After hearing the single “Pressure,” I knew Until The Ribbon Breaks was onto something special. Until The Ribbon Breaks is the moniker for the UK-based R&B-meets-electronic singer and producer Pete Lawrie Winfield. It’s hard to find artists to compare him to, but if I was forced to, I would pick names like James Blake, Jamie Woon, or Fryars. While originally sucked in by the breathy, stark, often-layered vocals of Winfield, I’ve since fallen hard for the complete spectrum of Winfield’s talents, which includes a strong mastery of production.
Today marks the release of the debut EP for Winfield as Until The Ribbon Breaks; A Taste of Silver is a 5-track EP containing tracks called “2025,” “Perspective (ft. Homeboy Sandman),” “Romeo,” “Pressure,” and “Back To The Stars.” After a handful of full listens, ”Pressure” remains the highlight for me of the artist’s debut EP, but the compilation as a whole is breathtaking. Another standout track for me was third track “Romeo.” A quiet song that starts with some highly-produced clips of vocals and instrumentals and then funnels into Until The Ribbon Breaks’s whispery and dual-toned vocals, the song maintains an element of intrigue throughout. UTRB mastered the mysterious storytelling vibe and alluring vocal patterns in a way I hear few others doing today. Somehow if my mind wandered in an attempt to relate Winfield’s stories to my own world, the focal point remains Winfield’s music when he sings “You see I would have killed Romeo/ And saved Juliet/ But I don’t write stories/ That time wont forget/ So wont you pass me the kerosene/ Let’s burn to the ground/ You’ve been looking for meaning/ Did you like what you found?” I’m hooked on those words.
A major drawing point for me is that Until The Ribbon Breaks has a way of taking a song from one sound and turning it into something completely different unexpectedly. It’s a beautiful act that you can hear best in the first minute of “Pressure.” In the same song, UTRB takes a heavy bass and drum machine patterns to the track, and also slides into a sweet sound of semi-muted piano paired with his hushed vocals singing “maybe in another life/ maybe in another life/ if we get another life/ maybe in that life/ I could learn to love you.” The change-ups are both shocking and comforting, particularly when you come full circle to the softer sections.
Throughout this EP, Until The Ribbon Breaks manages to flex both his vocal and production muscles, but while I first paid most attention to the sexy vocals of Until The Ribbon Breaks until this point, it’s worth paying close attention to the genius behind Winfield’s music production. Listen closely on tracks like “Romeo” and “Pressure” — there is a stunning blend of electronic noises, raw drum builds, and simple piano melodies that marry the vocals perfectly. The one downfall for me, and where my attention wandered the most during my listens, was on the second track, “Perspective.” To me, this track didn’t fit in with the rest of the collection. I appreciated that Homeboy Sandman was featured on the track, particularly as it seems the two artists have strong opinions on the cultural state of the world and have expressed them through their music, but the sonic qualities of “Perspective” just didn’t fall in line with the beauty of the rest of the EP for me.
And what’s most, for me, is the path the short EP takes. It starts with “2025,” which is a dark track focusing on societal misfortunes, opening with the lyrics “I was born with my back to the stars,” but shedding light on human pretension, loneliness as the new normal, and even online dating. It winds through Winfield’s mind and stories, and ends with “Back To The Stars” which also starts with the lyrics “I was born with my back to the stars,” but this time around Winfield tells of another who has touched him so, by singing “and you, what have you done for me?/ you’ve opened up my eyes/ you’ve opened up my eyes.” Without knowing much of a backstory, it leads me to imagine that it’s an uplifting tale of a man at his lows who finds love in a dark place. In an age where it’s hard to listen to a compilation from front to back and feel any sort of completeness or satisfaction, Until The Ribbon Breaks has brought back a mysterious storytelling component to not just songwriting, but album-writing (or in this instance, EP-writing). Something tells me this is just the beginning of a long and healthy career for Winfield as Until The Ribbon Breaks. With an incredible release of A Taste of Silver and tour dates with rising star Lorde, the future is bright for this artist.