Music review: Japanese Wallpaper
The latest release from Japanese Wallpaper is a five-track, self-titled debut EP which triumphantly marks the transition the young Aussie has made from bedroom producer to 2015’s hottest electronic artist.
18-year-old Gab Strum, who last year won the Triple J Unearthed High competition, has carefully constructed the most calming, ethereal and delightful 20-minute listening experience that encapsulates innocence and purity.
Opener ‘Between Friends’ featuring Jesse Davidson is a transcendent pull into the EP with a refreshing, playful and youthful tone. The ambient underlay of the melody teams harmoniously with Davidson’s smooth vocals.
It transitions beautifully into ‘Waves’ featuring Pepa Knight, and provides a hallowing feel that washes over you, yet still carries Strum’s signature sound. This track shows off his ability to understand the different ways that music can be composed to create individual stories.
‘Breathing In’ is an interestingly complex track which features the elastic vocals of Wafia. There’s a real journey happening in this song, one that will fill you with nostalgia and make you recall your happiest memories. There’s also a serenity that the female vocals provide, working well to become the hero of the track, standing out against more paired-back instrumentals.
In yet another superb match, ‘Forces’ featuring Airling is my standout pick for this EP. There’s an art form that eventuates from constructing a piece of music that can take you to such a euphoric state that you drift away, and give in to the journey the song is taking you on. It’s a little more upbeat and while gives an air of lightness and youthfulness, Airling’s vocals are breathy and mature.
In an effortlessly cool fashion, the EP ends just as strongly as it begins with ‘Arrival’ which features Dustin Tebbutt. Following the classic style of the previous four songs, this track is slightly longer as it draws out all of the highs of Strum’s creativity and once again, perfectly nails the instrumental and vocal pairing. It’s a slower, more aesthetic track that truly shows off the natural talent that Strum holds.
As one of the most artistic and creative EP’s, Japanese Wallpaper is leaps and bounds beyond his years, with an ear for sounds that push the limitations of electronic music. It’s a feat for a producer to be able to create such an atmospheric collection of songs that are individually champions, as well as connected perfectly in unison.
This is, undoubtedly, my favourite Aussie release so far this year. Insanely impressive for a boy who will be sitting his Year 12 exams soon.
Japanese Wallpaper’s debut self-titled EP is out now via Inertia. Oh, and heads-up, Triple J Unearthed High is happening again right now. Wanna enter and become the next Japanese Wallpaper? Then go to the Tripe J website to find out more.
Review by Annastasia Robertson.