WE REVIEW THE NEW ALBUM FROM HARRY HEART – CAMBISTRY
Harry Heart’s latest album Cambistry marks a few firsts for the London-born Australia-raised musician. While the official release day falls in early May, fans already own many of these songs. They were sold as collectible NFTs. It’s a not unheard-of but still novel strategy that Heart embraced.
He also took Cambistry as an opportunity for a musical change of scene. ‘I wanted to challenge myself and leave behind some old creative habits,’ he said. ‘Once I gave myself complete freedom to make any kind of music, I decided to embrace a new way of releasing it.’
An unconventional release schedule and, for Heart, a new sound. Cambistry is Heart’s Kid A. His shift from indie rock to indie-electronica. The genres have aligned in the past – The Postal Service’s Give Up remains fresh twenty years on – but for Heart, it’s new territory.
Nowhere is this clearer than with ‘Same Solutions’. More Mogwai than Oasis – its watery piano loop forms a psyched-out hypnotism. Following this is the forlorn and vividly abrasive ‘Diving Bell’. Heart yelps in despair alongside fragmented bumps and glitches, moving between esoteric experimentalism and melodic melancholia. ‘Brother I’m tired I don’t know how you’re surviving,’ he whimpers.
Yet Heart appears to battle throughout, desperately clawing his way back from this downtrodden pathway. ‘Can’t be Led’ is an understated contrast to what precedes it, while remaining unified amongst the album’s other songs. The presentation is portentous and eerie guitars reverberate gently against Heart’s voice, but there is underlying defiance to be found.
The ambiguity at play leaves you overwrought. ‘It’s gonna be ok to change’ he recites repeated towards the album’s close. But is this simple recitation one of reassurance or uncertainty?
Not every experiment leaves the desired result. ‘Walden’ trips over a snare pattern that clatters like a wearisome Ford Anglia. Meanwhile ‘Begging’ – a mostly pleasant soundscape piece – is too reliant upon the extremities of vocal processors. A similar reliance returns with F.o.M, albeit with a bolder and weirder edge.
But these moments remain a minority compared to Heart’s often detailed mixing. Take ‘Head Like Leather’ with its rudimentary and searingly bright synths. Alone they’d be cumbersome, but filtered through the fastidiously layered mix and it becomes a beatific accompaniment to the album’s lyrical uncertainty.
A few tumultuous somersaults afterwards lead to the closing song ‘G.O.M.Y.O’. With this tender moment of resolution, Heart appears to be at his most assured when singing ‘Don’t think about it, God only made you once.’ The music is fragile, closing the album far more gently than how much of it proceeded. But that’s exactly how this album should close. A solution. A sense of finality to this creative and daring project.