Monday, April 18, 2022

Indie Music: Swansgate, "Becoming Someone"

 by Germar Derron

This . . . is unexpected. Somehow Swansgate's Becoming Someone sounds much like the universe appears from space--infinite and homogeneous. But at the same time, that consistent color and temperature, of the Swansgate space, also contains many distinct sonic galaxies. They collected and combined many subgenres under that bigger umbrella genre called "Swansgate."

Watching the video for "Embedded Rhythm," while muted, recalls every video of every band ever. The visual could fit comfortably into a boxed collection of NPR Tiny Desk concerts. The shots include keys, guitars, the batter of a kick, and a familiar mic collecting CO2 and spittle. But the sound accompanying that common sequence is far from ordinary. And the later visuals match that sound.

That video eventually includes so much color--deeply saturated tones. Then, a distorted bird's eye shot, warm nirvana-esque smiles, and a cat with a third eye? Pieces of the vocal seem high . . . on harmony. And that fairly accurately represents the sound of Becoming Someone. Overall, the album is peaceful, hopeful, and relaxing, while still managing to depict real musicianship and lyricism. 

The earlier notion that the album is consistent while varied also applies to many of the songs. The album is its own audible universe with connected sonic galaxies. And similarly, maybe--sticking with the astronomical analogy--each song represents a super chill galaxy, with varied, but connected solar systems. Okay, I'm done reliving my six semesters of astronomy and physics.

Again, every genre is represented here in part, but those parts combine to make a very even whole. On a couple of tracks, the vocal is rhythmic, rhyming, rapping in a modern style that is surprising but not disrupting. At least one track could fit well with our recent electronic obsession. Portions are jazzy in a college school of music + Sade sort of way. "Why Need So..." is somehow old-school nostalgic, sweet, and maybe a bit naive. Then on the very next track, we get a touch of R&B. But that's not so surprising after hearing notes of Janet next to Sade earlier. On "Lines to Us," the instrumental and vocal swap places--and it works.

"Becoming Someone" is smooth, beautiful, and often light--arguably atmospheric. But most importantly, like many of my favorite tracks, it feels beach-bred and born. Each track relaxes like the best Californian or Hawaiian vacations. Turn it up. Look up. Drink up.


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