Stop what you’re doing, you’ll need to hear this one because it’s unbearably attractive to the ears. Four songs in and for my money, Spirit Faces are there. On last single ‘Jupiter’ we heard massive Neil Young vibes and a honey voice, but this new one, this is the one that points at a release that’ll throw some unexpected hairpins turns when you were ready to drive straight through to Middle Dural. You guessed it, this is the Galston Gorge of songs. Tempo changes, guitars that make way for saxes that make way for guitars and a vocal that’s only half there when it’s there. That’s the rough makeup of what you’ll hear and all this with a raw edge that screams ‘one take recording’. Like everything they’ve released prior ‘Momentum’ is a free download and like everything prior it’s exceptional.
Hey buds. How are we? Got a new song from Paul Conrad to share with y’all. Called Heresy Baby and it was a strange case of “do I hate this or do I really like it a whole lot?”… Weird vibes. The track carries the mantle of southern baptist subversions that work in tandem with the Americanized vocal. It’s throwback but it ain’t that far back, maybe a decade or so. In the end I gave it the benefit of the doubt on the strength of old man Conrad’s first single ‘Thanks For Nothing’ which is a diamond and I’m glad I did because now knee deep in it and unrepentant. A little lyricism can really go a long way in this world of mixed down vocals & hyper chop’n'screwery. Who’d have thought you could string words together into sentences to create meaning with some sort of consistency across a song. Certainly not me.
This week was spent careening through bizness lyfe trying to get that Oscar Key Sung that digital traction it deserves and it’s been largely at the expense of any further musical exploration. I haven’t had the chance to lend my ears to anything new and my feedly has backed up to the point where I may just ‘mark all as read’. Dangerous territory. The Silver lining though, is that I did hear this number from Silver Hills which provided the woozy soundscape to some quiet alone time. ‘Just a dream’ is the phrase that comes back again and again across this jam and it’s that floating, problem free attitude that’s served me so well. The guitar sharper guitar of the verses is lowered as the chorus hits and group BVs cushion you into the opened armed peace of it all. Make sure you follow that hyperlink though, it’s important.
Performers and poets spilling out their emotions is one of our oldest and most reliable forms of entertainment. The modern-day equivalent of a crowd gathering on a street corner: 101 likes on Facebook. Who is ‘Brother Witch’? Let’s find out. These songs are thematically based around feelings of insecurity in ‘the world’, social and existential anxiety, the desire to be loved (‘I just want you to feel like I’m your biggest deal’): the usual litany of what one might expect to be the concerns of a sensitive soul in a materially affluent/spiritually impotent wasteland that is this great nation of ours. The songs are very relational, and I guess if you were in the exact state of mind as Brother Witch, relatable. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not having a dig. I think there is real merit in the specificity of his expression of ideas; in an artist resisting the temptation to homogenise content until it is ‘widely relatable’ for that ‘wide audience’ which is sure to come ‘when I get played on Triple J’.
We can thank the miracle of modern home-recording software for the tight production on these tracks. Disembodied voices start the opener ‘I Fear’, sampled and cut-up. This pitch-shifted computer choir merges into a simple guitar part that sits underneath the opening line- “I fear that the whole world is crashing down on me.” The tune meanders in a charming, unresolved way that complements the message of the lyrics well. Some of the tracks remind me of ‘The XX’ (girl/boy duets, single-note guitar melodies, mixture of organic sounds and electronic beats), or perhaps Atlas Sound. There was a moment in ‘Slow Motion’ when a repetitive reverberating beep sound made me think I was Sean Connery in ‘Hunt For Red October’, shooting off sonar and defecting from the USSR. Great memories.
“This sounds like something I’ve already heard.” is a common critique currently, as we are bombarded with audiovisual stimulation day in and day out. Is it valid to use as a criticism? It probably says more about our unrealistic expectations as listeners than the intentions of the artist. So I’ll just say this EP is a solid release: well realised in production and vision. Many people will like it, more than 101. Check it out, see if you’ll add to that number.
I’ve listened to this song so many times now that it feels like a word repeated and repeated to the point where it’s lost its meaning, sitting weirdly in your mouth like a mint leaf. Seriously mint leaves, how can you be so furry and also a food? Sort it out. The word is now just a sound and the sound seems foreign because all one can here are the individual phonemes, syllables and all those other pretty words that represents units of sound and so on. And so it is with this song. I’ve listened to it so many times now so as to drain it of its unifying liquids. It’s not just a song now, it’s a collection of stems layered over each other and I can’t help but hear them all individually. This is on me though, let no blame land on this here tune which you’ll soon note is one of the finest things released in recent (and not so recent) memory. Every one of said stems is meticulously crafted and aligned and so it seems, at least so far, that you can’t actually listen to this song too many times.
That voice though… That voice is what’s going to elevate Oscar Key Sung from tastemaker’s
wetdream producer to international pitch-hitter. It’s a voice that’s surprisingly malleable too as demonstrated on Charles Murdoch’s Dekire where his usual heat is replaced by cold ice.
The track itself is more upbeat than anything he’s done under the Key Sung moniker and even his work in Oscar + Martin. For those of who have had the joy to see the live set in action you’ll know that this number is the heart of the performances by virtue of the four on the floor beat, resurgent dance section at the death and what’s likely the closest thing to a drop that you’ll ever hear on an Oscar Key Sung production. The future is nigh and it lives in Melbourne.