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Galaxy Galaxy

[Self-released; 2011]

By ; July 18, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

After lambasting Hamish Duncan’s first three EPs under his Housewife title, I namedropped and praised the eight-minute track called “Now We Wait” that followed their simultaneous release. It stood apart, not just for its length, but because it seemed calmer and more focused, instead of just sounding like it was trying to get as many different samples into the space of a few minutes. It’s no surprise, then, that on the debut album from Housewife, Galaxy Galaxy (so good he named it twice?), it once again stands out; and among the thirteen tracks on offer it could even take the title of the best of the bunch.

But, thankfully, it has a quite a bit of competition from other tracks that seem to have taken a cue from the song’s considered construction. “Scouts” drifts by with a looping guitar melody that’s soon taken over by a series of ambient drones, while livelier cut “LZ” utilizes a perfect piano riff before throwing in one of the few audible vocal samples. The subtle changing trip-hop beats never once disrupt the flow nor try to take the limelight, but instead, simply get the tracks by. Along with “Now We Wait,” these tracks feel like some of best jams Duncan has put out there. The construction and intertwining melodies and samples all speak for themselves and he never lets the idea go astray, always letting them run their natural course.

What’s also a promising point is that the other tracks competing for the title of “Best Track” here aren’t just ones that have Duncan spreading himself out. Instantly appealing, “The Devil You Know” throws in the a razor-sharp riff and some superb beats (those better bet oil drums I hear), but cleverly only uses the riff as a springboard to jump into some Rene Hell-style shimmering synths while teasingly using the doomy sound of the riff in the background. “Hot Monk” is actually rather akin to the tracks from the EPs and serves as a nice introduction from the previous material; drums stutter and samples float about (jazz bands and film strings) as a watery synth riff builds before dissolving back the lone wavering melody that began the track.

The problem is that pretty much all these tracks mentioned are present at the front of the album leaving for a second half that lacks tracks quite as notable, and as a result can lag. “Now We Wait” is of course an exception, as it simmers to a boil where it really starts to glimmer, like a Pantha du Prince track with a bit more scuffling going on. Elsewhere though, tracks struggle to establish a memorable moment; “Retired” shuffles by with bouts of fizzing distortion and samples of what sounds like a harp while “Happiness is a” just doesn’t really work – you can hear the notes mismatching as the bass-y synth and repeated vocal sample try to meld together.

The other aspect of the album that seems to let it down is that is lacks a satisfying substance that really hits you. Don’t get me wrong, Galaxy Galaxy an admirable album that is easy to enjoy and makes the Housewife moniker worthy of creation, but it still feels like it needs an injection of something totally fresh and surprising. Which leads me onto a secondary point that is the “sound” and feel of the album doesn’t come off as totally fresh, but instead sounds rather akin to Blackwidow; a previous Sleep In album. I should say though there’s one moment on the album that has this much needed “wow” factor, which is at the start of the track “Convicts” where Duncan throws in some honest-to-God happy house synths. But, unfortunately, they don’t stick around for long, and instead of using it as a means to another end, like on “The Devil You Know,” the track fails to move itself forward in an exciting way and instead warbles on for a further two minutes or so.

Still, it’s reassuring to see Duncan try out such things (not that I ever thought he was scared to) even if they don’t come off as well as expected. Much like the mix-match of tracks from the previous three EPs, it feels like experimentation and exploration, which is hard to knock Duncan for trying, especially when he’s delivered plenty of standout moments elsewhere on the album. Here’s just hoping, once again, that one day he delivers an album full of the better moments.



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