What have we here?
If you spend your days trawling the depths of the internet in search of new artists, your perception can tend to get a bit muddled.
As you travel, you compartmentalize: These are the artists I can ignore because I know them already, these are the ones I can ignore because they're buzzing for these reasons, these are the ones I can ignore because they're not very good, these are the ones I can ignore because they're in bed with the bloggers, these are the ones I should check out because I like this sound, name, or image. You can stop seeing artists and songs as creation to be experienced, and begin to see them as data to be consumed and processed or ignored entirely (a sort of processing in itself).
Some of the reasons are arbitrary and you attempt to keep an open mind, but this sort of immediate classification is both necessary and dangerous. It's a developing reflex that you can comfortably lean on if you sharp it properly, but it can also malfunction at times and cause you to miss music you should be listening to.
When I first saw the name "ROMANS" in my RSS feed, the latter almost happened.
A tab to a Line of Best Fit interview with the artist--whose name I'd never seen--lay open for several hours as I tried to steel up the nerves to actually read the damn thing. I scanned the interview and tried to find reasons to close the tab and move on to the next RSS feed entry. I'd read a snippet of the conversation, glance at one of the images for a second, and contemplate hitting that tiny x to end the charade of my attention.
I couldn't do it. The tab stayed open until, finally, I watched the video below for ROMANS' "Ballad of a Figure 8."
I was immediately drawn in by the song, an alluring mixture of soaring vocals and production that seems to take as many cues from pounding electro-funk as it does from early George Michael. I listened to the song four times in a row. I devoured the interview. I needed to know everything.
I very quickly realized I was doing ROMANS wrong.
The project--currently consisting of three songs, with much more still to come--is a narrative. I had dropped in mid-stream: As YouTube reveals, "Ballad of a Figure 8" is "Act I: Chapter II." Scrambling over to ROMANS' website, I was treated to a unique, streamlined experience: The man's name, a series of roman numerals, and links to socials.
If you simply sit tight, a video featuring found footage starts to play. Click the "II" and the video for Black Keys-esque "Act I: Chapter I. "The Die Is Cast" begins to play, filling the whole page. Pressing "III" and "IV" takes you through the next chapters of story, the aforementioned "Ballad of a Figure 8" and haunting, borderline indie R&B of "This Might Hurt."
Clean and compelling, the site combined ROMANS' music--in itself enough to hold my attention--with highly stylized visuals, an intriguing multimedia experience that left me with more questions than answers, and, ultimately, led to the interview you're about to read and mixtape you're about to hear.
Perhaps the best way to experience ROMANS is as I did, with complete blindness and a simple hunger to know what the hell was going on. For you adventurous types, I've laid out the story as I experienced it (and ruined the chance for you to hear it in sequence). Below you can find "The Die Is Cast" and "This Might Hurt," giving you the opportunity to listen to the narrative in its proper order. To give the story in brief and do little justice to its depth, Chapter I deals with an accident, Chapter 2 death, and Chapter 3 rebirth. Let your imagination handle the rest.
Act I: Chapter I. "The Die Is Cast"
Act I: Chapter III. "This Might Hurt"CONTINUE READING