Live Concert Photography: Nick Murphy with Beacon at Brooklyn Steel 7/12/19
Over the past handful of years of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written a bit about the Melbourne, Australia-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and producer Nick Murphy, who for the first few years of his tremendous run of internationally acclaimed success went under the moniker Chet Faker, a loving and play homage to Chet Baker, which he came up with after people continually confused him with a different and already established musician, who was also named Nick Murphy.
As Chet Faker, Murphy rose to prominence when his cover of Blackstreet‘s smash-hit “No Diggity” went viral, reaching #1 on the Hype Machine charts back in 2011. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding him, Murphy released his Chet Faker debut EP, 2012’s Thinking in Textures to positive reviews, with the EP’s second single “I’m Into You” landing at #24 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2012.
After the release of Thinking in Textures, Murphy spent the next couple of years collaborating with an eclectic array of musicians and producers including Flume, Say Lou Lou and Kilo Kish, as well as on remixes of material by MS MR and The Temper Trap. After releasing a collaborative EP with Flume, 2013’s Lockjaw, Murphy released his highly-anticipated Chet Faker full-length debut Built on Glass, which debuted at #1 on the ARIA Charts in his native Australia. The album featured several smash hits in Australia including “Talk Is Cheap,” which was named the #1 song on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2014; “Gold,” which landed at #7 and “1998,” which landed at #8.
In 2016 Murphy announced that after a lengthy run performing and writing as Chet Faker, he felt it was time to retire the moniker — and to record new material under his own name, which reflected a change of sonic direction. “Fear Less,” one of the first singles he released under his own name, sonically seemed to draw a bit more from the likes of of Coldplay, U2 and others, while retaining the deeply personal and visceral songwriting that has won him international attention.
Interestingly, Murphy’s headlining Brooklyn Steel set earlier this year was a career spanning set that featured material he had written and recorded as Chet Faker, as well as material he has written and recorded under his own name. Opening the night was Brooklyn-based electro pop act and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Check out photos from the show below.
I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon over the years, and as you may recall the duo — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production, keys, synths) — have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a minimalist approach and sound that draws from R&B, house and electro pop paired with Mullarney’s achingly tender falsetto.
Last year’s Gravity Pairs, the duo’s third full-length album released through their longtime label home Ghostly International found the duo writing material that went off in a completely different direction from their previously released work. They embarked on open-ended writing sessions in which they adopted a more liner style of songwriting instead of thee loop and texture-driven method they had long used. And the initial demos they wrote were essentially built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they then edited into a number of iterations, which found them looking through each individual version from a multitude of angles and directions.
Naturally, the duo expanded some songs and pared others back. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, deeply patient, almost painterly creative process eventually turned the material they wrote into a space in which seemingly different colors, tones and textures — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds, spreading out like a sort of spectrum. Interestingly, with each iteration Mullarney and Gusset discovered that they could expand upon how they presented the material within a live setting. rThey could play the material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. And while pushing the duo’s songwriting and sound in new adventurous, new directions their work has remained imbued with a vulnerable and aching yearning.
Their Brooklyn Steel set earlier this year was a career spanning yet centered around the material off their most recent album.