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Silverchair – Diorama

Silverchair’s music has taken a deeper, grandeur approach. Structured in orchestral arrangements, Diorama is an ambitious attempt that on most counts has succeeded sufficiently.

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Perhaps Silverchair’s latest offering, Diorama is their most aptly titled. The two meanings given to the word ‘Diorama’ are:

1. A three-dimensional miniature or life-size scene in which figures, stuffed wildlife, or other objects are arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background. 

2. A scene reproduced on cloth transparencies with various lights shining through the cloths to produce changes in effect, intended for viewing at a distance through an aperture.

We highlight the phrase “arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background.” And like so, from the opening moments of “Across the Night” you begin to feel as if Silverchair have set their latest musical offering to a vast background of a more surreal surrounding. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Pro Musica Sydney orchestra plays a large part on this disc or the realization that the once angst filled, brittle mesh of Nirvana meets Alice in Chains grunge leanings are all but gone – Silverchair have certainly grown in leaps and bounds since the days of “Israel’s Son” and “Tomorrow”. Replacing them are the more sophisticated sounds of “The Greatest View”, replete with a more melodic, pop influenced chorus and the piano filled ending “After All These Years”.

One can say that lead singer and primary song writer Daniel Johns has been through quite a lot in the past few years. His battle with health issues documented best in his previous work, (2000’s Neon Ballroom) and revealed in tracks like “Ana’s Song” are replaced with a slightly less personal stance of love’s lost and diatribe about the upper class. Previous more straight forward melodies and arrangements (like the simplistic beauty that was “Miss You Love”) are now more fleshed out, complicated and without doubt, far more orchestral.

Some may find this plunge into grandeur a little misguided, their songs aren’t as simple and pop accessible as before – but most will see the remarkable growth of the band from the days of looking like a rejected Nirvana promo shoot to a more complete musical entity. Lyrically, Silverchair were never one to wax poetic, and Johns doesn’t come off any different this time around coining lyrics like “Thrust the candle to the dark of your disease / Burn the fishplate execute ill memories”. Maybe it’s the whole grunge band lyric thing in which they began their careers but Johns does manage to write something more heartfelt in arguably the finest Silverchair track to date in “Without You”. Beautifully moving and blissfully sincere, it certainly feels like an ordinary life painted on a much more magnificent background.

Whether you view this from a distance or up close, it’s clear to see that Silverchair’s music has taken a deeper, grandeur approach. Structured in orchestral arrangements, Diorama is an ambitious attempt that on most counts has succeeded sufficiently.

(Atlantic Records)

Reviews

Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars

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Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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