Monday, November 18, 2013

Big Scary Crosses A Twin Rivers EP

Big Scary
If you're wondering about the upcoming January release of Not Art by Australian alternative outfit Big Scary, their new Twin Peaks EP previews two tracks (one with two remixes), one remix (without the original) off the upcoming album, and one EP exclusive. All together, it's a good introduction to the wistful and enigmatic band out of Melbourne and foreshadows what's to come.

Mostly, it's a bump up from their intimately crafted debut album Vacation in 2011, which Tom Iansek and Jo Syme self-produced on their own Pieater label. By the time that album was fully released in the States, anybody who was a fan-in-waiting had already heard it.

That's pretty much how everything rolled for Big Scary. Animals was an immediate hit in Australia and the duo took it upon themselves to shore up a small cult following in the United States. To give the latter a boost, they played SXSW, CMW and CMJ as part of self-funded North American tour.

Twin Rivers EP lives up to Big Scary expectations. 

The best track off the EP is unquestionably the title track, Twin Rivers. Iansek opens it up with a minimalist instrumental before Syme joins for the light chorus. It hits upon the idea of quiet acceptance and an ease in starting the day. The video supporting the EP is something else.

Shot by director Shaun Garland, the video adds another layer to the lyrics by making a praying mantis his metaphor. Like the mantis, we all have to face the perils of living in the modern world.

"On set the crew would wait patiently for her to move into a good position or give a look with personality, said Garland about the mantis they named Florence. "She performed like a star and even gave the unplanned-for scene by continually moving towards the window, which created the most poignant part of the story."

What stands out is that quiet before the modern world really begins to take off toward busy. There are so many places in Los Angeles where this track fits. Mornings are uncomplicated before rush hour.

The second track, which won't appear on the album, is a more buoyant tune. The bounce no doubt comes from Sydney-based beat genius Jonti. The Adidas Originals dream team collaboration that started with Run DMC and DJ A-Track has brought together six artists to produce three tracks.

The first track finished was Slumming It In Paradise. Although you can also find the pairing free, it makes for a nice fill between Twin Rivers and Invest, which knocks the tempo back to the soft touch that Big Scary likes to float along with. While nowhere near as interesting as Twin Rivers, it clicks.

Big Scary carries forth its winning combination of fusing indie rock song structures, hip-hop production, and experimental ambient noise into something that gets under the skin and stays there. It's almost hard to believe that these two started out with acoustic guitars and egg shakers.

The remixes on the EP are another story. Each of them adds something, especially the Twin Rivers remixes, but seem to loose the intimacy in favor of more dreamlike and even ethereal qualities. They're both good, but it's the original that will remain on my playlist. There is a lot to compare.

The best thing about the Luck Now remix is that it makes you want to hear the original. According to IndieShuffle, Menomena improved on the melody, fortified the bass, and amplified the percussion. Without having heard it untouched, it's hard to say.

Twin Rivers EP by Big Scary Shuffles Up 5.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

This is precisely where the band needs to be in advance of their first label-produced album in January. Twin Rivers is a winner and Invest is solid. Had the band put out a double-sided single and saved the remixes as bonus tacks, it could have climbed in eights.

After sampling the EP here, you can find the Twin Rivers EP on Amazon or download it from iTunes. The EP, like the upcoming album, was recorded and produced by Iansek. It was then mixed by Tom Elmhirst (Arcade Fire, The Kills, Black Keys). Elmhirst did Big Scary right, leaving much of the intent alone while enhancing the sound in just the right places.
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