Chet Faker - Built On Glass
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It was the year 2011 when Chet Faker stepped out of his bedroom and into the spotlight - visible to the eyes and ears of millions of listeners across the globe. An internet sensation had been born from the attention received by sending an MP3 file of 'No Diggity' to a blogger. Within hours, the track was dispersed all over the world reaching the number one spot on Hype Machine. One year later, Chet released his debut EP Thinking in Textures, reaching gold status in Australia (he was subsequently lauded as the breakthrough artist of the year). Three years have gone since he first saw fame. Three years of touring, producing, giving interviews and playing festivals. The development of Chet Fake from his first work to his latest is clearly depicted in the sound of his highly anticipated full-length album Built On Glass. The album is epitomised by the word 'dynamic' - it is incredibly multilayered and diverse but always pleasing.
Chet Faker has created a unique sound, developed through the composition of electronica, pop, soul, house and R&B. Built On Glass exhibits a much wider variety of sounds, vibes and even genres than his debut, showcasing a strong development over the course of two years. The album is released under Future Classic and Opulent - the former having achieved the status of being the hallmark of progression in electronic music, bringing artists like Flume, Oscar Key Sung, Chrome Sparks and Jagwar Ma into the limelight seemingly overnight - so it is no wonder that Chet Faker has made it into their roster, as his willingness to cross genres and experiment is a perfect fit with the label.
Chet starts the album off with a slow-burning R&B flick, 'Release Your Problems', which takes you back to Jill Scott's 'Do You Remember' with its organic and playful bass-line and the broken beat underneath. Chet's voice is really the centrepiece of the composition as he flirts with different feels, building the sound over the course of the track. By starting off in a humming and quiet manner, then breaking into the chorus delivering the crying hook 'Release Your Problems', and finally giving an emotional and loud start to the second verse, Chet Faker shows his virtuosity in taking the listener on a trip through a diverse range of phases over a single song.
The ability to write catchy hooks and choruses seems to be natural to Chet Faker. The emotive and already immensely popular 'Talk Is Cheap' presents yet another example of exactly this. The haunting "So help me help you start it / you're too comfortable to know / throwing out those words, no / you've gotta feel it on your own" gives the poppy track -- driven by a saxophone and a simple synth loop -- the status of an instant favourite. Chet's build-ups to choruses are second to none with 'Gold' and 'Melt' being perfect examples. His deep and almost crackling voice has an impressive range, which he often uses in convincing partnerships with his production to raise the tension to the point of no return, only to break down into the chorus. 'Melt' features the celebrated New York artist Kilo Kish, who brings the track a relaxed, chilled out quality with her toned down rap-like singing. The song grooves slowly in a glitchy manner with a 3/4 feel over the 4/4 beat, which leads into a superbly captivating chorus where Chet leaves a lasting impression on your mind with his catchy cry, "Melt my happiness, some kind of fucked up mess / looking out for you is a kind of waiting game that leaves me / running circles into my brain."
The dynamic nature of Built On Glass should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Chet Faker over the past years, as his production has clearly drawn inspiration from a wide variety of music worlds, ranging from electronica to jazz. The latter, especially, sticks out when you concentrate on his vocal efforts, never mind his name. The playfulness he adopts by imitating instruments with his vocal chords, like he does in 'Lessons In Patience', is exemplary of Chet treating tracks as if they were jazz tunes. However, his experimentation with genres goes further. For example, 'Cigarettes & Loneliness' is essentially an eight-minute indie-pop opus, which you wouldn't necessarily expect from Chet. yet he's able to pull it off convincingly, and I for one don't know many artists who are capable of doing that.
As Chet Faker brings Built On Glass to a close with the classic-sounding and slow-flowing R&B track 'Dead Body', he shows exactly how far he's come since his debut. Over the years he's collaborated with Flume, his tracks have been remixed by the likes of Nicolas Jaar, and he's gone across the globe and back, playing sold-out tours. Now he's come up with something special on his own -- an album that comes together piece-by-piece like a puzzle. Take Chet's out of context and they might feel as if there were no common theme, but place them side-by-side and you'll find the tracks forming a complete and comprehensive whole -- a release that is dynamic, mature, and impressive in all areas.
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Chet Faker's soul-infused electro-blues sound springs from Melbourne roots, but you might not say it sounds typically Australian, or that it would fit on a bill with Toro Y Moi and Washed Out (as it will). Still 'his' (real name unknown) debut EP Thinking In Textures is a cool summer night, wisps of breeze licking at your hands; but can it establish Faker as a genuine contemporary of the scene? [read more]