Over the past thirty or so years, several Australian artists have become internationally-known sensations including Men at Work, INXS, Midnight Oil, The Church, Cut Copy, Tame Impala and several others. Last year, the Melbourne, Australia-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Nick Murphy, best known as Chet Faker had a breakout year, as his full-length debut effort, Built on Glass received national and international attention for a smooth, soulful electro pop/electro R&B sound that many critics have compared favorably to D’Angelo, Hall and Oates and others, although, I can reasonably argue that to my ears his actual sound owes more of a debt to late 70s-mid 80s synth-based R&B, as Murphy’s music is incredibly sexy – we’re talking about listening to Quiet Storm, get naked and get under the sheets sexy.
As a result of the attention on Built on Glass, Murphy has been on a rather relentless touring schedule; the sort of touring schedule in which, the Australian-born, Brooklyn-Based artist has admitted that he hasn’t spent more than a few days in a particular time zone at any particular time over the past year or so. While announcing a number of large, North American festival dates including appearances at the Pemberton Music Festival, Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, Lollapalooza, San Francisco’s Outside Lands and FYF Fest, as well as a number of homeland shows in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, Murphy released a previously unreleased single “Bend.” The track was recorded as part of the Built on Glass sessions and was originally on the album but was cut at the last minute. As Murphy explains “since [the upcoming Australian] tour is sort of a live directors cut of the album, it made sense to release this before it lost context.”
Perhaps my experience as a book editor has influenced this, but I find the release of previously unreleased tracks to be fascinating as it offers deeper insight into the creative process – and the difficult decisions that are often made to complete an album. In a number of cases, cutting a track is a reasonable decision as the unreleased track doesn’t quite fit into the overall mood and tone of the album; however, in other cases, it can be a mistake, especially when a cut track may have fit in much better than a track that made the final album – or when that track would have added (or enhanced) something to the album.
“Bend” sounds as though it should have never been cut from the album in the first place, as it’s a sleek, sinuous track consisting of hip-hop-influenced beats, swirling electronics, angular stabs of synth and bass an atmospheric bridge punctuated with handclaps paired with Murphy’s plaintively crooned vocals. And much like the songs off Built on Glass, “Bend” primarily deals with dysfunctional, fucked up relationships that are rooted in the confusion between lust, love, self-doubt and self-awareness. Or in other words, the sort of relationship in which when things feel good, deep down they still feel a bit off and you can’t quite explain why or how.