Swazi Gold - Jehovah's Whispers
Swazi Gold have created a debut album that shimmers like the coast. There are six songs, two created by each member; through pure collaboration and participation. Swazi Gold are a true democracy.
Formed by the chief songwriters from Melbourne bands Crepes, Dreamin' Wild and Sagamore, this new band brings old friends together. Chris Jennings and Sam Cooper grew up in the Victorian coastal towns of Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, while Tim Karmouche was an inland man, hailing from Ballarat in the state’s north-west.
“We’ve been playing together for so long; in different mediums and in different bands. We’ve played our own key roles, but now we know what each other wants. Swazi Gold shows off our relationship from over the years, which is really cool,” says guitarist and bassist Jennings.
Swazi Gold’s other guitarist and bass player, Cooper, has a theory about the unifying power of their regional origins:
“It’s this kind of small town thing where you strive to be different and creative. Because you’re more isolated, you focus on your creativity and align yourself to similar people. I think growing up down the coast has meant I’ve continued to be drawn to people from other isolated places,” he says.
It’s this togetherness that’s at the heart of Swazi Gold’s debut album, Jehovah’s Whispers. Recorded in a single weekend in 2017 at the Cooper’s family home in Ocean Grove (affectionately termed the “Cooper Ranch”) Jehovah’s Whispers captures a musical intimacy and deep friendship between the three members.
“The bond with all the tracks on the album isn’t necessarily lyrical, but it’s 100% sonic. The simplicity of the instruments we use and the set-up we have is what’s really rad,” says Jennings.
“It’s a fantasy of what we imagined Jehovah might be whispering in your ear,” he adds, grinning.
Drawing from their collective love of African music, American funk, and quirky, melody-driven pop music, the album explores the space between conventional genres and styles of production.
“Using drum machines has made the song-writing process a lot quicker and opened up a whole new avenue stylistically. We can move more into that dance or groove-based style. It’s kind of an EDM style of production, without the matching sound. That’s how it’s different,” says synth and keys player Karmouche.
Lyrically, the songs address themes like moving to Melbourne, realising personal limitations and seeing a thriving country town fade to nothingness. There’s a brooding one in there for anyone who’s ever been ripped off, too.
But with Jehovah’s Whispers, it’s the impeccable timing from two drum machines that propel each track forward and bind the six songs so tightly.
“The drum machine is chomping away the whole time. In a live set, there’s a lot of energy straight away. Everyone’s dancing straight away; we’re dancing straight away. It’s really fun,” says Jennings.
Jehovah’s Whispers is an album that proves the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And in amidst the love and equality, there’s still a heap of bite and attitude.
1. Tumbleweed 04:24
2. Free Nelly 03:08
3. Disco 04:08
4. Shapeshifting 04:10
5. As You Go 03:51
6. Reflections 08:27
Format: 12-inch Vinyl LP
Label: Research Records
Released: March 2019
Genre: New Wave / Pop