Review

Seru’s “Touching the Void” is a captivating journey of self-reflection that will soothe your soul

Seru is a Johannesburg-based electronic dream-pop duo featuring producer Steve Hogg (Vox Portent) and vocalist Jade Fortune who have a found a sound that is both uniquely beautiful and equally as ominous.

Seru’s debut EP via collective/label I Suppose Ja, Touching the Void leads with “Dark” and grips the listener immediately. Vocalist Jade Fortune’s soft, soothing and flawlessly-controlled voice delivers melodic perfection of every track. How the lyrics contrast both the calming sound of Jade’s voice and the upbeat production invokes an intense feeling of endlessness: like a psychedelic exploration of the void. But you know that the comedown, aided by nostalgic fear, is imminent. Jade is acutely aware of the fact that light implies dark, joy implies pain, and life implies death – that polar opposites need each other to exist.  

The words “Moving on through the night/ Trying to find a new day” create an air of sleeplessness – a symphony for those ceiling-staring nights that last a lifetime, where you’ve lost control of your thoughts and start to feel everything a little more. The wavy indie-electronic production and slight rhythmic changes keep the mood of the song generally light-hearted throughout, then Jade hits you with “I have lost so many good things to bad thoughts” and you resonate deeply with that longing for the new day to arrive, so you may start again.

“Dark” transitions into “Shadows” and brings with it a foreboding atmosphere – rendering you alert out of necessity. It’s an acceptance of the fact that beneath the surface there are things that we do not understand – in the subliminal, shadowed part of our mind. While “Dark” is like an ode to insomnia, “Shadows” feels like drifting around in limbo, like being both awake and asleep with the polarity of the conscious and unconscious mind evident.

“In a dream I know I’m alone/ Take control of my own consciousness/ Sinking sweetly into sleep” is the perfect depiction of a lucid dream, or some form of sleep paralysis that isn’t absolutely terrifying. It ends in a moment of clarity, as the vocalist exclaims that it’s “So sweet when you wake up warm/ And you know where you have to go” and a universal desire for stability hits you in the chest as the song comes to a halt. The production is a beautiful mixture of upbeat determinism, calmer thoughtfulness and quiet preparation that pulls you in immediately and all you can do is enjoy the ride.

The 3-track EP ends with “Falling” and evokes the feeling of staring at your vast surroundings while standing at the edge of the world, contemplating anything and everything. Swiftly, it’s as if you’re being carried upwards through the clouds in a state of euphoric clairvoyance, knowing that at some point you will be dropped, and you’ll either land safely or crash painfully but the choice is yours to make.

“You told me when you held me that it would be okay/ We both know that’s not true/ We all fade anyway” is the sombre realisation that everything must end. It is a painful thought. The slow back-and-forth indie-electro-pop-like production of the track throws you into a dreamlike state from the beginning, and ends with what feels like the soundtrack to hope. Soft, obscure vocals echo over a collection of sounds that round off the EP in the most satisfying way. It is a new beginning.

Finally, it would be criminal to ignore the contribution of guitarist Matthew Watson, who has since parted ways with Seru, on Touching the Void. His hand adds an alluring post-rock element to an already well-formulated sound of an EP that I would immediately click play on if I were you.

X