18-year-old J.R.P. Seriel's adventurous 'Oasis'
J.R.P Seriel has already had quite the career for an 18-year-old.
The Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, engineer, and producer recently came out with his fifth album, Oasis.
Though Puerto Rican, Seriel currently calls Madison, Wisconsin his home. As a Minnesotan, I found this fact to be kind of interesting. The college town, which also happens to be the capital of the state, is a hidden gem of the Midwest, and has always had a vibrant music scene. Their Main Street is filled with fun clubs, bars, and record stores.
Though I’m from the Twin Cities, so Madison isn’t that far, I only visited there for the first time early last Spring. Its culture and vibe certainly made an impression on me, and I’m sure it’s been a good atmosphere for Seriel to create in.
Somewhat amazingly, he released three Eps/albums in 2021. The first, Hologram, is almost aggressively minimalistic, but it only puts a finer point on how well Seriel crafts his material. Highlights include “Be Fine,” “Rewind,” and “Winter.”
His second 2021 release, Reverie, combines minimalism with avant-garde and even a little bit of pop. “Euphoric Devestation,” “Soul,” and “Aurora” are especially interesting.
The Trip rounded out his trio of 2021 albums. Hypnotic “Repeat After Me” showed that this was going to be different than his other albums, as it’s even more mature and features an even wider pallete of sounds. “Just a Dream” and “Even in Our Sleep” are especially trippy.
2022 saw the release of Voltage, another step forward for Seriel. Highlights from that record include the engaging mix of sounds on “Drive,” minimalist guitar-led “Prism,” and almost industrial sounding “Lies.”
Seriel’s most recent release, Oasis, shows his progression as a singer and songwriter, in addition to his growing skills as a creator of soundscapes.
The minimialistic swirling synths of “Neptune” make it a unique opening track. “Medicine” has a more laid-back vibe, featuring an effortless vocal and some nice, understated percussion.
Acoustic-based “Everything is Everything” is propelled by a distinctive beat and guitar riff. This vibe continues on “Moonlight,” which features some really smooth guitar playing. Short interlude “Watertown” is lovingly ethereal.
Seriel goes really minimalistic on “Gypsies” which, if you don’t watch out, might just put you in a trance. “Footsteps” combines many different sounds: it’s a bit poppy, a bit industrial, and also interestingly minimalistic.
The laid-back, understated vibe on “Carousel” is punctuated by a catchy closing half. “Soldier” is even poppier, from its beginning synth swells and beat to its ethereal ending. Acoustic-based “Sunset” is entrancing.
Another smooth guitar part begins “Boomerang,” which builds into another effortless, upbeat track, though its lyrics are a bit darker. It gets spacier as the track goes on, which is interesting as well. “Choir of Emptiness” is a good example of how Seriel’s lyrics go deeper than a lot of stuff on pop radio, which is especially impressive considering how young he is.
“Come Alive” begins acoustically but develops into another poppy, minimalistic gem. The title track, like opening “Neptune,” doesn’t feature any drums, which helps emphasize the lyrics, in addition to Seriel’s voice. While synths lay the foundation of “Neptune,” some cool, ethereal guitar lays the foundation of “Oasis.”
The album keeps this low-key vibe for closing tracks “The Miracle” and “Drowning in Silence,” which both impress with their subtlety. Acoustic “Drowning in Silence” has a different, even more mature vibe than the rest of the album, and is a fitting closing track.
There’s a lot that I haven’t covered yet, especially about the sort of person Seriel is, and how he goes about creating music. I figured I’d give a window into who he is through the prism of some quotes by artists that have influenced him.
“Solar power, wind power, the way forward is to collaborate with nature – it’s the only way we are going to get to the other end of the 21st century” – Bjork
J.R.P. Seriel has made clear that Bjork is a big influence of his, and it shows on all his albums. His creativity and unique approach to music is definitely in the Bjork vein, although he certainly doesn’t just copy her, he takes her aesthetic and filters it through his own unique vision. Seriel is also something of an activist, and discusses many pertinent issues in his music. It’s also very natural sounding.
“Around the middle of last year I started listening to a lot of rap, like Nicki Minaj and Drake… They all sing about such opulence, stuff that just didn’t relate to me – or anyone that I knew. I began thinking, “How are we listening to this? It’s completely irrelevant.” – Lorde
Lorde has also made an impact on Seriel. Her soundscapes and vocal style are definitely felt on his albums. His lyrics are also meaningful and go beyond the surface-level stuff that you find on the radio and in pop music today, which Lorde presciently describes here.
“I think quotes are very dangerous things.”
― Kate Bush
Alright, so this quote doesn’t really shed light on Seriel at all, but I came across it and thought it was kind of funny, especially in the context of my using quotes to illuminate music, as I do in this article. It’s a great quote, too, and also true: sometimes quotes can over-simplify a point, can make things seem simpler than they are, and can thus be a negative force.
Bush, though, is clearly an influence on Seriel, so it all comes together in that way.
Click here to listen to and purchase J.R.P.’s latest album, Oasis