Listen to Dance Dance Dance
As so often happens, a chance meeting, a random jam, results in something far more than just the forging of a new friendship. So it happened for Nick Milwright and Damian Cazaly, who after a fortuitous encounter in 2005, came to form Melbourne group Blackchords.
Their resulting brand of darkly majestic pop has grown organically over the past seven years, as has their audience and acclaim, the band releasing their eponymous debut in 2009, touring Europe, garnering praise and award nominations both here and abroad. It’s music that creeps and cavorts, it drags you in and flings you out, it’s primal and new all at once, it’s something different, something to think about indeed.
However, the time has come to move on and so the group – who now boast the talents of bass player Tristan Courtney and drummer Manny Bourakis – have pieced together their second long-player, A Thin Line, which sees the band evolving and exploring, crawling out of the primordial ooze, growing legs and walking, running, towards the next stage in their growth and musical expansion.
“First and foremost is getting my voice to be my voice, getting Tristan’s bass playing and Damian’s guitar playing to be their voice, a Blackchords sound as opposed to a culmination of influences – we wanted to find our own unique styles,” says Milwright on how the group have moved on from Blackchords.
“On top of that, we’ve experimented more with sounds, with electronica,” he goes on. “As with the first record, it’s creating a soundscape, really layering up [sounds], and this time we’ve taken that a step further, making it more ambient.”
A Thin Line does indeed follow on from the group’s debut, but as Milwright says, it’s more ambient, it’s more electronic, and this isn’t to say it’s any mellower or has less impact. Quite the contrary – A Thin Line pulses with more of an energy, it’s rife with confidence, confidence garnered from the past seven years of writing, recording and playing live. It’s a step up, make no mistake about it.
However, it wasn’t an easy process. As Milwright says, there was a lot of pressure from the band members themselves to really capitalise on the success their debut brought in, and it took a long while of trying to find the right mindset, before this new record began to take proper shape.
“Yeah, we’d just come off the road and had been playing in front of people, and so we had this mentality of writing for an audience,” Milwright concurs. “It wasn’t until we got away, about six months prior to recording the record, that we got rid of all these preconceptions of how to write, and just wrote music together… and that was a pivotal point, letting go of any preconceptions as to whether it may or may not be on an album.”
From there, it began to flow. The band went into the studio in the Yarra Valley, just outside Melbourne, and with help from renowned producer David Odlum (The Frames, Gemma Hayes, Josh Ritter, Luka Bloom) they crafted what is their strongest musical statement to date.
Beginning with the title track, a number which slowly builds to a layered crescendo, A Thin Line strides forward – ‘As Night Falls’ reigns it in a little before the dark and breezy ‘Sleepwalker’ picks it up again, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ upping the pop ante before the whole thing comes to a finish, ‘Day I Die’ encapsulating all that’s come before it, booming one minute, lulling you to sleep the next – and through it all, a common thread, that thin line.
“It comes from a place that’s fighting distraction,” Milwright says on the artistic message this record is conveying. “I felt like I had a straight line I was trying to walk, but kept getting pulled from that by distraction. Everywhere you look you are bombarded, with more and more things that take you from what your focus and passion is, before you know it you know it you have forgotten what it is that you really believe in. So this record is a fight against distraction.”
It’s that straight line that Milwright tries to walk, that has become A Thin Line. And there’s no distracting from this record, of that there is no doubt.