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EP Review: Willow Beats – ‘Water’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on September 16, 2014

There’s something arresting about Willow Beats. The uncle-niece duo out of Melbourne having been making beautiful electronic music for a few years now, and have just released their third EP, Water.

Lead single Merewif is at the top of the six-track release, wherein natural sounds and carefully woven samples are abundant. Merewif itself is stunning. The dulcet, alluring charm of Kalyani Mumtaz has never been more prominent and, what’s more, it’s Willow Beats’ most lyrically captivating song. The effortless dark/light dichotomy created by the innocent tones of Mumtaz and the gloomy, menacing lyrics (‘I know your lungs are screaming/You’ll learn to love it here’) construct a song with immense depth that foreshadows a promising future for Willow Beats.

None of the other five tracks matches Merewif for quality, but the level to which Mumtaz and her uncle, Narayana Johnson, combine to produce music imbued with energy and a delightful connection to nature is, at times, quite breathtaking. Chess is an effervescent six-minute journey that teeters on the edge of completion, inexplicably shying away from the deeper, more full-sounding sonic elements it needs.

The danger for Willow Beats is clinging too tightly to the niche of airy, innocent vocals, bubbly percussion and quirky natural samples. Granted, this blueprint has proved successful on Water (most notably on Merewif and Guardian), but for the duo to fulfil their obvious potential, they mustn’t rely too heavily on their established idiosyncrasies. Pleasingly, there is some evidence of sonic development on this EP: Airships is a polite nod in the direction of EDM (but is still far from shaking hands with its electronic counterpart). Oceans and Skies, however, is a rather lacklustre finish to an otherwise promising collection of songs. Johnson is a talented producer, but his vocals evoke far less emotion than those of his niece. Overall, Willow Beats’ Water is a consistent and enjoyable, if mostly unspectacular, release that indicates vast potential, but a reluctance to traverse unmapped territory.

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