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Live Review: Big Wild's sublime debut LP 'Superdream' is a psychedelic microcosm

1 February 2019 | 9:32 am | Caitlin Medcalf

When faced with the cover art of BIG WILD's highly anticipated debut long-player Superdream, you're immediately transported deep into the sublime. The cover is simultaneously inviting and ambiguous. It's conceptually not overly complicated, but the delivery is sleek, refined and something totally 'other'. It's the perfect cover for a record like this, because the record could be described in exactly the same way.

The record takes the most euphoric moments of psychedelic rock, extrapolates them out of an analogue context and instead takes it in a digital direction, bringing the highs of psychedelia into the electronic realm. You wouldn't be wrong in saying that this isn't exactly a new concept - Tame Impala and Jagwar Ma have definitely already nailed a sound of this descriptor already. The difference is Big Wild is first and foremost a producer of electronic music. Rather than using electronic sounds to accentuate the psychedelic rock of artists like Tame Impala and Jagwar MaBig Wild's using his skills as an electronic musician to borrow elements of psychedelic rock and inject that into his music instead.

The album is dotted with these specifically electronic moments, namely the glitchy trap of 'Pale Blue Dot' and the warped 'Joypunks', but it never specifically becomes an electronic album. 'Maker' pairs staccatoed, arpeggiated synths with harsh signal static and soaring vocals, whilst tracks like 'She Makes Magic' transform vocal lines into malleable electronic instruments that have been sequenced rather than sung.

The electronic elements of the record are juxtaposed with these tender guitar moments, like the delicate electric symphony of 'Mopsy's Interlude', the half-time blues of 'Awaken' and the soft, plucked moments in 'City Of Sound'. He's enlisted a stellar cast of features to lend their hand for the record too, including Rationale and iDA HAWK, both notably exciting inclusions.

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The journey of this record is transformative. Each track takes you somewhere new, and by the end you don't realise how much of a build up the record actually leads you on until it's all over. 'Heaven' is potentially the most euphoric moment on the record, kicking off with a quiet, falsetto vocal over a crescendoing synth line that keeps quiet until the symphony of vocals overpowers the quiet, and eventuates into this shower of dancehall-esque percussion and a catchy as hell melody.

Superdream closes with this beautifully tender moment in 'Awaken', the track's silent killer. Big Wild uses this one to simmer down the record, but never letting the mood slip. The halftime of the instrumental in comparison to the speed of the rest of the record gives the illusion that this one's a chill track to end on, but there's a gospel like quality to it with the sidechain compressor on basically the entire track forcing the sound to warp in and out of focus, giving the track the illusion of breathing.

The record ends with a hi-pass filter over the cooing vocals and the tinkling of what feels like wind chimes closing out this belter of a record.

Of the record's creation, Big Wild says "Superdream was inspired by a need to create music that was a greater reflection of who I am now, leading me to feature my voice and songwriting as the main focus for the first time ever, which came from a very instinctual and subconscious space. With Superdream, I created a surreal music environment that challenges & pushes not only my own personal boundaries, but also those of my contribution to electronic music. It marks a new chapter in my music, one that is more ‘me’ than anything else I’ve released.”

With a debut as highly anticipated as this one, Big Wild's delivery never falters on the authenticity front, and that's what makes this record so damn enticing.

Photo via Facebook