Peak Futures is a unique soul music collective brought together by writer-producer Chris Hills in London, with key members Sara De Santis (piano), Joe Bernie (vocals), Pauli the PSM (drums), Eva Brooks (vocals) and Rebecca Freckleton (vocals).
The group recorded their debut record Colours of the Sun in early 2020 and have been slowly unveiling the record ever since. In December 2020, they released the opening track, a cathartic retro stomper, ‘Tapestry’, and that was followed in March 2021 by part one of interstellar diptych ‘Orion’, and then in April by the deeply soulful ‘Broadway’.
The genesis of the album came together when Hills met keyboardist and producer Sara De Santis (Kindness, Sundara Karma) and singer Joe Bernie on returning to London in late 2019.
“I had a bunch of ideas that they just transformed into living, breathing songs as soon as we started working together. Once we got demos down I knew that bringing in Pauli and Tom Marsh (Lana Del Rey) on drums would add another dimension.”
Inspired by the sonic palettes of Isaac Hayes (both his early Stax staff arrangements as well as the epic solo era), Peak Futures’ sound doesn’t shy away from extended instrumentals or putting a non-vocal part at the forefront of a song.
“It’s not just about showcasing the great musicians I’m lucky enough to have on the album,” says Chris Hills. “I also feel that sticking to a 3-minute pop single formula is so limiting, especially when it comes to creating an album that has an arc to it that holds together if you actually listen to the whole thing. Which is what I hope people do with Colours of the Sun.”
The wider album takes the listener on an epic journey, threading a sonic and lyrical path which criss-crosses from the stellar to the earthly and back, or as the band’s founder puts it “the space-earth-space cycle is there to echo the idea that ultimately we all come from, are created out of, the stars, and in the end we all return to them.” Peppered throughout the album are actual space sounds pulled from NASA’s archives, placed right alongside bold choral arrangements, bringing that celestial world a little closer to our worldly experience. Examining the richness and detail of the state of being human is also a central theme on the record, as found in tracks ‘Makes me Wonder’ and ‘Broadway’. This leads right into the overarching trope of questioning our place in the cosmos, and as such the album finishes with a refreshing reprise of the opening track, ‘Orion’.
‘Orion (Reprise)’ features Pauli the PSM as both artist and drummer, bringing his laid-back yet percussive flow to the track and bringing the album to an unexpected conclusion.
“Like all the songs on the album it stands out by itself but really comes to life when listened to in sequence; it’s the closing chapter. When you come back from a great journey in life you’re never the same, that’s the point the song is making – the reprise has the same backing as the original but a totally different impact,” summarises Chris Hills.
Chris Hills – Guitar, Bass, Synths
Sara De Santis – Piano, Wurlitzer Electric Piano
Pauli the PSM – Drums
Tom Marsh – Drums (Andromeda)
PJ Ciarla – Drums (Broadway)
Arranged & Produced by Chris Hills
Mixed by Danny Trachtenberg
Mastered by Caspar Sutton-Jones at Gearbox Mastering
Additional Production by Danny Trachtenberg