Motel by Arjuna Oakes: A Psychedelic Soul Odyssey

by Marcus Adetola

10th June, 2024

Motel by Arjuna Oakes: A Psychedelic Soul Odyssey

Arjuna Oakes’Motel is a swirling vortex of neo-soul and psychedelic funk that ensnares you from the first intoxicating beat.

The profoundly hypnotic groove pulsates with an illicit, fever-dream vitality, its relentless rhythm draped in the illusory opulence of shimmering Fender Rhodes and kaleidoscopic synths.

Arjuna Oakes Motel song cover
Arjuna Oakes Motel song cover

Yet, swirling beneath the entrancing surface, lurks a murkier undercurrent. Arjuna Oakes’ unvarnished, impassioned vocals draw you into the song’s visceral core, his intimate delivery encapsulating the feeling of entrapment—of being marooned in stasis, feverishly seeking escape.

“The imagery of being stuck in a shitty motel room just felt like it resonated well,” he divulges. “I wanted the groove to feel relentless and the psychedelic production to hint at the darker themes at play.”

And incessant it is, the live-recorded drums and bass laying down a propulsive bedrock that compels the track ever onward.

Oakes’ voice soars atop this rhythmic whirlwind, at once vulnerable and tenacious, his cadence infused with soulful inflections that evoke the Soulquarians’ eclectic influence—a debt paid in full when the song metamorphoses for its second half.

Here, the instrumentation blossoms into a lush, jazz-hued tapestry, with Jo Jenkins’ intricate guitar work and James Macewan’s brassy trumpet imbuing the psychedelic soundscape with vivid new textures.

It’s an audacious stylistic shift, but one that feels utterly organic, with the myriad elements converging into a unified whole that transcends its individual parts.

For the first half, Arjuna Oakes remains the magnetic anchor, his vocals imbued with an emotional intensity that reverberates long after the final notes have dissipated.

Motel is an entrancing, genre-melding odyssey, a work that deftly intertwines the personal and the musical into a singular, indelible vision.

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