The Mad Scientist is a misunderstood character trope. Beneath their fear mongering, mysterious garb and peculiar instruments lies a misguided genius just looking to place their talents and fit in with the world. Samuel McFall Leidig Higgins - the genius behind SMLH - is our mad scientist.

Hailing from the hills of North Carolina, SMLH shrouds the universal feelings of self-awareness and geographic heritage in waves of static, bottomless grooves and grippy hooks. On this year’s double album - Occoneechee Haunts + Staring Thru The Wall - Samuel explores his inner depths in all analog formats. Sitting somewhere between Deerhunter and Aphex Twin, SMLH will be a name worth remembering and a mystery worth solving. Though, I doubt you’ll solve it any time soon.

There’s winding, beach-ready guitars nestling up next to vocals that could’ve come through multiple distortion pedals at once. And it’s all backed by an easy-as-it-gets drum machine pattern. This is the work of a 17 year old with computer wires wound round his ankles, ready to make him trip. But trip he doesn’t, instead pulling off the improbable by making the slack and serene sound like the work of a perfectionist.
‘Neon Visions‘ is magnificent; a punch-drunk sway of Summery guitar lines and scratchy, torched vocals which bewitch and enchant as they fight for the front-seat. It’s this juxtaposition between the gnarliness of his voice and the sweetly melodic instrumentation which most impresses, pushing and pulling the listener through constantly shifting panorama’s; jagged then smooth, turbulent then calm. The age-old conflict of dark vs light, of good vs evil.

Photo Credit: Walt Lilly