If you count yourself to be 35 years old or under, then Dappled Cities were dipping into the world of music right as you were probably dipping into your first beer. Whatever stage of life you’re in, tracing back the years no doubt causes those trusty rose-tinted glasses to slip down from their perch on your forehead.
And the nostalgia flows. It’s what a huge cohort of modern bands hope for; to illicit a daydream sensation of times fled by in their music. Yet unlike the slew of emerging indie rockers we’re currently becoming familiar with, Dappled Cities aren’t attempting simple recreation of a world they didn’t experience.
The ‘times gone by’ are etched into their being, they’re part of the musical lineage others strive for. And it’s more apparent than ever on their fifth full-length, the aptly titled IIIII.
Fresh out of a Byron Bay recording session and 18 years of indie pedigree, IIIII is the diamond-shiny culmination of everything Dappled Cities has ever striven to be.
Pronounced as ‘five’, IIII not only represents the latest in a long line of Dappled Cities releases, but also a five year gap in recording. Such a drought between releases has been known to phase bands in the past, as the weight of overbearing expectation begins to settle on one’s shoulders.
For Dappled cities, the gap was more like time off, a period of heady recuperation which saw them reach new heights of chill.
“We’re so much more relaxed about things. Previously we’d be all nervous about singles and clips and all the guff that comes with a record release. Now we just know, if you make something good, people will find it.”
It’s an agreeable and mature attitude to have, and one that plenty of the world’s musicians can’t seem to grip. Results-driven mentalities can often overpower the creative spark a project thrives on, and IIIII is an album gleaming with golden, honest integrity start to finish.
To reinforce their laid-back stratagem in crafting IIIII, Dappled Cities took to Australia’s capital of “take it easy”, Byron Bay.
“We wanted to make the recording like a holiday. When it came to thinking of where to go, we thought, where’s more holidayish than Byron? Bali obviously. But Byron’s closer and Dave got a sweet hook up with 301.”
“We’ve always loved big old studios with nice wooden live rooms. Once you set up the drum kit and put it through the desk, you get that instant feeling of excitement because it sounds like a record. Like Fleetwood Mac. Or My Morning Jacket.”
Dappled Cities’ recent carefree inclinations feed into IIIII in no small fashion, an opulent and lackadaisical craftsmanship worming its way around the album’s backbone. Radio friendly singles That Sound and Stone Men bring forth pop perfection, yet they’re handily counterbalanced by more relaxed, lounge room numbers like Everything Ever and the fluently titled Weightless.
While the record is uniformly cohesive and excellent, there is a duality in the writing and production. The explanation is simple.
“There’s never a central theme to our records. With two song writers you are always going to have a pretty divergent set of ideas. Dave and I found that we were both writing about the chaos our world is in. Nothing new there I guess.”
“Add to that a healthy dose of lyrics about being alone, feeling satisfied or worrying about your place in the world, and you have a classic Dappled album.”
Business as usual then. Who doesn’t love a track underpinned with some casual imbalance or existential uncertainty?
With a return to the world of recorded music comes a return to the world of live music, and the Dappled gentlemen are well and truly psyched to get back to the stage. While they previewed their new cuts at a Sydney listening party last night, the band’s biggest concert dates are dead ahead.
We asked them if there were any tunes in particular they were ready to hum out to an audience.
“Spacechild is so chill and lush. I can’t wait to play that live. And Weightless is also really exciting. Having always played wild, busy songs, it’s thrilling to play songs that sit in a quieter pocket. And the vocal harmonies are killer.”
And of their upcoming Vivid gig at the fantastical City Recital Hall, Dappled Citites were hardly close lipped. Don’t tell anyone I published this.
“Let’s say it’s a secret between you and me. We’re putting on one hell of a light show (it’s vivid after all) and we’re tying in a bunch of video material from our whole visual history into a monumental stage set focused on the five bars image from the album. It’ll be like a Roman spectacle, cast in neon with hallucinogenic imagery floating across the stage.”
Catch Dappled Cities live on the following dates. IIIII is out now.
SAT 6 MAY | HOWLER, MELBOURNE, VIC
FRI 12 MAY | THE FOUNDRY, BRISBANE, QLD
SUN 4 JUNE | CITY RECITAL HALL, SYDNEY, NSW