Artisan Guns’ debut EP, Bird and Bone, features a blend of intricate harmonies, swelling guitars and keys, and constantly shifting dynamics.
However, what sets the young and upcoming New Zealand four-piece apart from other folk-pop bands is their use of electronic effects, drum machines, and interweaving riffs to create an atmospheric sound which fully encapsulates the listener.
A perfect example of this is the first song on the EP, Tuesday Night. Lead vocalist Matthew Hope expresses a heartbreaking vulnerability and ache, as well as a kind of urgency and angst when he strains for some of the higher notes. The song also has three different time signatures, and some crazy syncopated rhythms, but this is not distracting and does not detract from the song in any way. Instead, the different parts transition smoothly into one another.
A recurring feature in the songs on Bird and Bone is a slow but steady build-up towards a crescendo. This feature can be found in the single, Autumn, which begins with a single guitar, and gradually introduces more and more instruments until the sounds become meshed together in the final chorus. For the ending of the song, the sounds are stripped back bit by bit, until all that is left is a haunting, harmonised, reverberating vocal line.
The sound quality of the EP seems slightly rough at times, but this just emphasises the emotions expressed by the band. It is not polished or even, and sometimes sounds similar to live sound.
The lyrics are often poignant. They are able to tell a story without being too detailed or specific, and in this way, many people could relate to them. The style is poetic and descriptive, especially in Autumn: “The naked autumn trees loom closer with the breeze / their limbs the bones that held our summer shade / I’m restless as the moon that covers us through June / with clouds that stretch and taint his evening gaze.” The combination of these lyrics with music results in some beautiful and resonating songs.
Overall, Bird and Bone is a wonderful debut EP that displays Artisan Guns’ potential for success in today’s music industry. Hopefully the band will become more recognised as it releases more of its music.
Label: EMI Records