In 2014, Brittle as Bones, the intimate debut from Setec, aka Sydney artist Joshua Gibbs, was released via artist collective Feral Media. Combining gentle melodies, ramshackle percussion and looped acoustic instruments with deftly chosen samples, the album created a warm and delicate world, each track immersing you in gentle evocations of a different time and place.
Over the past few months we’ve heard rumblings of a follow-up LP, and today we’re excited to present lead single ‘Cotton Bones’. Opening on a minimal piano loop, with spectral echoes dispersed among pitter-patter rhythms, the track recalls the dusty layers of Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House or Four Tet’s early folktronica.
There’s a melancholy to ‘Cotton Bones’ – perhaps typical of Setec’s nostalgic approach to song craft – which is belied by a breezy chorus. The song gradually blooms into a bright singalong moment, as Gibbs adds his own voice to the gauzy source material.
Sydneysiders can catch Setec launching his new single at the Gaelic Club next Saturday. The gig is hosted by Skydreams, with support from Spirit Faces, Imperial Broads and Okin Osan. Full event details on Facebook. You may also be lucky enough to pick up an extremely limited lathe-cut vinyl copy of the single, with 3 alternate sleeves.
Stay tuned for more news on Setec’s second album, but for now slide into ‘Cotton Bones’ for a while.
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TEEF Records‘ mammoth charity compilation Imperium in Imperio drops today, and it sure is worthy of the grandiose title. With tracks contributed by 16 artists, from the established to the almost unheard of, it functions as a kind of statement of intent for TEEF – a Sydney-based label launched last year by Sound Doc blogger Tommy Faith. The songs assembled here, previously unreleased, showcase Tommy’s taste for forward-looking pop that blurs the line between electronic and acoustic elements.
Featured artists include Melbourne producer Leaks, who also designed the compilation’s stunning marbled cover art, underground RnB sensations Collarbones, inaugural TEEF signee Spirit Faces, 17-year-old violinist turned pop artist Lupa J and sample-happy electro-folk artist Setec. There’s a restrained, dissociated-sounding track from the unstoppable Snowy Nasdaq under one of his many pseudonyms, Magnum Ego. Named ‘Slow Release’, it was apparently penned while zonked on experimental drugs as Snowy was undergoing dangerous medical trials. There’s also a track by a well-known Melbourne producer, submitted under the alias Hann as a one-off release.
From beginning to end Imperium in Imperio is swathed in lush and swirling sounds, both organic and propulsive. The highlight has to be ‘Diagonal’, the 10-minute centrepiece provided by Planète. It’s a driving and cathartic techno jam that betrays more than a passing affinity with James Holden’s Border Community. There are also excellent remixes by Yeo and Shisd, and a delicate, floating closer by house wunderkind Darcy Baylis.
A pay-what-you-feel download out via Bandcamp, all proceeds from Imperium in Imperio will go to OXFAM’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund, so quit browsing ya cheapskates – this isn’t a library.
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Setec is Josh Gibbs, a Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist who stitches together organic samples – guitar loops, hand claps, voice – with field recordings, found sounds and snippets from old records to form nostalgic collages that recall the crackly bowerbird aesthetic of the Books.
In February 2012 Gibbs released the first Setec EP, Longer Letters – three tracks of improvised vocals and field recordings produced over two days in a city studio. A second EP, I’ll Be Good, followed six months later on Wood and Wire. Featuring layers of vocals and guitar loops, the EP is deliberately structured around a few samples and found sounds, and the seams are designed to show. Gibbs treats these foreign objects in the manner of the Avalanches or, say, Jens Lekman – as sources of inspiration to be framed and played along with.
On new single ‘Water or Concrete’ Setec is moving away from abstraction, bringing his voice, a sweet falsetto, straight to the centre and decorating it with a swooping mandolin and the sounds of chattering strangers. It’s his best track yet.
Setec’s debut album, Brittle as Bones, will be released soon, and he’s set to appear on Feral Media’s next Strain of Origin compilation alongside artists like Lower Spectrum and Power Moves. Catch him and his loop pedal playing a set this Thursday at Surry Hills venue the Forresters.
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