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Live Review: Sagrada Familiar reveal themselves with 'Wolf In A Mist'

23 March 2018 | 9:00 am | Kyle Fensom

Sydeny seven-piece Sagrada Familiar reveal their hybrid of jazz and trap-infused hip-hop with the apocalyptic, confronting 'Wolf In A Mist'

Sydney seven-piece SAGRADA FAMILIAR have unveiled ‘Wolf in a Mist’, the A-side from a split-single from their upcoming debut album, due out April 2018.

‘Wolf in a Mist’ opens with a brief spoken passage delivered by lead singer CHARLIE SUNDBORN. Sundborn flows alone amongst some dissonant horns and urban field recordings, inviting the listener into an apocalyptic cityscape where the depravities of humanity are allowed to flourish amidst rich kid parties, elitism and material consumption. Sundborn’s disgust is felt in the griminess of his vocal delivery and his aggressively stilted flow. When an artist opens up the bestial depths of their humanity for public consumption – those impulses and desires that even they are repelled by – it always makes for a compelling and confronting listening experience. This is certainly the case for Sundborn’s work here, which traverses similarly insular, introspective lyrical terrain that we’ve seen EARL SWEATSHIRT or KING KRULE mine in the past. It’s no surprise that on a track where Sundborn admits “I want to get over her but I don’t want her to get over me,” that he should also namecheck Patrick Bateman. This is the level that Sagrada Familiar want to drag you down to with ‘Wolf in a Mist’.

The rest of Sagrada Familiar fill out Sundborn’s lyricism with a jazz-tinged backbone of reverberating, looped classical piano chords, double bass and SIDONIE SPRING-WINER’S smoky backing vocals. The juxtaposition is striking – Sundborn’s lyrics and his suburban drawl belong down at the street level, but the rest of the band sound as if they’re playing for a cocktail party of the same upper echelons of society that he’s skewering. But then the drums come through with booming 808 kicks and triplet hi-hats that run at a skittering, almost paranoid sounding pace, and a menacing synth line that sounds like its stalking the piano as it worms its way into the track. The full breadth of Sagrada Familiar’s fusion of jazz with the conventions of trap-inflected hip-hop has found its way out of the mist and revealed itself, building to the track’s escalating, claustrophobic climax.

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With ‘Wolf in a Mist’, Sagrada Familiar leave us with a lot to be impressed by: the confidence with which they meld jazz, electronics and contemporary hip-hop, the symbiosis between lyricism and instrumentation, and the compositional and structural complexity involved here. It's particularly impressive for a band to achieve with their debut single, and it forecasts their incoming debut LP as one of the most forward-thinking, exciting Australian hip-hop releases of the year.

IMAGE: Sebastian Callum