drone of pipes through a building wall. Instrumentally, this track reminds me of mid-career Blur; the continual refrain, however, of, “it’s the wrong time,” is pure Rosehip Teahouse.
‘Regretting It’ immediately picks up the pace and energy, bringing in a quickly strummed acoustic guitar and a conventional bassline, while maintaining the EP’s lo-fi electronic soundscape. Rogers displays more of her lyric and vocal skill, showing her emotional control over even her head voice, with percussion (and the percussive style of this acoustic guitar) tying everything together into a cohesive piece. For a song about feeling overwhelmed and despairing over the future, it’s remarkably matter-of-fact, like a melancholy Sisyphus.
‘Thought Number 3’ focuses on synthesized keyboards and a gentle metallic orchestration that pairs with Rogers’ voice and backing vocals. The lyrics convey a quiet depression—“I’m sorry if I can’t get out of bed/ I am sorry if I think I’m better off dead.” This short track (under two minutes in length) ends with a sustained electronic wailing sound, less one of explicit despair, and more of an emotion whose name is simply that sound.
‘Space to Think’ brings in a plucked guitar, and quiet, psychedelic synthesizers, blurring with Rogers’ voice in a manner befitting the subject material. After all, the narrator’s mouth, as she says, “can’t form the words.” With its space age aesthetic, it sounds in the best possible way like it could have been written as a John Lennon-Delia Derbyshire collaboration.
The last and grandest track on the record is ‘Light Footed, for Once,’ featuring the reedy sounds of winds and a plucked guitar given a new resonance. “Let me rest in your gentle blues,” croons Rogers and a saxophone takes over the melody, and then hands it back. As the pair pass the line back and forth, Rogers’ vocal dexterity is on display in a way it hasn’t been and the narrator seems to discover a melancholy peace for herself—she’s chillin’ in the void.
Under lockdown, a lot of us have been feeling sleepy, unable, for a multitude of reasons, to do anything particularly high-energy. The act of creating music this lovely in the span of one night is no easy, low-energy task, but the actual EP still serves as a fitting soundtrack for our lives in this time where we have to find peace in the spaces in-between.
The new EP, Chillin in the Void is out now via Sad Club Records – available to Stream/Purchase here.