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Nearly Oratorio is better known to his friends as Simon Lam. Lam is an Aussie muso hailing from Melbourne. He’s not just Nearly Oratorio, he is also a part of not one, but two other electronic outfits, KLLO and I’lls. He’s also worked with many other groups, a notable one being The Ocean Party. Tin, his new EP, began originally just with the song – Tin, funny that.
Sometimes cold restraint is the key to capturing attention – and this is exactly what Tin from Nearly Oratorio nails: cold, sparse, yet inviting.
The tune was written over two years ago however it never really worked its way past production stage. It was put on the shelve and then pulled right back off years later when Lam decided to write a body of work to suit. The EP shows not only unhindered talent, but also the abilities of a musician who really knows their shit.
The opening tune I Would Not exudes contemplation. The slow beating piano chords are as crisp as a winter frost upon the grass. And the free time of rhythm is relaxed and emulates a meditative state. Lam sings lightly over the top, and that’s it, voilà, with just two instruments and within about 30 seconds, you’ll feel coaxed into a state of observation. The subject being Lam and his intriguing perspective.
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Tin itself throws in an interesting twist with some oriental harmonies and rhythm. You’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to a quiet Japanese tea room. The metallic percussive bells also give a rather earthly feel, however still quite distant. Veracity has a homely touch to it that no longer makes you feel like you’re looking through a window, but rather quietly sitting in the room. Instead of piano, or electronically produced sounds, it features the acoustic guitar. A constant rhythm of picked chords in a syncopated pattern flows endlessly like a river. Mixed in are some rhythmic harmonies that together with the guitar create a complex mesh of counter rhythms. Although complex, it is still completely calm, and Lam’s sparse, light-as-a-feather vocals bring this into the picture.
Occlude was chosen as a single and for a very good reason. Reason being that irresistible chord progression. It’s rhythmic and fairly spacey but still has plenty of momentum. The chords will hit you in the feels. Your heart will start doing that weird leap-y thing that you might usually get when you see someone to which you have the feels for. Yeah, not for me, all it takes is bloody good chord progression. Lam then sets his producing skills into motion and skilfully pulls all the right sounds into place. Layer upon layer comes the percussion, backing vocals, main vocals and many more unusual sounds.
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Across the EP the percussive backbone features hand-beaten drums, perhaps African influenced. The pattern resembles this and it is not overdone, but instead adds the perfect amount of exoticism. Handheld shakers, drum kit, electric guitar – each part fades in and out seamlessly, you’ll notice they’re there but won’t really notice they’ve left until they re-enter – it’s haunting. The EP finishes just as beautifully as it starts with a ballad featuring just piano and vocals. The slow and free movement’s of the piano and voice together wash over a sense of calm. It’s reflective and emotional, sultry and full of depth. Lam delivers the vocals in a way that make it easy to not listen to the lyrics, but rather just sit and join him, no longer just a mere observer, but as an acquaintance sharing a moment.