I have found 2015 to be a strange time to be an active music lover. Perhaps the strangest thing is that even while we’re faced with unlimited choice with streaming and whatnot, many kids are still taking directives from a few select curators. Whether life is just getting too stressful or selection is too hard first thing in the morning, musical aggregators like Majestic Casual and their ilk (honestly, a new one pops up every day) are commanding a lot of the dialogue about what’s the best music to hang out – or tune out – to. It’s an approach that has made some Australian outfits move onto a global platform from a largely local base, and transformed remixers into artists in response to a relentless volley of thumbs up. I bring this up mainly because Vallis Alps, a duo whose manager I happen to know, is the kind of act I could have very easily encountered on a YouTube Channel that strips out the dull parts of being autonomous. That’s why I picked a song you might not have heard after the first one got thrashed around the web, because really promising artists are more than just one song in a playlist.
A formerly international duo now (sensibly) headquartered in Sydney, Vallis Alps do two things extremely well; melody and sonics. It’s this combination that turned ‘Young’, their breakout hit, into such a palatable success. Feather-light vocals over a strong electronic bed has worked wonders for everyone from The xx to our own Flight Facilities. Perhaps what you wouldn’t expect from either of those acts is a second half flip that turns this former ballad into a Jersey bounce track that’s closer to Lido or Wave Racer than it is to those aforementioned acts. Half-time grooves, jersey breaks and, let’s just put it out there, Flume synths, arrive quickly and then meld with the bones of the track to create an entirely new beast. It’s very unexpected (well, not for you if you’ve read this far) but very cool.
Perhaps indicative of an act that created an EP without living together, my favourite thing about Vallis Alps is their use of space. Even when they’re using quite a few layers, there’s this sense of isolation between vocals and instruments that’s refreshing, especially as the vocalist doesn’t try to fill that vacuum with reverb as we saw so many times in alternative electronic female artists in the last twelve months. At only four songs, the whole of Vallis Alps is full of quiet pockets like this. It’s a collection that sounds like taking your time, which you should do with them.
The next thing will still be there in half an hour.