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PREMIERE: Captain Earwax’s Volcano Toast is a spiralling sonic universe

Sydney-based laidback groove connoisseur Captain Earwax has a knack for crafting rich kaleidoscopic aural landscapes with his unique brand of electronica. He balances live acoustic sounds, field recordings, handheld percussion, warm analog synth tones and a plethora of quirky noise-making toys to manifest an intricate, glitchy, and melody-driven sound that engulfs the listener.

His latest album Volcano Toast is a stunning masterwork of dense, intricate, and texturally gorgeous instrumental beats, combined with the periodic use of vocalists that transform his ideas into pop-infused downtempo electronica delights.

Photo: Nicole Reed

Captain Earwax crafts a variety of lush sonic soundscape on his new album Volcano Toast; a seamlessly crafted long listener that will engulf you from start to finish.

Captain Earwax is the musical moniker of Australian interdisciplinary artist Daniel O’Toole, who’s musical works stem from his background in ’90s Boom Bap production and vinyl-plus-hardware sampling. Built upon a passion for natural and earthly sounds, his music blends influences from folk, jazz, glitch, dub, and hip-hop to build a broad global palette of instruments of textures.

The fourth album from the Sydney solo artist, Volcano Toast, makes reference to the absurd dichotomy of daily modern life in a capitalist paradigm. One one hand, our planet is fragile, cracking under immense pressure from global warming, and human-caused destruction of the natural environment. On the other hand, Western people continue their day to day eat-work-sleep-repeat drudgery again and again.

This type of juxtaposition is the weaving thread connecting the album as Earwax places seemingly opposing things together to find unexpected harmonies. Skin Cells (feat. Melody Laffy) is rich in this display of unique sonic pairing, blending Rhodes, marimba, rubbery synth bass and Björk-inspired glitch with rich chamber pop vocals. It’s a lovely, floating piece, that’s a gorgeous middle ground between Bonobo‘s Surface (ft. Nicole Miglis) and Maribou State‘s Midas.

Earwax’s unique brand of ambient world electronica shines through in this album, as he blends and amplitude of traditional and modern percussive elements, as well as ancient and tribal samples that create subtly jungle-driven tunes.

On Cloud Steppe, he combines ancient Mongolian folk music alongside the chunky bass tones out of the dusty-but-not-yet-ancient Minimoog Model-D synth. On Sky Burial, he features the kora – an African harp played by Julian Bel-Bachir – layered upon dreamy synth chords, thick percussive layers, reverb-heavy guitar, tumbling claps and clicks, all underpinned by softly squelching bass.

Volcano Toast is some of Captain Earwax’s most evocative work, it’s a lush, wistful, and moody ride that tugs on the heartstrings rather than the feet. His distinct vibe of break-beats and tribal grooves are delicately woven with lush layers of bright soundscapes, creating a varied yet cohesive range of tracks that make it a seamlessly crafted album that engulfs the listener from start to finish.

The soundscsape storytelling of Volcano Toast is what sets it apart from Earwax’s previous work, it demonstrates his building musical maturity, alongside fresh vocal collaborations from Melody Laffy and FREDE, as well as long-time collaborators Lou Millar and Amy Kisnorbo.

Captain Earwax will be holding an exhibition and listening party at Happy Studios on Thursday the 10th of October, showcasing his visual artworks alongside the new album, find out more here.

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September 18, 2019