Introducing: Spirit Faces

Over-saturation encourages experimentation, and resourcefulness springs from scarcity. These two statements are true of the music of Pete Covington, who, when going by the name Spirit Faces, crafts music that’s both resourceful and experimental. As Covington is a musician living in Sydney, I can safely assume that there are probably not thousands to spare for Prophet 12 Synthesizers, Ableton Push Midi Pads or top-of-the-line plugins and software. What I do know is that you don’t need to drop 10 Gs to create a decent track, and that in a music industry that’s increasingly feeling as overcrowded as Papa vs Pretty were in that one video, it’s the songs that actually do something with what they’ve got that really matter.

Spirit Faces

Burgeoning Sydney talent Spirit Faces’ artistry is mature, innovative and touching.

So why is Spirit Faces one of them – one of the musicians who actually matters? A cursory (or, ideally, less than cursory) listen to Covington’s debut single Hurts Less Than Heartbreak answers this question in just under three minutes. Sure, perhaps it’s not a track that you’ll hear wedged between two pop songs on a commercial station, but there’s an undeniable artistry that does a lot with very little, and the fact that fellow Sydney electronic tinkerers Tales in Space and Lanterns have left their love for the track on Soundcloud should be indicative of the level of talent we’re dealing with here. In any case, Heartbreak achieves a great deal with what is essentially just a piano, a budget microphone, and an unexpected synthesizer that adds a third – maybe even a fourth and fifth – dimension to this track.

Following on from Heartbreak is the single Hold It Down. Maybe by this point, if you’re listening along, you’ve reached an internal conclusion on Spirit Faces, thinking to yourself ‘Oh, I get it. His music is like a stripped back 808s and Heartbreak without the burgeoning ego.’ There are definitely a host of similarities between the two tracks, but if you think you’ve got the music of Pete Covington figured out, you might want to think again.

Cloudplay is a game-changer. First off, it features vocals by Sydney’s own BUOY (also known by her birth name Charmian Kingston); if you haven’t heard her tunes yet, you should a) do that, then b) join me in the agonising wait for more music from this talent. The word intimate gets bandied around far too much in the music industry, and is quite often used incorrectly, but BUOY’s vocals really are so close to you, so near, and so unapologetically raw that there’s an innate intimacy right from the opening line ‘What is going on?’ in this track. Then there’s the instrumental arrangement, all written and performed by Covington.

There’s a 600+ word article waiting to be penned about all the different elements going on in Cloudplay, but the highlights would have to be the stammering snares, the affected guitars, the dry square bass and the scrupulously employed glockenspiel that contributes only when needed, never to the point of excess or indulgence. Like a further exploration of ideas in Montaigne’s I’m A Fantastic Wreck, the dual chaos and symmetry of Cloudplay encourages and rewards multiple listens, and further showcases Covington’s songwriting chops beyond his previous piano-heavy releases.

The third, and most ambitious track from Spirit Faces yet, Cloudplay is the latest cut from Covington’s debut EP Bedroom Music, due for release early in 2015 through TEEF Records, a label by fellow music blogger Tommy Faith (Sound Doctrine). With three tracks under his belt so far, Pete Covington’s distinct songwriting abilities and instrumental finesse make him one of the most captivating artists to come out of Sydney in 2014, and one to follow closely in the year to come.

Catch Spirit Faces supporting Japanese Wallpaper alongside the aforementioned Montaigne at Newtown Social Club on December 14.



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