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EP Review: The Kite String Tangle, ‘Vessel’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on August 12, 2014

Words by Jack Bartlett

Brisbane’s Danny Harley aka The Kite String Tangle has been in the media spotlight since last year, with breakout single Given the Chance placing in the top 20 of the 2013 Hottest 100. In turn, his debut EP Vessel quickly became one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and it has certainly lived up to the hype.

Each song stands on its own, gushing with airplay potential – and second single Arcadia has been doing just that, enjoying regular Triple J rotation, on top of more than 350 000 listens on Soundcloud. In Greek mythology Arcadia was an unattainable utopia, so you can sense the meaning behind lines such as “You were trying to make it work / You were sleeping in my shirt / Sometimes thing don’t come full circle.”

The track’s slow bass and soulful vocals carry it along, but can’t prepare you for What if. The track sounds like the lovechild of a church organ, muted bass and Caribbean steel drums. It’s a musical layer cake, managing to occasionally push the vocals to the backseat. The track ends abruptly and unfairly, just as you’re getting seduced by it. Four minutes disappeared, or rather collapsed unnoticed; another ten still wouldn’t have been long enough.

You’re a fly on the wall listening to an argument between lovers when Stone Cold comes around. There is a different tempo as each of the lovers speak, almost as if they’re speaking a different language. Does this reflect their failing relationship or is it indicative of an unrefined track? Featuring Tiana Khasi, it is the weak link on the EP as the chorus channels the dark days of early 2000s radio pop mixed with IDM.

Words opens with the touch of a piano in reverse, teasing as it builds up softly with echoing guitar, a drum, and a clap, into something eerie but beautiful, slow but affecting. A wailing siren precedes the verse, warning of an emotional emergency mere moments before everything erupts into chaos. You’re encircled by the sound and there’s no escape.

The first single doesn’t waste time hooking you. With a hint of Flume, Given the Chance is an anthem ripe for remixing. Muted yet powerful synth beats add depth as a distressed voice in the background underscores the dreamlike but emphatic piece. The final track, What’s the Point might be the pick of the lot: it’s equal measures brooding ‘80s synth and effects pedal-heavy ‘90s guitar drifting in and out – it’s as if Depeche Mode and The Edge cooked it themselves – with a secret ingredient thrown in. You can taste it, but it’s hard to identify. You just lose yourself to the flavours.

There’s a touch of James Blake in Harley’s undulating voice, although less haunting. At times it seems like he’s cramming too much into each line. He embeds a continuing theme of love, loss, regret and those relationship failings we all suffer in Vessel. But this does not bring it down, nor does it feel forced. Solemn moments are invigorated by a verve that refuses to be restrained. Production wise, he has put together an EP of delicately assembled tunes, yet you feel that his sound is a work in progress – remarkable progress nonetheless. For now, it’s fun to ride alongside Harley as he explores his talents and discovers his musical fingerprints.

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