The Green Child were once a long-distance project between Raven Mahon and Mikey Young, split between California and Australia. But the Shimmering Basset album brings them both together just south of Melbourne and this physical and musical closeness shines through on the album. Whereas some electronic artists go for the darker, saw-toothed, corners of the synthesiser like later Depeche Mode or the alienation of Gary Numan The Green Child have gone for the enigmatic, more whimsical end of the synth. Throughout the album you can hear the sizzle of OMD, the tickle of Strawberry Switchblade or the arpeggiated warmth of Yellow Magic Orchestra and the press release describes their music being retro-futuristic, which is a good call.
From the opening wonky keyboard bumps and swells of ‘Fashion Light’ you could be forgiven for feeling like a neon Alice falling down the rabbit hole into The Green Child’s Wonderland. As each track unfolds another interesting character is introduced: the hyper-optimistic riff at the start of ‘Low Desk: High Shelf’, the interlacing of looped bass line and slow bossa nova drum machine on ‘Dreamcom’, the sledgehammer pound of ‘Tony Bandana’ with an ethereal tarantella, whirling it’s way in and out of the track, the compressed pops and ticking clock of ‘Health Farm’, the ice-shimmer of ‘Witness’, the undulating electronic sea of ‘Smart Clothes’ or the epic mountain range of ‘Resurrection’, all the way up to ‘Double Lines’ which swells like dry ice to a low key close with vocals and keyboards dancing around each other like a murmuration.
They joy of this album is the melding of the familiar with the new. The production is lake water clear and allows the glinting frost of synthesisers to be melted by the analogue warmth of bass and electric guitar chords/riffs. And then there is Mahon’s voice which brings everything together. It’s a voice that shares many elements with some of the great French chanson singers like Françoise Hardy or Jane Birkin with a languorous style of singing, symbiotic with the instruments. Mahon will sometimes utilise subtle short phrases, close harmony, doubled voice and drone lines along with syncopated phrasing that will then, at times, soar like a zephyr above the electronic landscape.
It’s no surprise that, with Raven Mahon being a furniture maker and Mikey Young being a recording engineer, they were able to construct something that flexes and breathes like wood but is also crisp and precise as only an engineer can achieve. Shimmering Basset is put together without the listener finding any parts left over or missing and I am glad this review is going up on a Sunday as it’s a perfect album to relax to let your coffee and their shimmer warm up your Autumn day.
Review by Paul F Cook