Hotly-tipped Australian dance producer turns in short, sweet curio of a debut outing
Brisbane producer Charles Murdoch signed to Aussie imprint Future Classic – most closely associated with the careers of Flume and Chet Faker – off the back of a Beatport competition where, despite missing the submission deadline, he caught the ears with his remix of Flume’s ‘Sleepless’. Since then Murdoch has played some pretty high-profile shows with the likes of Nicolas Jaar, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Lapalux and Cashmere Cat. His ‘Weathered Straight’ EP arrived in 2013, followed by a two-year hiatus working on new album ‘Point’.
At eight tracks and just 35 minutes, it is a struggle to see where all that time went. ‘Nothing For You’ gets the album off to a great start. Starting out as a peaceful rock garden constructed from processed vocals and splashing percussion, it then turns into a light, airy pop song. It’s probably the best thing here, and unfortunately somewhat of an outlier.
‘Point’ is home to an array of Australian guest vocalists, and on a surface level feels similar to the Disclosure album model (albeit with considerably less star power). However, the vibe is more nuanced than that, the vocals folded into the music like another instrument. ‘Point’ actually reminds me more of Katy B’s ‘On A Mission’, another nighttime emotional pop record informed by the rhythms and textures of underground dance music.
Of the singles, the wobbling ‘Frogs’ is infused with a bit of personality courtesy of a duet between Wafia and fellow beatmaker Ta-ku, and guest eight-bar from Hak of New York rap crew Ratking. Elsewhere, the best cuts are the pair of songs handled by Chloe Kaul. ‘Open’ starts gently, before kicking into gear halfway through, while ‘Fray’ is a dreamy affair that also hits harder then anything else on the record. Tender and fragile, Kaul’s voice carries a lot of emotion and elevates these two above the rest of the pack. ‘Wash’ is also worth highlighting, a rumbling slow-build instrumental that loses little of its fizz after being uncorked.
‘Point’ could do with being a bit sharper, a bit less polite. Murdoch’s skill as a producer is never in doubt, but he’s made an unflashy record and that works to its disadvantage. On the whole, the vocalists don’t manage to make up for this – it’s like neither side wants to take centre stage. I’m not asking for a cynical pop grab or an about-turn deeper into the underground, just something that makes me want to listen to ‘Point’ over the legion of producers doing something very similar.
So what saves it from the purgatory of tasteful Soundcloud background music? Murdoch’s considerable production chops, as already mentioned, but also a sense of patience and coherence. He nails a particular reflective, slightly late night vibe, and that gives the record an identity. I only wish that extended to the songs themselves.