I remember when I first heard Gotye‘s debut album Boardface. Admittedly it almost put me to sleep on the first listen, the meandering songs and scratchy, mumbled vocals didn’t do much for a 15 year old who had purchased the album on the merit of future single Heart’s A Mess. Over time (read; several years) I grew quite fond of that record, the overwhelming introspective nature of it and minimalist production earning more respect as the days past. It wasn’t an album for an impatient teenager who was confused about his feelings*.
Time is what I’m getting at here. Albums like this need time to marinate in the brain, to let the over-arching motifs and musical themes seep into your consciousness. That is certainly the case with the self titled debut album from Alyx Dennison, which you can stream below before it’s official release on Mach 27.**
Stream the debut album from Alyx Dennison in full before it’s release. An incredibly bold offering, rich with character, thoughtful songwriting and well balanced production***.
As the long winded introduction indicates, Alyx Dennison is the kind of album that requires time to sink in. Not because it’s hard to digest but because there is so much going on you’d be likely to miss all the parts on the first few listens. I urge you not to listen to this album as is, give it a go in different environments. Play it while you’re driving, while you’re reading your favourite book, while you’re at the gym. Each time the album will reveal a little more of itself to you, it’s complex character disguising itself within the supposedly simple production.
Let’s start there, the production. Alyx Dennison is very slickly produced. Sydney producer David Trumpmanis has definitely put forward some fine work here managing to draw out Dennison’s angelic voice and seamlessly mix it with the ethereal tones of the album. The music featured on Alyx Dennison is rather intense so there could have been a danger of her vocals becoming out of sync with and perhaps overwhelmed by the music. Thankfully the pair have managed to pull together a lush, colourful palette of eight songs that manage to mesmerise and be haunting at the same time.
The range of emotions found on the album is impressive. That probably comes off as a relatively stupid thing to state. Emotions? In music? Get right of town! A lot of musicians contain their emotional wheelhouse to a few select feels, you don’t want to go confuse your listener as to what your about. Dennison manages to inject so much breadth to her emotion which in turn gives each track a unique character.It really feels like a person who is singing these songs, not pre-packed feelings delivered in four minutes with a bow on top.
Take opening behemoth Triptych. True to it’s name, the song breaks down to three parts, though differing from the others they effectively compliment each other. It opens with tenderly plucked guitar accompanied by even more tender vocals before taking on an instrumental section featuring samples and chanting. There’s a beeping sound quite similar to the sound Mother makes in Alien, before transforming once again into an ambient folk inspired piece. There are moments of isolation, elation and contentment all clear throughout the eight minute song.
One could go on and on about the merits of Alyx Dennison but it is best to discover it on your own. Listening to this album is a journey into the unknown. I’d imagine this is what free falling feels like. You just let yourself go and allow the music to creep into your senses. The Dhrupad inspired vocals are hazy, colourful dream, and the you may well find yourself revisiting this album to discover all the subtle gems hidden within.
*Ed. Shay is still very confused about his ‘feelings’
**Note to self: Don’t start album review by talking about a different album.
***Ed. Note to Shay: don’t describe albums like they were bottles of wine.
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