ALBUM REVIEW: The Townhouses ‘Diaspora’

If you’re any sort of fan of experimental and/or chillwave music, you’re sure to fall instantly in love upon your first listening of any track by THE TOWNHOUSES. In saying that, The Townhouses’ most recent release Diaspora is no exception.

A soundscape of dreams and whispers, Leigh Hannah – the one and only man behind The Townhouses – blends together his obsession of ethnomusicology, his charming character and his mastermind as he controls a series of sounds that paint one big picture with just his own two hands.

His bio reads that “he wistfully mixes Tropicalia, Gamelan, African and Ambient soundscapes to create an experimental collage of breezy Summer vibes.”

Put it this way, if you were to swindle a fishing net into a sea consisting only of Leigh Hannah’s music, you would without a doubt catch a delightful quantity of ethereal, ambient rainbow fish.

Having just wrapped up a European tour, it’s a shame Hannah didn’t feature on the OutsideIn Festival bill that took place in Sydney last month. Never worry though, you can just close your eyes and listen to Diaspora and pretend your experiencing it live!

The record opens with ‘Our Trees Will Grow.’ The broken voices in this track summon you, making promises with your ear buds, telling you to stay for all eleven tracks. You should definitely trust these voices, because by the time this song concludes, I’ll guarantee that your mind would have already transcended.

Listening to ‘Geography’ is like peeping into a wishing well. A collaboration with Felix Weatherbourne, this track brings out that African tribal sound through the hits of a hand drum. Some spicey synth samples are introduced and reoccur throughout the song later on, as well as some beautiful harmonizing between Hannah and Weatherbourne.

‘Tokyo’ opens in a tone of confusion, which is kind of suited to the busy streets of the aforementioned city. Without any direct lyrics, this track takes you on a wave of moods through the different pressures of sounds and instruments. At times there are harsh cymbals, yet become over shadowed and eventually die out through a keyboard.

The next track to leave you in a state of bliss is Diaspora’s title track. Opening with a few gentle hits of a bell, expect a lot more of both this and chime sounds throughout the entirety of the track. Not only the title track but also the second song to feature a special guest, Hannah is accompanied by Sydney’s Guerre on ‘Diaspora’.

Experience a combustion of twinkling bells in ‘Kandinsky’, as well as jumpy vocal samples and soft tribal sounding drums. A track that lasts just under two minutes, this little instrumental fades into the next track, ‘Schoenberg’.

With enchanting vocals by Rainbow Chan, ‘Schoenberg’ enables you to exhale any bad energy you may have had before. As a continuation of ‘Kandinsky’, this track features the same vocal samples with similar composition, up until the halfway point of the song. Things get quieter, although Rainbow is still present. After this small moment of change, we notice that it acts as a build up to some richer instrumentation, such as a crash cymbal, that leads the track to it’s sudden departure.

‘Opium’ is quite a soft song, with each hit of the music being created dropping at the same time as a warped vocal sample. A tribal drum builds up in the background, increasing its importance but is soon contrasted to a trumpet steadily playing along with bubbly synths and keys.

Similar to what happened just before, ‘Heartsick’ enters as a continuation of ‘Opium’. With the vocal samples still prevalent at the start of this track, we become affixed to a slithering and intriguing tune that pretty much works to its title. It translates all the feelings and motions of heartsickness into a crafty instrumental track.

‘Talk’ features some pretty strings, as well as the sparkly bell sounds that we’ve become so used to. Introducing itself quite softly, it slows down and reboots itself back to how it started. During this, we listen to the heavenly vocals of Italy’s Giorgio Tuma. Eventually the tune graduates itself to more complex composition, yet still encapsulating a gentle, humble tone.

‘Melquiades’ opens as a very still and serious track. The flow of this songs moves in a quite a slow yet mildly progressive fashion, dipping into deep tones that make it come across as a song of loss and mourning.

‘Indian Elephant’ closes the beautiful Diaspora. Being the longest song on the album, it’s full of gentle yet ornate instrumentation. It features some stunning vocals that help illustrate the track without actually making any clear wordage. Towards the end of the track, some sort of brass instrument is present and sees Diaspora out.

Diaspora was mixed by Nick Huggins and released through Yes Please Records on the 20th November. You can grab a digital copy from The Townhouses BANDCAMP, PLUS you even get to pay what you want for it! What a nice dude.

You can also hear a lot of it this week on FBi Radio as it’s currently the station’s Album Of The Week!

Words by Hannah Galvin

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About:

An avid fan of Sydney’s jazz and found sound scene, as well as eating peanut butter from the jar.