Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Westerman’s ‘Drawbridge’ gets a psychedelic upgrade by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

This summer in the midst of the pandemic Westerman released his debut album, Your Hero is Not Dead, a sonorous and wistful work that is almost criminally soothing. Now, in 2021, the psychedelic-indie darling Unknown Mortal Orchestra have remixed the album’s opening ‘Drawbridge’, ushering in a new dynamic direction for the laid-back track.

The original ‘Drawbridge’ is our entry point to the album, a slow and atmospheric build up giving a taste of what is yet to come. The only lyrics – “Your hero is not dead” – echo the title of the album, and their harmony effectively showcases Westerman’s resonant tenor. Supported by a distant rhythmic base, it is a gently escalating intro, with the crescendo relying on piano interludes and the strumming acoustic guitar. At 2 minutes and 10 seconds it is an eloquent and brisk introduction, a faithful summary that nevertheless lacks the electronic elements present on the album.

The Unknown Mortal Orchestra treatment significantly amps up the tack, creating new textures with its lo-fi reworking. The increased treble of the remix emphasises the harmonies by stripping them of their comforting warmth, instead bringing them into conversation with the distorted guitar. The original track’s simple and melodic arrangement allows the space for this psychedelic sound to develop and hence it doesn’t seem at all out of place or forced. 

The guitar dominates this track – pulling the listener in with its winding whine – but feels organic and very welcome. This is partially due to the addition of more pronounced lows curtesy of the base drum, as they provide a counterbalance to the trebles and create a more dynamic, deep sound. Although the sound of this remix is no longer as clean and structured as the original, it is nevertheless successful in creating an ethereal and enveloping impression – an apt sate of being for an opening track

This remix lies true to Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s oeuvre, reminiscent of tracks such as “Multi-Love” and “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)”. Sharp, bold, vibrant and full of psychedelic dynamism, it is the perfect counterbalance to Westerman’s soft, 80s-leaning tone. Together, these two sounds create a vivacious and absorbing experience, and if the original track creates the impression of being held-up underwater, the remix is us breaking to the sun-drenched surface. 


Liza Kupreeva


Image: https://www.theguardian.com/

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