Rapidly gaining notice outside of his native Australia, Gotye is yet another one of these artists who plays and sings nearly everything himself, and produces his own material as well. Originally starting out with a heavy reliance on sampling, Gotye has managed to emerge as an musician with originality and a style not unlike something I’ve been missing for a while: it certainly doesn’t hurt that, when the man lets rip vocally, he sounds like Peter Gabriel at the height of his powers, or late-Police-era/Dream Of The Blue Turtles-era Sting. Put that voice together with a quirky approach to instrumentation and you’ve got a pretty potent brew that’s hit the top of the charts in Australia and New Zealand, and might well do some damage elsewhere in the world.
The single that brought Gotye to everyone’s notice (mine included) was “Somebody That I Used To Know”, a song that’s uncompromisingly Gabriel-esque in its execution (and the striking-but-not-flashy video’s not a million miles away from the groundbreaking stuff that a younger Pete used to do, either). Featuring a guest vocal from New Zealand jazz singer Kimbra, it’s a handy jumping-on point for those unfamiliar with Gotye. The rest of the album isn’t necessarily just like it, but with songs that walk deftly between such well-defined genres as techno and reggae, we shouldn’t be expecting any two Gotye songs to be alike: this guy clearly loves to kick down the barriers that common sense and received wisdom tell us should exist between these styles of music, and the result is startlingly original cutting-edge rock.
Much of the album is sunnier than the somewhat angsty “Somebody That I Used To Know”, but it’s no less listenable. “State Of The Art” is as close as Making Mirrors gets to revisiting “Somebody”‘s dark feel, relying on samples, spoken word, and instrumentation that doesn’t normally get paired together. It’s a stranger specimen than “Somebody”, but it’s still listenable and re-listenable. The echoing “Smoke And Mirrors” and the low-key, atmospheric “Giving Me A Chance” Gotye has some fairly daring ideas on what kind of percussion and instrumentation to use – it’s innovative and unconventional, but not alienating. Which really sums up the album as a whole.
Go ahead and give Gotye a listen. I think this one’s going to wind up being on a lot of people’s “new discoveries” lists for 2012, and I for one plan to also put him on the “track down his older stuff and watch closely for what he does in the future” list.
- Making Mirrors (1:01)
- Easy Way Out (1:57)
- Somebody That I Used To Know featuring Kimbra (4:04)
- Smoke And Mirrors (5:13)
- I Feel Better (3:18)
- In Your Light (4:39)
- State Of The Art (5:15)
- Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You (3:18)
- Giving Me A Chance (2:56)
- Save Me (3:53)
- Bronte (3:18)
Released by: Eleven
Release date: 2011
Total running time: 38:52