Introducing the bruised late-night soul of breathe. with ‘Are You All Good?’
Remember MOVEMENT? The enigmatic, buzz-worthy Sydney trio became blog darlings by releasing a string of consistently excellent singles and a debut self-titled EP across 2013 and 2014 before wordlessly disappearing into the same ether that their sultry brand of R&B seemed to rise from. Seemingly, they were a band poised to capitalise on the alt-R&B explosion occupying much internet real estate at the time, Australia’s answer to THE WEEKND or HOW TO DRESS WELL. Every now and then I’ll find thinking of Movement, and lamenting the loss of a group that ranks somewhere up there with Australian music’s most enormously promising what-if stories.
Enter, BREATHE., the new collaborative effort of producers SEAN WALKER (formerly of Movement) and ANDREW GRANT (formerly of sunnied, dance-rock leaning duo THE TAPES), who’ve introduced their bruised, late-night R&B style with the gorgeous visuals for their debut single, ‘Are You All Good?’. Born in early morning recording sessions as a way of reorienting their careers following the dissolution of their respective projects and after growing disillusioned with their experiences inside the major label system, breathe. pulses with a DIY ethos and a focus on crafting honest and emotionally authentic music.
Hypnotic and shadowy, ‘Are You All Good?’ buries its heaving emotionality within a deceptively simple but sumptuous bed of raw, exposed drums and throbbing, low-end bass. Dig down far enough into that emotionality and you’ll find at the track’s centre an affectionate and earnest ode to friendship, submerged lead vocals layered atop one another, cycling around and around as if engaged in a silent, constant conversation: “Are you all good? / Are you alright? / I’m in your neighbourhood / For your darkest times”, “Tell me how you’re feeling / Now we’re all alone / I wanna whisper you something / That you already know”. Luxuriant production, deep and rich and soaked through with a Shiraz-burgundy, brings you close enough to hear these sorts of intimate conversations at play in breathe.’s music.
Directed by Walker and Grant themselves, the simply conceived, minimal visuals for ‘Are You All Good?’ make the perfect accompaniment to the track. A stationary camera gives a fly-on-the-wall interior perspective into a protracted/lengthy, seemingly aimless car ride between two friends. We don’t hear the two friends talk or even see them arrive at any destination – but that’s not what matters here. It’s the silent, reassuring presence of one another, insulated from the passing, narcotising blur of the world outside.
“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?”, FRANK OCEAN once asked in an essay accompanying his 2016 album Blonde. Ocean’s penchant for using cars as a framing device for the exploration of identity and memories of growing up is well-documented. But breathe.’s use of the device of the car here on the visuals for ‘Are You All Good?’ strikes me as something similar, subverting the overtly masculine cliché of the automobile in favour of creating a space for open communication and identity exploration and authentic, honest emotionality in a touching depiction of male friendship.