Single Reviews: 23 June 2023: Ruby Gaines, Far Caspian, Jupe Jupe, Kagami No Buto, Michael Bakrnčev

Photo by Gemma Evans

Ruby Gaines - How It Looks 


Glaswegian Ruby Gaines uses her impressive lungs to make soulful proclamations about the threats to our independence that come from miscommunication in complex human relationships in her recent single "How It Looks". The lead single from Ruby Gaines’ upcoming four-track debut EP Heavy Good, this song reaches mountainous heights as it harks back to the passion-fueled, gospel-infused jazz singing of '60s luminaries such as Aretha Franklin. This nostalgic performance is given sheen through stellar production, but the true gusto comes from the direction of the emotionally-propelled songwriting.

Far Caspian - Pet Architect 


Irish multi-instrumentalist and producer Joel Johnston goes by the stage name Far Caspian and plays a modest and straightforward style of indie rock on his recent single "Pet Architect". Led more by mood than ideas, the lyrics here are ambiguous and not exactly decipherable beyond bland expressions ("How could I keep holding on?"), however, there is plenty of admirable aloofness to the delivery of the lyrics to ensure they aren't too dry, with Johnston lending his lines a strong sense of character. Based in rural Fermanagh, Far Caspian has maintained a DIY approach, performing and producing everything himself. His arguably middle-of-the-road takes have been, unsurprisingly, a huge hit on streaming services like Spotify, racking up tens of millions of streams. The appeal is obvious; it's music that expresses the complexities of living a life of platitudes but that doesn't require deep focus to absorb. What on earth is a pet architect? is it an architect you keep as a pet or an architect who designs structures for pets? Like the song by Far Caspian, such specifics are irrelevant; just enjoy the ambiguity. 

Jupe Jupe - As The Body Will 

new wave

Seattleite indie rock group Jupe Jupe create an intoxicatingly urban-tinged atmosphere on their recent single "As The Body Will". Taken from the album Midnight Waits for No One, this single sees the group use a palette of punchy drums, otherworldy synths, and stern vocals to communicate themes of mortality and the everlasting quality of dreams that take place in fallible human bodies. Jupe Jupe is comprised of vocalist and synth player My Young, guitarist, bassist and saxophonist Bryan Manzo, guitarist Patrick Partington, and drummer Jarrod Arbini on drums and percussion. The quartet are a tight ensemble, having been playing together since 2010, and can confidently and effectively deliver their melodically rich music that is as modern as it is nostalgic. 

Kagami No Buto - The Dictator 


Danish instrumental trio Kagami No Buto draw inspiration from traditional Japanese music, free jazz, and ambient on their recent single, "The Dictator", a comprehensive and explorative assimilation of their loose-but-effective drumming, gentle guitar lines, and heavy bass tones. Recorded live in the Trinitatis Church in Copenhagen, there is a liturgical bent to the stylistically minimal performance. The location means each strike of the snare and amplification of guitars is reverberated around the 17th-century church with intention, demanding to be heard for its acoustic scope rather than its message, a devotional appreciation of subtle nuances in the environment. 

Michael Bakrnčev - Elegy For Piano


Australian composer Michael Bakrnčev takes the listener to the depths of human emotion in his wondrous "Elegy For Piano". An elegy is defined as "a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead" and Bakrnčev transfers this meaning to the piano skilfully, poetically arranging notes that burrow into the soul, taking to their time to work through the complicated emotions of grief and loss with a strong emphasis on low tones that communicate a sense of desolation. Performed by pianist Alex Rainer at the Brisbane Music Festival in 2022, this newly released recording has a warm and natural sound that highlights Bakrnčev's narrative strengths and an astute awareness of the human condition.