Diego Philips – I Am Yuki: The Hiroshima Project (2022)

With his single ‘Sentimental Song’, Diego Philips brought a peaceful reflection of a world that is always rushing. His music is taking a very different turn with his latest EP I Am Yuki: The Hiroshima Project. The EP is the culmination of a project Philips has been working on for the last four years, telling the story of a young boy whose life is completely changed by the bombing of Hiroshima.

With the help of Vincent Cudet (drums), Jamie Moggridge (guitar), Michael Jones (bass) and Magda Skyllback (vocals), Philips created the first version of the EP in 2018. Since then, he has been refining the sound for the final concept album as it now stands. While the EP is a concept album, there is much more to it as the story delves into global peace, tolerance, forgiveness and understanding of each other.

The short track ‘Prelude’ opens the EP with a slow build to a rather haunting opening line. The guitar has a desolate feeling to it as it sweeps across a deserted plane. The call of the guitars drifts on the wind created by the sweeping instrumentation. Through this track, Philips is able to perfectly set the tone of the EP and fill you with the initial emotions of the story. While a short track, there is so much emotion and feeling packed into it as it paints a picture of deserted streets, eery emptiness and terrible loss.

‘Come Home Yuki’ changes the tone of the EP with a lighter, folky acoustic guitar opening. The electronic guitar that twangs and jangles through the soundscape creates a sunny beach feeling. Every element of the melody comes together for a relaxed and happy sound. Philips’ vocals have a jazzy soulful vibe as he slides into your senses. The backing vocals provided by Skyllback enhances the laid-back feeling of the performance. Through the lyrics, the track calls for Yuki to come back home with the easiness of a summer afternoon, while laying out the life he might have had. There is such a difference between this and the opening track, and it really showcases the different landscapes that make up the story of the EP.

The acoustic guitar that opens ‘In My Room’ has a more subdued feeling compared to the last track. There is a twilight feeling to the sound like the late afternoon sun is streaming in, as the sun starts to set. The stripped-back melodics of the track highlight the emotion that has been woven into the lyrics. Through Philips’ performance, you feel the safety that comes from hiding away in your room, from the problems of the world. As the drums enter and vibrate through your ears, there is a slight change in the feeling of the track. It is like the darkness of the world starts to creep into your safe place even though the acoustic guitar tries to keep the safety of the space. It is a very emotive track that fills you with the fear and uncertainty Yuki might have felt after the bombing.

There is a swaying motion to the opening tones of ‘Goodnight Little Boy’ that lull you into the track. Skyllback’s vocals bring an almost lullaby feeling to the track, making you think about the songs your mom sang to you as a child. You can feel the calming vibes of the track sink into your muscles and relaxing you. It is impossible to listen to this track and not feel a small smile tug at the corners of your mouth. As the lyrics lull you into a sleepy vibe, the music brings a feeling of anticipation for what the next day has to hold. It is an amazing track that draws you into a soft embrace, letting you leave all your troubles in the past.

‘End of the World, Pt. 1’ brings back the acoustic guitar that strums into your brain. The jangle of the second guitar line has you swaying to the rhythm as it effortlessly leads you further into the track. Philips’ vocals bring a feeling of awakening to a beautiful day full of clear skies and sun. Through the first verse, you are filled with the knowledge that the day is going to be wonderful, but this starts to turn as you get close to the end of the track. While a really short track, the song captures the hope for the day that Yuki would have felt, without any knowledge that his life would soon be changed forever.

There is a darker and more ominous feeling to ‘End of the World, Pt. 2’ that comes through the bass. The shuffle of the drums over the bassline builds a tension that solidifies in your shoulders and creates a pit in your stomach. When the rather funky tones of the rest of the instrumentation come in, you feel the urge to move to the music. That building from the opening remains and you constantly expect the release. As the single progresses, the drums pick up the pace to get your heart racing, while the guitars seem to call out a warning. It is a very intense sound that shakes you to the core, but you really can’t stop listening. In the context of the EP’s story, you can easily imagine this being the point when the planes drop the bomb and the wave of destruction sweeps through the city.

The EP closes with ‘End of the World, Pt. 3’ which brings a profound sadness to the soundscape through the opening. The opening notes are soft and delicate, making you feel like any loud sounds or sudden movements will shatter everything. Woven into this is the feel of the stillness that follows a major disaster. Rising from the depths is the drum that chokes you up with the emotion it brings, filling you with a sense of dread. Each instrument is powerful in its subtle touch. Skyllback’s vocals send shivers racing down your spine as she releases the poetic lyrics into the soundscape. The horror of what happened swirls in your soul and leaves a cold trail of terrible emotion in its wake. These feelings are enhanced by the movement of the melody. This is probably the most powerful track on the EP and leaves you with a lot to think about.

Diego Philips draws you into the story of I Am Yuki: The Hiroshima Project with intense instrumentation, captivating vocals and poetic lyrics. The first half of the EP lays the foundation of the life Yuki led before everything changes with the last three tracks. The EP is a powerful reminder of what happened and leaves you with a lot to think about as it ends.

Find out more about Diego Philips on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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