Sound Bites

Down Under electronica musicians come up tops

A trio of moody electronica Australian musicians Chet Faker, Vancouver Sleep Clinic (above) and RY X are creating a buzz. -- PHOTOS: DOWNTOWN/LOVE DA MUSIC, SELF-RELEASED, DUMONT DUMONT
A trio of moody electronica Australian musicians Chet Faker, Vancouver Sleep Clinic (above) and RY X are creating a buzz. -- PHOTOS: DOWNTOWN/LOVE DA MUSIC, SELF-RELEASED, DUMONT DUMONT
A trio of moody electronica Australian musicians Chet Faker, Vancouver Sleep Clinic and RY X (above) are creating a buzz. -- PHOTOS: DOWNTOWN/LOVE DA MUSIC, SELF-RELEASED, DUMONT DUMONT
A trio of moody electronica Australian musicians Chet Faker, Vancouver Sleep Clinic and RY X (above) are creating a buzz. -- PHOTOS: DOWNTOWN/LOVE DA MUSIC, SELF-RELEASED, DUMONT DUMONT
A trio of moody electronica Australian musicians Chet Faker (above), Vancouver Sleep Clinic and RY X are creating a buzz. -- PHOTOS: DOWNTOWN/LOVE DA MUSIC, SELF-RELEASED, DUMONT DUMONT
A trio of moody electronica Australian musicians Chet Faker (above), Vancouver Sleep Clinic and RY X are creating a buzz. -- PHOTOS: DOWNTOWN/LOVE DA MUSIC, SELF-RELEASED, DUMONT DUMONT

There is something brewing in Australia with the rise of a new brigade of moody electronica musicians like Chet Faker, RY X and Vancouver Sleep Clinic.

Koalas, kangaroos and Sydney Opera House - such images are often conjured up when Singaporeans think of Australia.

Now add "groundbreaking electronica musicians" to the mix.

A cavalcade of thin white dudes Down Under are coming your way - and while it's foolhardy to draw a connection among them, one thing's clear: They are creating some of this year's most restlessly adventurous records so far.

Chet Faker, known to his mum and dad as Nick Murphy, is a 24-year-old Melburnian whose claim to fame is a cover of American R&B group Blackstreet's No Diggity which went viral in 2011.

His nom de disque may sound snarky, but it's really a tribute to Chet Baker, the iconic jazz trumpeter whose soulful, fragile vocals he admires.

Murphy's own croon, in comparison, is grit basted in liquid gold.

His full-album debut, Built On Glass, is released on Future Classic, an independent label based in Redfern, New South Wales, which also releases the debut by Flume, a rising chillstep star from Sydney.

Murphy's music is an alchemy of contemporaneous strands, a confluence of jazz funk, alternative R&B/soul and indie electronica, and 1990s-styled down-tempo.

He reminds one of a less tortured James Vincent McMorrow from Ireland; or a slower Daniel Woolhouse, aka English indie-electronic act Deptford Goth.

It's all about pacing. Serpentine horns preface the single Talk Is Cheap as his voice slides through the sax. It feels like you're entering a dank Tangier spa, until the beats trot in ponderously.

"So help me help you start it/you're too comfortable to know/throwing out those words, no/you've gotta feel it on your own" goes the refrain. Voice is part of his armoury, and he treats it as a stepping stone to reach Arcadia.

In No Advice (Airport Version), an Eno-esque interlude, his voice is multi-tracked to staggering effect.

Melt combines the chilled-out vibe of the Ibiza records his father owns, with the soulful sincerity he's imbibed from American acts.

New York artist Kilo Kish raps coolly over burping beats and simmering bass - imagine TLC as produced by Massive Attack.

Just as the album title suggests, his music slips between genres, and ricochets off surfaces like a clear conscience.

From the coastal town of Angourie in New South Wales comes another slippery creature: Ry Cuming, who goes by the stage name of RY X.

The Los Angeles-based tenor flaunts a falsetto that could scrape heavens like his hero Jeff Buckley. The music is a bolt of melancholy blues played over piano and synths.

His Berlin EP signals a nascent talent who could well be the Antipodean answer to Bon Iver; as comfortable in a cavern as it is in a concert hall.

How his falsetto soars over gentle strums in the title track, and dives in Vampires, a delicious power- play imbued with cymbals, percolating synths and spluttering drums.

The last of the trio is Tim Bettinson, a talented 17-year-old Brisbane native who goes by the moniker Vancouver Sleep Clinic.

Influenced by Bon Iver and Sigur Ros, he sounds like a love child of both, folky and techno at the same time.

He's released two songs so far, Collapse and Vapour, but boy, what beautiful songs they are.

Collapse trips along like an R&B ballad recast as a cathedral elegy as his voice weaves its own spell. Vapour shimmers as morning sun reflected on placid ocean, guitars and synths fluttering like birds.

Then, his voice comes in, adrift, a lost choirboy's.


The directory st_data_migration/201404/20140417 has been created.

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Pop/R&B/soul

A PERFECT CONTRADICTION

Paloma Faith

RCA/Sony

** 1/2

You don't go to Paloma Faith for funky minimalism, but who wouldn't want to work with Pharrell Williams these days?

The Happy maestro simply has the mojo - he manages to steer the perfectly coiffed London singer into a stripped-down funky groove in the wonderful single Can't Rely On You. It sounds supremely current and catchy as hell.

Problem is, it goes downhill from there. Faith struts and prances and does all her retro-soul shtick, but none of it moves like what Amy Winehouse could do.

Her vocals are imperious nonetheless, not least in the break-up ballad Only Love Can Hurt Like This. Hear the rafters shake. A storm thunders, like catharsis.

ST 20140417 KCSOUND17 AVICI 238562m

Dance/country/rock/folk/soul

TRUE - AVICII BY AVICII

Avicii

PRMD/Universal Island

***

Already, Aloe Blacc has gone supernova, all thanks to his guest spot on Avicii's mega-single Wake Me Up.

The Swedish progressive- house DJ Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii, is now ready to spin you into a tizzy with a remix album of his smash debut.

Wake Me Up is now a pounding thumper with Blacc's vocals tossed about like a pinball, with barely a few guitar strums left. Danish singer Karen Marie Orsted, or Mo, still purrs sweetly in Dear Boy, but the music is a breathless techno hoe-down.

Everything is revved up to combat fatigue, and you dance, out of lethargy, into the morning after.

kaichai@sph.com.sg


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Albums of the week

Electronica/soul

BUILT ON GLASS

Chet Faker

Downtown/Future Classic/Love Da Music

****

ST 20140417 KCSOUND17 RYX 238567m

Indie rock

BERLIN EP

RY X

Infectious

****

ST 20140417 KCSOUND177JTR 238543m

Electronica

COLLAPSE & VAPOUR SINGLES

Vancouver Sleep Clinic

Self-released

****

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