After years of penning tracks for other artists, note Grenade for Bruno Mars, and singing lead vocals for the impressive Swedish electronic group Miike Snow, Andrew Wyatt has finally gotten around to recording his first solo effort. Being an admirer of Andrew Wyatt for years now, I was cautious but excited to hear his debut album and with such a diverse background of experience it wasn’t easy to make an accurate prediction of what Descender might sound like, and now after hearing it, you probably would have been wrong.
I was immediately set at ease when Wyatt’s distinctive vocals floated in on the albums opening track, ‘Horse Latitudes’. Instinctively expecting a Miike Snow-esque track to follow I was surprised at the drastic difference between this and what I had heard of him before. In comparison, this was stripped back and almost pure with it’s classical elements and I realised then that this was going to be an interesting venture. Lead single ‘And Septimus…’ is a useful indication of the kind of sound the album gives but is by no means the highlight with other tracks seeming more commercially appropriate.
With only 9 tracks it’s a relatively short affair but you wouldn’t notice, with moments of effecting sadness, tension and others of inspiring optimism it achieves what can take other albums of double the length to match. The most impressive track being ‘Harlem Boyzz’ that seems almost familiar and in which Wyatt really showcases his impressive vocal ability, utilising his falsetto whilst in other tracks, such as ‘She’s Changed’, an eerie vocal distortion is used.
It is evident that the tracks have not just been thrown together, you can almost pick out each layer of the delicate production that all come together to form a nostalgic haze. The album sounds decades older than it is and is based around a 75-piece string orchestra that creates a wholly romantic sound consistently throughout the album. It is the orchestral element that makes this record an enthralling listen; allowing the tracks to reflect a variety of cultures and sounds.
In ‘Cluster Subs’ there is a real oriental theme to the track, that compliments the references to Vietnam within the lyrics, which further diversifies the record. Obscure themes are rarely overdone on the album, with the exception of ‘In Paris They Know How to Build a Monument’, which is extremely difficult to relate to and veers on total inaccessibility. But this is a mere blip in the run of endearing and effective tracks that Descender offers.
There is no doubt that this record has been expertly mastered and recorded but there is something slightly underwhelming about some of the tracks, that seem to be lacking a little ‘oomph’, but you can accept that Wyatt has arrived at exactly what he set out to achieve. A uniquely beautiful and seductive sound, that is subtle in its effect but managing to seem almost historic in it’s approach. Descender should be taken notice of, as a remedy to the menagerie of predictable records that seem to be everywhere at the moment.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.