Thursday, 5 June 2014

Jaket - Denim EP


Is it a typo? Or something more sinister? Either way, the Grammar police have been onto it.

This is Andrew Crowe's "Jaket". The bad spelling at least ensures his Soundcloud page is the top result in a Google search.

Andrew is a pop musician based on the NSW Central Coast. A recent graduate of the Sydney chapter of the Australian Institute of Music, this is his debut EP, entitled "Denim". This one was crowd-funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

From the outset, it's a striking piece. The CD (remember those?) features a beautiful (faux-) denim-clad digipak cover with hand-drawn cartoonish graphics. It appears simple enough, but what's within is another thing entirely...

Musically, there is a lot to take in. A single listen doesn't do this justice. It takes a few listens to dig through the dense layers of heavily synthesized sounds in order to get to the songs. But, in this reviewers opinion, that's a good thing. It leaves the listener plenty of scope to discover something new with each repeated playing.

Starting off, "Good Man" kicks off with 808-thin drums and gurgling synths, before working its way to a chorus featuring Destx. One thing is for sure, Andrew has selected an amazing supporting cast of female vocalists. Destx has a timbre to her voice that reminds me somewhat of Stevie Nicks. The song itself has a very simple structure, ensuring the song doesn't outstay its welcome. But if he ever gets a band happening to play these songs live, the song has plenty of room for growth and expansion.

Track 2, "Cool Kids" has some strange, pitch-altered vocals to kick things off, adding a retro-futurist vibe to the proceedings. Guest vocalist Elaska's voice floats elegantly above the subtle arrangement. Her involvement is sadly limited by the arrangement, which allows the synths to dominate however.

Track 3, "Super Love" sees Andrew give his own voice a treatment that suggests he's been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn". A cool idea, but I feel it strips the tune of a compelling melody it so desperately lacks. Guest vocalist Lucy Lowe makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance.

Track 4, "You See The Sky" has achieved some notoriety on the ABC's digital radio station Triple J Unearthed, picking up more than a few plays and heaps of good reviews. And why shouldn't it? It's a fun summer jam. And Claryssa Tolentino's crystal clear voice sparkles against some twinkly percussive effects throughout.

The jewel in the crown of this record, however is the two-part "Darkness To Sun". Part 1 sees Andrew indulging himself in his beloved synths, creating a piece that wouldn't be out of place on side two of David Bowie's "Heroes" (in fact, it would probably brighten up an otherwise bleak set of songs). Part 2 strips back the synths and lets the music breathe in an arrangement that emphasises space. It gives the vocal line room to shine. It's another worthy summer jam and a great way to end this compelling release.

Andrew has a bright future in music ahead of him. Definitely one to watch, it'll be interesting to see where his music takes him. Bring on the next batch of tunes, Andrew!

Take a listen to the record below and leave a comment telling us what you think. Available on iTunes, Google Play and Bandcamp.


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