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Have you ever felt like you’re being watched? Have you felt unseen eyes staring at you, monitoring your every move? Composer and guitarist Daniel Davies reflects on this familiar paranoia on his new EP, Spies. Across its five stirringly atmospheric tracks, the frequent John Carpenter collaborator evokes the tingle you get on the back of your neck when you sense you’re under surveillance — a feeling some psychologists have dubbed the “psychic staring effect.”
The songs for Spies were composed in the fall and winter of 2020, in the depths of pandemic lockdown. Working in isolation in his L.A. studio, Davies composed the five tracks entirely alone. With no collaborators, his gaze turned inward, and the songs feel intimate and intense. Yet at the same time, they would become the most sonically expansive material he’s ever put on a solo record. His guitar and synthesizer are bolstered by double bass, cello, viola, and violin, adding a new depth to the music.
As he did for his 2020 full-length Signals, Davies teamed up with acclaimed visual artist Jesse Draxler for the artwork. The stark, black-and-white piece that Draxler contributed for the cover of Spies perfectly captures the mood of the record. Eyes are cut out, disassociated from faces, their gazes made inscrutable. Yet they seem to fix on the listener. Have you ever felt like you’re being watched? Maybe you are.