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Album Review: Dawn Golden ‘Still Life’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on July 8, 2014

Dexter Tortoriello, better known as one half of dream-pop duo, Houses, has been in touch with his experimental side recently. Working under the name Dawn Golden, he has released his debut album after three long years of work, Still Life; a quietly beautiful album that highlights Tortoriello’s promise as solo artist and shows he is capable of making some pretty sweet tunes. Oh, and it’s been released via Diplo’s Mad Decent label too.

Blissed out and relaxed, Still Life is haunting and filled with forlorn sentiments about love, addiction and death. It’s the perfect album to unwind to with an alcoholic beverage after a shitty day. It delves deep into your own past, digs up a whole lot of crap, but caresses you whilst doing so. Tortoriello’s stark and minimal approach to this sub-genre of electronic music is refined, and some of his production value can be attributed to Diplo’s close watch over him. Three years in the making, Still Life doesn’t stray too far from Houses, but is a visual and emotive body of work that shows Tortoriello in a very real and very personal light.

Clear stand out, and personal favourite, ‘All I Want’ is heavy, with it’s minimal hooks and muted R&B vibes. Tortoriello’s stripped back vocals singing to his lover about lost youth compliments the bedroom electronics so well, with neither aspect overpowering the other. As the song builds to the crescendo, with the same lyrics, “’Coz you’re all that, you’re all that I want” pleading over the keys, you’re really starting to get pulled into the record. ‘I Won’t Bend’ is skittering and relentless, followed by ‘Swing’, which pairs Dawn Golden’s penchant for vocal editing and distorted beats, and makes for one of the best songs on the album.

Melancholic and textured, Dexter Tortoriello has begun to come into his own as a solo artist and solo producer. His lyrics are powerful and harrowing, and his knack for knowing just how much to give is what makes this album really shine. Even in the somewhat less impressive points, there is still that glimmer of something special happening. Let’s just hope that in another three years, we’ll get to continue this emotional and aural journey!


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