Pity any artist, particularly an Aussie local, trying to release music in a week in which Prince has passed over and a Queen has reascended the throne. The nature of collected conversations, bunched tightly across news and personal feeds, means that you’d be forgiven for thinking that we are unofficially in The Month Of The Purple One and Beyonce. Surprise releases (and unfortunate deaths) can lead to a strange phenomenon in today’s fragmented audience model, where you viably have thousands -if not millions – of people listening intently to the same thing at the same time. Our generation may spend less time with radio, but we’re still suckers for tentpole releases, just like we are for Marvel films. So let’s have a breather. Let’s do a rinse from the hyperbole and hysteria, the death and divorce and focus on an up and coming Sydney-sider who put out a song this week interesting enough to stop me listening to Lemonade.
We’ve got lots of smart, talented young women singing over synthesisers in this country, something Charmain Kingston, the creative force behind BUOY, has obviously picked up on. While her previous body of work focused on the smoky, downtempo vibe that frankly has been done to death by everyone from Banks to George Maple, she’s had a change of heart on her new material and is all the better for it. ‘Clouds and Rain’ starts off sounding like Sarah Blasko, both tonally and harmonically, long solitary notes offset by Kingston’s deceptively cold open on vocals. But it transforms quickly, picking up pace into a double time beat that’s probably as close to garage as you’ll get outside of Brixton, with a rising melodic arc to meet it.
What I think is fresh here is the way BUOY builds herself into her beat, co-engineered by writers Jack Grace and Christopher Port, rather than simply using it as a base. As it grows from electronic to live drums, her lines blip in and out, twisting and taking on new textures as they sputter back out into the groove. You’d think this sort of yanking would be unnerving to the listener, but if anything, it’s intriguing. What is essentially one or two chord progression manages to spiral out into a syncopated landscape with plenty of space between the rhythmic and melodic parts. It uses every inch of its five or so minutes to great effect, plucking and repositioning brass blasts, snare and xylophone hits into a really neat tapestry. Best of all, it reintroduces BUOY as someone to take note of, not just as a diversion, but as a real point of interest.