Through social media, of all places, the well-established progressive rock band Aisles were able to find their new lead singer. After founding member Sebastián Vergara resigned in 2018, Aisles took to the musician’s application Vampr and found their new singer, Israel Gil. The band’s new rendition of their hit “Smile of Tears” is worth the wait. Though the band is based in Santiago, Chile, their English-language song is one of the most intriguing pieces to arise in quite some time. This song is remarkable feat of textured production and musicianship.
The new, entire Aisles lineup is Gil (vocals), Germán Vergara (guitar, producer), Rodrigo Sepúlveda (guitar), Felipe Candia (drums), Juan Pablo Gaete (keyboards, synth) and Daniel Concha (bass). “Smile of Tears” is the first single from the band’s highly anticipated June 2021 album. While that seems like a ways to go, there is a lot of re-working on the band’s arsenal of albums – Gil is joining a band that has been playing since 2001.
“Smile of Tears” has a synth bed, with heavy computerization at the beginning. Fans of Stranger Things will think it’s an original 80s hit, but the modern texture is way more up-to-speed. Don’t smile, don’t smile, sharp’s your sword, hear the call of steel, Gil sings. His voice is lofty, not completely falsetto. You can absolutely tell he’s singing with his eyes closes, so raptured by the words and the numbing music bed. Gazing, the listener just falls into the song, progressively falling farther and farther into the bewitching tonal tunnel. As Gil melodically pushes through the songs, his voice and his words seem to appear, only to be visually struck down. It’s like when you write on your mirror after a hot shower, with most of the words disappearing. Gil’s voice, though, leaves a trail of remnants. He sings with the same gumption and interesting cadence as Sameer Gadhia (Young The Giant), but with more art noir. Gil bleeds the words, he sings with such passion and raw emotion.
After the song’s bridge, the tone gets a bit brighter. The faint piano keys warm the mood. Gil’s voice, echoing the change in atmosphere, collides with the murmuring words unbeaten dweller tame all shapes. He sings like he’s opening up, that he’s finding his footing. Then, a near smack. Gil sings winds, hail, storm, desire. The percussion is confined, not much of an outburst. “Smile of Tears” is a delicious calamity of words and dissonance.
This song claws at your mind. I had an unexpected reaction of sadness, but not Sylvia Plath-level. I can surmise this song is about always smiling like you don’t want to reveal your true pain. If you just smile, people will leave you alone, or they will be attracted to you like a magnet. Once you have a crowd or an audience, that gnawing suspicion of being caught or anxiety feels like waves crashing over your psyche. You’re cornered. Caught. “Smile of Tears” leaves an audacious trail of confusion, invigoration and excitement all-at-once.
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