New Music

Step through the wardrobe into the prog fantasy land of Palace Winter

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Take the famed complementary nature of sun and rain, throw in the idea that opposites attracts, and Aussie/Danish duo Palace Winter sound set for a kind of symbiotic, proverbial success. Though on second thoughts, sun and snow might be more apt. Not only combining their disparate geographical backgrounds, Palace Winter also brings together different music influences.

Positron

Indie rock with a psych edge and plenty of dramatic flair, Palace Winter impress with Positron. Not to be confused with the White Queen’s place of residence.

Comprised of Australian singer / songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish producer and pianist Caspar Hesselager, the pair have been writing together since 2014. A relationship born out of the tedium of a bus journey through Hesselager’s native Denmark, both musicians started sending each other snippets of songs and inspiration. An exchange that gradually coalesced into a more concrete sound that brought together Coleman’s guitar-grounded songwriting with Hesselager’s classical piano and electronic edge.

Having already already hit the top spot on Hype Machine’s Popular chart with their track Menton, from their debut EP Medication (2014), this year will see the release of Palace Winter’s first LP.

Currently scheduled for release in June, under the title Waiting For The World To Turn, Coleman explains how themes of restlessness, tension and sleep play into their writing; “When you’re sleeping you’re at your most vulnerable as the mind wanders off while your body stays put. It is a feeling of the world standing still, and you’re just lying there waiting for it to turn”.

Now the duo have given us a taste of what’s to come with their new track Positron, shared earlier this month. Recorded at Hesselager’s studio, Pinligtavshed in Copenhagen, the pair oversaw everything from writing through to recording, with production by Hesselager. Leaving drums to Christian Rindorf, every other element comes directed by Coleman and Hesselager.

On first listen, Palace Winter makes an excellent play for a nice piece of psych-tinged indie pop. Swirling electronics and a fade-in acoustic guitar, plus a very Zutons-esque opening riff. Carried along by a perky beat and an incredibly hooky vocal line, the classicism almost falls as a textbook piece of indie writing. But on closer inspection, the threads of the piece start to weave into something with far more texture than expected.

A kind of neo-classical arpeggio on the bridge, from an electronic strings section, lends an 80s tone and subtle harmonies round out the vocal sound. The insistent strumming stills carries the track, offering up a solid foundation for Hesselager’s production to play off and spin around.

Running a gauntlet at six minutes, Positron really shakes off the idea of indie brights towards its finale. A Hesselager puts it; “Positron is a positive upbeat tune with an underlying darker theme which is expressed in the slow nightmare-like outro of the song”.

Unravelling into a majestic, slow beat outro by way of a very retro electric guitar, echoing 80s stadium beats and swirling synths lift up their voices as part of a cosmic fanfare. It’s a bit like listening to a Pink Floyd live show descending to an underwater world. Laser show melodies surface out of the pulsating orchestra of electronics with a theatricality that may give Queen a run for their money.

If Positron begins on a similarly bright feel to what we’ve heard from Palace Winter previously, this impressive expansion of their soundscape is a tantalising promise of what we might expect from their debut album. Now based in Copenhagen for the foreseeable future, aside from confirmed European dates, the duo assured me that an Australian tour is an idea that they are keen on.

Whether I’m infected with the prog fantasy of Positron, or whether I’m simply jonesing for the full experience, it is definitely destined for the darkness and spotlights of a live performance. But until then, I would settle for a really decent pair of vintage speakers and the curtains drawn.

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