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That old gem; less is more, has never been more true. West Aussie Ned Beckley, who is Lower Spectrum, seems to have realised that fact with his amazing EP New Haze. Off the back of his debut record Traces and single Khlever, this offering was highly anticipated by many, including the bigwigs at triple J, who despite increasingly questionable playlists still manage to promote genuine local talent. Lower Spectrum certainly is that, creating a tidy little record that sits like some kind of sentient structure with every room a new taste of what the promising producer has to offer.
An uncomplicated approach helps lend complexity to Lower Spectrum and his brilliantly deep and diverse EP New Haze. Pure electronic wizardry.
Now, I don’t profess to be the world’s greatest authority on electronic music but I know good shit when I hear it, and with New Haze I get those warm body feelings. It’s clear just on the first listen this man knows a thing or two about getting his composition right. The sounds talk to each other, there’s a conversation going on here, with a clear sense of story and narrative. Less accomplished artists don’t have the knack of telling a tale without lyrics but Lower Spectrum is quickly mastering it with swiftly changing cadences, fluctuating rhythms, beautiful harmonies, and some dark, eerie, creepiness thrown in.
Opener Decompose is a nice example of all of this, altering tack and density multiple times, all the while becoming more urgent, building gracefully but with foreboding to leave us with the sense of an impending event. It’s the perfect way to kick things off.
Masquerade, despite being the single, is the least effective track for me (although it does come with a disturbing and brilliant video). It’s a much lighter, funkier track than what we hear through the rest of the record and at times it seems like it’s meandering rather than plotting a course, something the other songs can’t be accused of.
Tracks like Proxima offer more in terms of energy and narrative even though it seems like a simpler composition. It’s an interesting but unsettling song because the music is so smooth, deep, and fun but the intermittent gospel-like lyrics send it off-kilter, making for a listen that never grows dull.
Beckley’s ability to slowly immerse you into his songs is commendable. To start, you’re intrigued, then actively engaged and finally lost, tangled up in the tendrils he’s wrapped around you without your full knowledge or consent. Catacomb is one such example. A track you think you have figured out as you stand in the light looking in, but just like any tunnel system, one moment of darkness or misplaced turn and you’re gone.
This song takes you away before you even realise you’ve stepped inside. The frightening thing is it doesn’t bring you back but leaves you hanging out in the ether, somewhere unknown, like a carnival ride throwing you out into the inky sky. Faze ends the masterclass in a more downbeat and pretty manner but is again just left of normality with a deep disguised voice telling us about fear and other unintelligible ideas.
New Haze is definitely full of music that manages to transport a listener to a higher plane, something more popular producers like Flume have never been able to do for me. However, if you think more along the lines of Four Tet and Moby you’ll get an idea of what Lower Spectrum can accomplish. At times gorgeous, this sprawling but clearly focused EP obviously has a brilliant kind behind it and is one not to be missed. I highly suggest playing it on repeat a few times to get the best out of it.
To coincide with the release of the New Haze, Lower Spectrum is bringing his haunting live show out on the road – touring nationally on a co headline bill, with Melbourne’s Lucianblombkamp this month, followed by supporting dates with SAFIA throughout May.
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