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Upset! The Rhythm - UTR136
THE GREEN CHILD is the once long-distance, now based in the same house recording project of Raven Mahon (furniture maker and former member of Grass Widow) and Mikey Young (recording engineer and band member of Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring). The duo draw their spectral pop sound from an illusory past as much as they advance into pastures new. Broadly retro-futuristic in scope, verdant acres of lushly evocative synthesizers and vintage drum machines underpin most of The Green Child's upbeat yet decidedly uncanny songs. Raven's calmly scenic and measured vocal flits like a will-o'-the-wisp throughout the tracks, proffering a guiding hand as she walks us through the often eerie electronic concoctions.
With the advent of Raven moving from California to live with Mikey in Australia, The Green Child was reborn in the basement studio of their beachy, house on stilts in the seaside town of Rye, just an hour south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. This change of circumstances for the duo resulted in the band's new album 'Shimmering Basset' sounding more assured than their self-titled debut of 2018. With ideas permitted the time to grow and develop close at hand, the group were able to realise the whole record as a body of work, tying together themes, meeting challenges. Raven explains further, "it feels more cohesive because over the year or so in which we wrote these songs I started to feel a desire to take the lyric writing part more seriouslyâ€¦ my head is rooted in this new place now and that's settled into the songwriting." The songs collected on 'Shimmering Basset' are concerned with life after relocation and deal with distance and staying connected.
'Fashion Light' conjures up a brilliance from the first few sparks of the album, spinning dizzy dots of synth melody into a classy slice of avant-pop. Rolling live drums (courtesy of Shaun Gionis) and tuneful iridescence pan back and forth as Raven coolly intones "dark console, flashing lights, rigid stance, it's alright to go on and on this way." The song opening up a map of attractions, drawing connections together. 'Low Desk: High Shelf' follows in likewise sprightly mode. Glancing synths criss-cross, worthy of OMD, echoing off the straight-up beat, allowing Raven's collected vocal to stitch its haunted path: "see the face and feel your body sway, in voluntary walk, intoxicating view, take it home, a photograph, a file final form, a token for the shelf or waitâ€¦"
A floating kick drum sets off the shivery flurries of sound on 'Witness', featuring bristling electronic percussion from James Vinciguerra. 'The Installation' is a song about interacting with the dimensions of a new environment. Blossoming basslines and saxophone blushes sweep through its relaxed atmosphere. 'Tony Bandana' makes a break for it as a rock song, bestilled pauses and swirling breaks of beatpop psych however certainly shake up first impressions.
The Green Child acknowledge an interesting array of musical cues from New Musik via Sade to Hot Chocolate, the latter most keenly felt on the slinky groove behind 'Dreamcom'. Clockwork sequencing, drawbar organ amid bouncing guitar spirals and a lightness of vocal touch make for a potent potion. The duo cover 'Resurrection' by Canadian 60's popsmith Andy Kim later on the record, turning his orchestral 'hymn of searching' into a grandiose tower of overlapping drones, languid vocal reverb and strummed chords. Meanwhile, 'Health Farm' is awash with questing keyboard melodies, its notes speeding into each other like Boards Of Canada with the legato ramped up.
'Double Lines' draws this fascinating album to an end, seeping into the room like an apparition. It slowly gathers itself into pools of notes and a rubbery bassline, letting Raven's voice ebb and flow like a half-remembered desire book-ended in ambience. The Green Child have really climbed a ladder with 'Shimmering Basset', delivering a robust album of compelling melody, expanded vision and melancholic grandeur.
'Shimmering 'Basset is due for release this October through Upset The Rhythm, accompanied by a spirited painting by Anna Savage on its cover.
Low Desk : High Shelf