After several single releases and the release of his Transcendence EP, Robert O’Connor has delivered yet another sonic masterpiece that is pushing his more than. deserved efforts into the big leagues.
Getting straight into the Severance EP, we start off the 8-track list with the Intro track. Starting off as a singular heartbeat, we’re treated to this slow and mysterious introduction to the EP. And when things evolve into the track proper, that heartbeat is sped up and serves as the backbone drum beat of a fantastic, bass-filled bop. It’s an amazing transition harkening back to the golden age of old-school rave, and drum’n’bass.
Before you know it, it’s transitioned into O’Connor’s most recent single, Save You. And it’s here in all its glory. The thick, blood-pumping drum beat, gentle beeps to balance it out, and finely tuned voice of O’Connor giving a minimal performance that is what make EDM tracks such as this so infectious. There’s something quite powerful about how the music meshes together here, in particular the crescendo it circles around to for the majority of the track. It’s something that really has to be heard.
Following on from this stand-out single is a tough task, but one that is relished and taken in stride. Separate Ways is the next track, with a more involved vocal performance, continual fantastic EDM beats, and some extra elements just to push the boundaries more. The main differing factor between this track versus Save You is the vocals. Rather than the lowkey slightly tuned ones on the Save You, here they’re clean and natural, letting raw talent carry them and the more anthem-based track. They’re the main hook of the song and succeed in carrying the track pretty damn hard, due to the more simple backing track.
One Way Ticket is the next track, and from it’s opening moments it hits like a truck. It takes both the key aspects of the previous tracks and just smashes them together unabashedly. With another unique EDM backing track that goes pretty damn hard with how bumping and catchy it is; and a vocal performance that’s full of heartfelt lyrics. It’s a savage breakup track at its core, and one that doesn’t beg for forgiveness or anything soppy, instead leaning hard into a clear message of closure.
Now at the roughly halfway point is the Interlude. And surprisingly enough, it switches gears drastically into a classical track that sounds straight out of a fairy tale. Full of piano, strings, horns and an oddly calming feel. It’s this surprising break in the middle of it all, absent of any synth, drum machine, or anything else even remotely in the EDM camp. It’s a palate cleanser that keeps things fresh and interesting.
Been & Gone does keep the piano feel, but folds it back into line with the rest of the EP, cleverly mixing everything together. It’s a much softer track than to open the second half, with shades of regret and melancholy that mirror One Way Ticket. It’s got a gentle drum beat, much more heartfelt lyrics than the cynicism of its evil twin track. Alongside the gentle drums are piano keys, high notes, and a softer overall feel. It’s bittersweet though and continues the story seemingly set up on One Way Ticket with a downbeat conclusion that just pulls the heartstrings.
The Last Time follows on with the ongoing relationship theme and seems to continue the overall EP theme and a loose concept. Whether it’s the autobiographical or fiction is not for us to know, but it’s no doubt relatable. That one last shot at a relationship that may or may not be doomed to fail. It’s arguably the weakest track as the music doesn’t jump out, or pack a punch quite as much as it’s contemporary tracks. Nonetheless, it still hits an emotional spot and keeps the bar set very high for O’Connor’s ever-growing song list.
The Outro to the EP acts exactly like the Intro, this time serving as the Outro to The Last Time, just as the Intro serves to tee up Save You. It does feel a little unnecessary making it it’s own track, but thematically it fits well enough. And at only 1:14 runtime it’s easy to see why this would make sense. Regardless though, it caps off a strong EP that captures a unique sound that hasn’t had anything sound close to it in nearly 20 years.
Robert O’Connor is, without a doubt, onto something with this EP (and his prior musical efforts for that matter). He’s capturing a lot of ideas and weaving them together to make something fresh and out of the box. He even manages to string together a loose concept story, centering on a turbulent relationship. One that really earns the EP its namesake of Severance. It’s distinctive and captivating in such a unique way that it’s worth experiencing if you have any love for EDM, Pop, Indie, and even that little bit of classical.