Sarah is a truly immersive artist to experience. I’ve had her latest EP, ‘Window’, on repeat for days in preparation for this writing this post and I feel like I’ve dropped into a sonic ocean. Or into gravity-less open space. I’m still trying to decipher where I am. It’s completely refreshing to hear this kind of work come from an Australian artist. The more I listen the deeper I dive, it’s a gloriously unique experience.
I had the pleasure of hearing this EP before I met Sarah – she is such a beautiful and warm person, I couldn’t wait to meet her. It’s quite a challenge to explain the effect her work has on you as a listener because for lack of descriptive tools, you’re stunningly paralysed by it. I haven’t heard anything like it. I’m going to do my best track-by-track to explain what lures you in – once I’ve managed to overcome it’s beautiful hangover.
Overall this EP embodies a feeling of weightlessness. It’s deep yet soaring, broad and resonant. Simply put, it’s magnificent.
From the moment this track starts, you’ve dropped into the abyss. Glassy synth overlays bright and guiding piano. You feel like you’re underwater holding on to an anchor chain – and this piano is that chain. Sarah’s vocal appears as if out of thin air and suddenly it’s everywhere, all around you. There’s a distant guitar adding percussive momentum – particularly in the beginning before the pulsing drum work begins and takes over. This guitar returns as the track develops – more burly than before – right before the track lifts into a storm. From here you’re getting tossed around – every element of the track swirls. After this turbulence it’s as if each instrument (including Sarah’s vocal) has transformed. Their functions and behaviour have changed and before the track ends you’re aware that this piece is now something different – as a listener you are not where you started. Glorious.
This track carries a natural daylight that is brilliant and auroral. The piano takes more of a supportive backseat as Sarah’s soft and velvety vocal, met by the brightness of a plucky and percussive harp, carries the track. These vocals trigger a growing soundscape that flares in multiple colours and takes many shapes all at once. The drum and bass work acts as the foundational layer for these shifts. Sarah’s vocal acts like a conductor – at times levitating every element in midair until the time is right to move on. It’s at this point the synth strings breathe oxygen back into the tracks’ limbs. In its finality you experience a stunning partnership between multi-layered piano and Sarah’s voice – it’s a uniquely ethereal conclusion.
To me this track acts like a deep breath in amidst the surrounding tracks. I believe the key aspect is that of time – it’s suspension and movement. At key points throughout this track, including the very beginning, time is held – almost as if frozen. When time is ready to move the shuffling snare steps in and carries it forward. This interplay between the two happens on and off and it’s gentle hand stops and starts you when ready. Likewise all instruments work by this command – the pulsating bass, warm reverbed piano, silvery synth, snuffled ride and underwater guitar. As a finish layer the track is sprinkled with gliding synth off in the distance. As it draws to a close the deeper everything dives – vocals take a haunting direction with escalated backing vocals above Sarah’s main vocal melody. There’s more to come and this track is preparing you for what’s next.
This track is the shining conclusion of the EP’s odyssey – bold, final, resolute and heady. Every aspect advances to its peak – Sarah’s main vocal, surrounding backing vocals, driving and soaring guitar, cinematic synth, energetic drum work and rolling bass. When these instruments are warmed up and ready Sarah’s vocal climbs to it’s highest elevation and you know THIS was where this EP has been heading throughout its journey. This is the final destination and it’s exhilarating.
Please, please, please listen to this EP – ensure you have good headphones or speakers to hear every frequency of it’s glory.