The Chandelier Room. Each Saturday night we put on a diverse range of really good artists, and occasionally some great ones. One of the great ones is undoubtedly Alkali Fly, who performed at The Chandelier Room for the first time in April.
Alkali Fly is nineteen-year-old Leroy Birch and Race To Victory Mountain is his first official release. This is an incredible album, but what's all the more incredible is that Leroy played all the instruments (voice, guitar, drums, bass, effects) and produced it himself from the bedroom of his share-house in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. Conceived and executed as a continuous suite of songs, it works beautifully.
On the first few listens, the album flows past like a dream. The songs all bleed into one another and there's no foothold – just a sense of suspension, of drifting, of being held aloft by the breezy arrangements and Leroy's impossibly high and pure voice. Did that just happen?! You're left with the feeling that something subtle yet significant has unfolded, but you don't quite understand it yet. Then, after a while, shifts between and within the songs start to come into focus and individual songs sink their teeth in: the goosebump-inducing ascent of 'Ban The Chords Discourteous';
the jaunty folk-pop hammer-ons of 'Minutia'; the eerie, spectral 'Peppermint', which seems to allude to domestic abuse;
and the absolutely stunning finale 'Spires'.
Each listen yields fresh kaleidoscopic wonders; each song rewards close listening both individually and as an essential part of the whole. If you're looking for comparisons, the best I can muster are the emotive falsetto acrobatics of Jeff Buckley, the heartbreaking balladry of OK Computer-era Radiohead, and the reverb-drenched atmospherics of Grouper. Essentially, though, Alkali Fly exists in a wondrous universe all his own. I really can't praise this album enough.
(Race To Victory Mountain is available on a 'name your price' basis from Alkali Fly's Bandcamp page. You can download it for free, but I strongly recommend you pay something, even if it's a few dollars, as I'm certain that if you download it for free, like I did, you'll wish you'd paid – it's that good.)