Eclectic and explosive Australian electronic dance music producer Willaris. K returned this week with LUSTRE, the second EP after his smash 2018 debut Alchemy.
While those who are familiar with Willaris’ previous works will recognise some trademark elements that has made him one of the most exciting and fascinating young artists within the electronic dance scene, LUSTRE is a turn towards a more introspective, melancholic, yet typically complex and monolithic tone that showcases the NSW-based producer’s range in mood.
The Ep’s opening single, 5 O’CLOCK, with it’s powerful, escalating and suspenseful intro, makes use of swirling, oscillating synth-textures that move independently yet perfectly in cohesion. Willaris’ typically monolithic bass synth progression is here, but it’s more patient and restrained in its progressive build up. The track is sombre, yet stoic in its delivery and emotion, a sign of things to come in the EP.
GET WITH MY LIGHT is a step away from the Willaris. K we are used to, an exploration of emotional conflict. A Hans Zimmer-esque melodic progression and ambience give a feeling of staring into the void. Tom Snowden’s haunting vocals permeate the track’s emotional message – “please please please don’t get me wrong”.
COBAKI SKY picks up where 5 O’CLOCK left off, with wailing, vulnerable synths juxtaposed against a typically powerful, resolute Willaris. K bassline. However, the track doesn’t just jump into the immense, earth shaking drops we are used to right away, instead opting to take its time with a more considered, patient structure.
Heart-achingly honest, INDIFFERENT is the most sorrowful track we’ve heard from Willaris yet. Based around soft, melancholic piano, feature artist Gordi’s anguished vocals demonstrate incredible vocal range. This is fitting, as the track is a fine example of Willaris’ own range as a producer, showing how open and raw his music can be amidst his booming, head-banging dance work.
DETACH is a leap back into Willaris’ trademark, transcendentally relentless melodic techno. It parallels to previous hits such as Natural Selection and Dour Nights but remains within the aesthetic of the EP. Arpeggiating, sporadically glitching high-ends and leads keep the mood, while gradual distortion simultaneously works to build up to drops and create a sense of tension within the track.
PAST LIGHT finishes the trilogy of GET WITH MY LIGHT and INDIFFERENT, providing a jolting full stop to the EP. A thoughtful, reflective epilogue, the track combines previous elements on the record, with melancholic piano and Zimmer-esque strings. A nostalgic atmosphere reminds us of simpler times. Oscillating, melodically-scaled synth progressions increase in distortion. All elements build to a giant crescendo, and just as the song feels it will drop into another pounding dance section, it ends. Abrupt. A beautiful build up with no resolution. Perhaps a clue into the conditions that created the EP.
While the usually insane, relentless and pounding qualities that made Willaris. K initially burst onto dance music radar are few and far between on LUSTRE, as a body of work it is an exemplary showcase of emotional range through superb production quality. Aside from maybe DETACH, fans of Willaris won’t find similar dance “bangers” to previous hits such as Alchemy or his remixes of Underwater (Rufus Du Sol) and Hands (Exhibitionist). If you’re after something to pump your fists to, this EP is not the place for you. However, LUSTRE is hardly a step backward, rather another incredibly impressive addition to the Australian producer’s repertoire of eclectic and emotive electronic music.
With another EP, Full Noise, set for release next month, Willaris. K continues to prove himself as an exciting and important player in the Australian and international dance music scene.
Photo: Liam Pethick