The Totals is a project headed up by British-born musician Mohsin Siddiqui. Music was a big part of Mohsin’s childhood, starting in his family’s home. He learned to love singing and dancing to his father's old record collection. His uncle introduced him to Oasis in 1995 and from that moment on he wanted to follow in a Rock 'n' Roll star.
Now residing in Portland, Oregon, it was there where he met some extremely talented friends and fellow musicians who helped him produce work for what is now The Totals.
Fresh off the release of The Totals' second LP 'Divided,' the twelve-track album embodies heavy-hitting energy that simmers in the realm of fully vibrant sound waves. Kicking off the album with the first single “Shaking,” we hone in on the classic rock traits that the driving guitar riffs embody as they fill the speakers in a sustaining charisma. With drum patterns so tight, the tempo has us navigating through hues of colossal animation as the smoldering timbres of Mohsin Siddiqui infiltrate the instrumentation in a manner that is fresh with raspy intensity.
Residing in a bluesy atmospheric feel, the authenticity that gets served up in “One More Thing,” delivers a high octane offering of upbeat hues. Flowing with a melodic chant and surprising musical arrangement featuring plenty of sonic goodness over an intricate dance-like beat and groove, this track propels with its appeal to various genres that come together and cover mass ground.
As we transition into the third song featured on the mid-tempo “Song on a Sunny Day,” we’re greeted with a more minimalistic introduction that takes us into a soothing blanket of luscious electricity. Even during their moments of more melancholic geared creations, the overall structure of The Totals isn’t compromised. Flaunting their moderate versatility through harmonized rhythm, and gently strummed guitar chords, the potency of this song offers a multi-dimensional look into the band’s aura.
You can’t have the sun without the rain and that’s why the progression of this tracklist radiates in impeccable order with “Song on a Rainy Day,” following the previous warm hues. Dipping into a somber tone that slows the tempo down in a way that has you recalibrating, The Totals maintains a blues-like feel in their flourishing rock quintessence.
“New York City,” has us nostalgic during the opening moments of its soundscape, as we hear the repetitive guitar lick accompanying meaningful percussion that slaps with a purpose. Booming with heartfelt memories in the reminiscent lyrics such as, ‘Hotel from motel, I’m jumping around. Till I stop to rest and see the whole town,’ we feel that this is the moment we get to sink into The Totals as more than musicians, but as individuals apart from their music.
We’re raving over the striking harmonies dispersed in the minimalistic “Until You Save Me.” This striking record enlists the talents of Caitlin Marcus in order to achieve such a poignant vibrato in the beautifully scoped delivery. We instantaneously fall into the dynamism that both Mohsin Siddiqui and Caitlin Marcus share as they feed off of one another’s energy in a ballad that could move mountains.
Reaching the seventh song on 'Divided,' we grasp onto the distinctive resonance filtered through “(Interlude).” An almost ethereal voyage sparks up the essence of release in a liberating moment of fresh air in all the glory that is encapsulated in this uplifting minute.
Through an eclectic arrangement of opulence, we get to kick the tempo up a notch as we listen to “Silence in the After.” Exuding a balanced blend of bright and dark elements, the complexity of The Totals’ musical concepts gets portrayed through the instrumentation. Pairing that with a simplistic yet compelling songwriting style that has the words, ‘Wanna be the silence in the after. You got me, the silence in the after,’ being chanted repeatedly, we appreciate the unique take on The Totals’ artistic canvas.
“Easy to Remember,” commences with a wholesome feel as you plunge into its reverberated echoes and sonic density that attaches a 90’s vibe to this piece of work. The buttery beat and the passive guitars create a rumbling atmosphere that perfectly fuses with the lyrics depicting a narrative of emotions eating away at someone.
The title track “Divided,” sits at number ten on the tracklist, and let us tell you, it does not disappoint. In a frenzy of psychedelic intensity, the lathering passion transitions through a conveyance that takes on down tempos and upbeat liveliness. The various layers that produce this smoldering framework have us fixated on the distorted essence throughout the journey of 'Divided.'
Coming close to the final moments of the album 'Divided,' we have the washy miasma of vocals that welcome us in on “Save the Lights (Parts 1 & 2).” In an interesting extended rock tune with a pleasant rudiment focused on spatial principles, the distorted bassline jumps out at us as well as the sprinkled piano chords throughout the composition. With lyrics exploring the foundations of saving yourself in the perspective of the world, there are tidbits of wisdom laced in the entirety of “Save the Lights (Parts 1 & 2),” that haves us gracefully ready to complete this sonic expedition.
As we reach the end of the album, we take in all that is the straightforward “Gonna Lose It.” The rootsy and acoustic ballad once again wraps up The Totals’ minimalistic approach to their craft that they are known to throw in the mix by showing at times less is more. Breaking into the fierce finale that remains the perfect piece to close off the project, “Gonna Lose It,” highlights division between two people. Providing a theatrical spotlight to shine on The Totals, we get to take in true talent both musically and lyrically as the varied and engaging album prides itself on top-tier production and performances throughout.
Listen to 'Divided' here.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, The Totals. We love the entire soundscape of your album 'Divided.' Could you please take us into the concept behind this body of work?
Thank you, I’m excited to be chatting with you all! The album basically started with a loose concept of love and loss and a playlist of songs I had been deep diving into. During pre-production, some of the themes solidified as a divorce in my family developed, so some of the songs changed lyrically along the way. Musically I wanted to work with more programmed and synthesized sounds too as the theme of love (more acoustic and poppy) went into a loss (more cold and robotic), so experimenting especially with the second half of the album was an exciting prospect as we moved forward into recording.
We hear various sounds that complete the essence of 'Divided.' Could you please take us into the team that helped to enhance the sonic visions exuded?
Sitting with my dear friend and producer Dan Marcus, I played him the demos of the songs I had in mind and snippets of the songs I wanted to sound like along the way. There was a range of sounds influenced by Blur, Supergrass, Radiohead, and Bruce Springsteen to name a few. Working with Dan for the last 7 years on various projects including the first releases for The Totals, there was a deeper understanding and a more focused concept of sounds to use. The drums (split with myself and Barrett Rider) sounded larger, the guitars (Cody French) soared to new heights and brought in a lot of New Wave/Britpop sounds. On-point backing vocals from an old friend Ali Parassidis, and some magical synth/keys moments from Greg Withers (both fellow Canadians) gave the extra roundness to the songs. There was also a wonderful duet featuring Caitlin Marcus on vocals. I was honored to have her on a duet, and "Until You Save Me" would not be strong without her. I'm absolutely grateful to all these great musicians and friends I know from my time in different places in my life.
How long did it take for you to create this masterpiece? Could you please shine a light on the creative journey you embarked on when bringing it to life?
I had a collection of about 15 songs together around the end of 2019 which Dan Marcus and I whittled down to 13 (one which was left out of the final album). From there I did the scratch tracks on my own, and we planned on starting the drums and everything else in March of 2020. We got the drums done just as the pandemic hit the States, which made things both harder and easier at the same time. Our bubble was pretty intact to finish the album and with work-life a little more confined we got it started and mixed in 18.5 weeks. I was moving back to Boston from Portland, Oregon too so there was definitely a timeline to get it all recorded before the end of June. There were a few friends we were not able to feature on this album unfortunately and some sounds we had to work around without certain gear. However, overall it was impressive to improvise some sounds on the fly. For instance, I wanted an attack/delay specifically on "Song on a Sunny Day", but we weren't able to grab the pedal we needed so we worked around it with a delay and volume pedal throughout the entire song (took a little practice for me to get that down).
Being your second LP, what differences did you encounter from the release of the first album to now?
Aside from the pandemic, the second LP was actually easier to get done. The musicians were all great friends and we had played together in this or other groups before so focusing on the sounds I wanted was easy. There was a freedom we were able to have on this record as well since we recorded it with all the gear in one or two houses, so grabbing a pedal and trying it out like the fuzz box on "Gonna Lose It" was easy to set up and try out. If we needed to practice parts we could pick a day and get it done, and some of the songs were jammed beforehand with a full band before COVID hit so it was fun to work those structured songs with new sounds while recording. The first album was a mishmash of practicing songs and getting them done with little change, and any additions were after (for example the strings on that first album). Having more vision and time to mess with sounds this second album made it more fun and experimental.
What are you hoping that your audience takes away from the themes and messages heard on this album?
My main goal for an audience on this album is to take a journey through the highs and lows of relationships. There are moments where love can be beautiful and new (ie: “Song On A Sunny/Rainy Day”) and the dark places aren’t pretty (ie: “Gonna Lose It), but the themes of love and loss and parties changing feelings can be taken as a whole and as individual songs. I hope the rage of sounds gives the audience at least one song they really dig too. I love a lot of different genres and this album was a chance to add some of those other genres.