Ned Collette + Wirewalker is a collaboration between the Melbourne – Australia performers Ned Collette (vocals, guitar) and Joe Talia (drums, vocals), with Ben Bourke (bass, vocals) and James Rushford (keys, vocals), featuring Gemma Ray (vocals) and Norma Jean (vocals), with European contributions from Fred Kinbom (bass, vocals) and Mads Ronbjerg (drums). After a debut EP, one full length album and a number of solo releases, the Ned Collette + Wirewalker project unveiled their second compilation in the late summer of 2012, simply titled 2.
Now based in Berlin, Germany Ned Collette has perhaps found a more natural home.
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The record begins with the quirky Il Futuro Fantastico, which features rich, droned vocals and choppy guitar notes played over a catchy bass-line and moody synth, preparing listeners for the experimental avant-pop experience to follow.
As 2 progresses, warm nylon-string guitar melodies interweave with synth and crystal-clear lyrics to create a compelling and often haunting experience. The Hedonist begins with a single sustained electronic bass note, bringing to mind Furious Angels by Rob Dougan before revealing its melody and dual vocals which build into a striking sonic tapestry. The lyrics are strong in this song and mesh well with every element of the mix to deliver a satisfying track, my personal favourite on 2.
There are times at which 2 forgoes the poetic melancholy for a more pop-focused vision, with tracks such as Long You Lie seeming almost to belong to another artist entirely, bringing to mind the work of European “electro-pop” acts. Dreamy, sultry and full of a gloomy swagger, the song stands out as perhaps the most accessible on this release.
This intermingling of styles is a fairly common occurrence throughout 2, with the last third of the album once again defying expectation. This begins with Happy Heart, a fairly innocuous track which serves as the preface to For Roberto, which sits as something of a black sheep within an otherwise cohesive flock. Before long the largely upbeat mix of guitar and synth takes an unsettling turn into a wash of ambient synths for just shy of a minute and a half before finishing with some reassuringly warm guitar chords. The album finale, What Lights Have You Seen, returns to a sombre and stripped down framework, concluding the compilation much as it began.
Personally I enjoyed listening to 2, there is some very clever song-writing and enjoyable twists which serve to lighten the mood and keep everything fresh. The production is great and the mixture of solemn lyrics, crisp musicianship and uncluttered composition mark Ned Collette as a master of his craft.
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