The ‘The Next James Blake’ label was used for just about every electronic artist in 2011 but Sydney’s Oliver Tank is one who not only meets the high benchmark, but surpasses it to create his own gorgeous niche of down tempo electronica.
The six track EP captures the languid stillness of a summer’s night with sparsely constructed slow burners that linger long after the synth has washed over you. “Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion” is the soaring standout, seeping into your consciousness with an enchanting string arrangement and a layered crescendo that will have you replaying the song endlessly.
Tank’s strong vocals, mostly distorted (but then again, unprocessed vocals are so pre-Pitchfork), feature strongly as do harmonies with Fawn Myers, adding a powerful emotional depth. Featuring high production values and a deft hand at arrangement which belies his youth, it’s no surprise the EP featured on NPR’s 5 Best Bandcamp Albums of 2011 and most certainly heralds Oliver Tank’s arrival as 2012’s Next James Blake.
I Break Horses
It’s time to add this Swedish duo of Maria Lindén and Fredrick Balck alongside meatballs as the Scandinavian country’s greatest exports. In one of the best releases from 2011, Hearts delivers pulsating shoegaze lined with soothing doses of melancholy and heartbreak.
Opening track “Winter Beats” builds on a bed of crisscrossing keyboards and synths yet it is just a precursor to the wall of beautiful, shimmering noise that hits you on the title track, “Hearts”. The swoony synths of “Pulse” and “Wired” are reminiscent of an edgier M83 sound, building into tempestuous storms that lift the spirit and overwhelm the mind.
A constant is the kick drum which beats at the core of this album, and crucially adds movement and power to the woozy guitars and airy vocals. Sure, the formula can get repetitive at times, but with a product so deliciously good, so majestic, nobody’s complaining.