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Album Review: 'Morningside' by Fazerdaze

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, September 21, 2018  /  09:56 am
Album Review: 'Morningside' by Fazerdaze

Album review: ‘Morningside’ by Fazerdaze (-/-)

On the other side of the Lorde spectrum, New Zealand is an often overlooked as a musical hub. Its indie scene is made up of some of the most talented artists ever known, such as the Flight of the Conchords, Chris Knox and the Finn brothers that make up New Zealand’s former biggest musical export before Lorde, Crowded House.

With such a small population, the music scene in New Zealand would likely be very close-knit, with many opportunities for formerly unknown artists to quietly make a big impact. One of those quiet artists that has made significant waves in both NZ and abroad is Wellington native Amelia Murray’s lo-fi project, Fazerdaze.

Armed with simple track recorders and her electric guitar in her bedroom in Auckland, Fazerdaze recorded her debut LP, 2017’s Morningside, and was eventually signed by legendary New Zealand record label Flying Nun Records, who were responsible for releasing some of the most notable New Zealand indie acts of the past such as Die! Die! Die!, The Dead C and Tall Dwarfs.

Like Auckland in spring or summertime, Morningside is a breezy album that bleeds sunlight. The atmospheric backdrop recalls faded blue, yellow and pink tinted skies with the sun shining brightly and warmly on Amelia Murray’s smiling, sunglasses-covered face, her dulcet guitar tones brightly shining every song. Even the cover of the album shows all these vibes to a T.

The cheerful title comes from the Auckland suburb of the same name where Murray lives and records her music. It is also the same suburb where New Zealand pop superstar Lorde recorded her highly successful first album, Pure Heroine.

Many of the lyrics and themes constitute her reflections toward herself and the life around her as she navigated life in the suburb that on the surface seemed like nothing, but was the birthplace of two significant New Zealand albums of the 21st century.

“I feel like this album is really like my diary or something. It’s primarily about my experiences in Auckland and because I pictured the flats of Morningside in the album […] it’s important for me because it was born in my bedroom, in a ‘nothing’ suburb and it became something,” she said on the album.

It is the sunny sound that dominates the consciousness and flow of the indie music scene for the past 3 years: dreamy, jangly guitars with bright tones, heavily echoed or reverbed vocals and an overall sense of minimalism packaged in lo-fi recording methods.

She’s a lucky girl, indeed. Aside from being an alumnus of the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy program in Montreal, Morningside came out to unexpected global acclaim, which finally convinced Murray that music is a path worth taking.

After touring offers became more frequent, she eventually left her jobs of teaching guitar and a stint at an Auckland record store and pursued her dream. Touring the album brought her closer to developing her live sets as well as expanding her sound with a live band.

It is with the success and quality of Morningside that Murray was able to bring Fazerdaze to Indonesia for the very first time recently. While the live setup was not much, songs from Morningside translated well into the live setting, despite initially being thought of solely as a bedroom thing.

Despite being as far away at the bottom of the world, Amelia Murray’s connection with Indonesia is strong, due to her mother, who is Indonesian herself. On her first visit to Jakarta in 10 years, Murray felt she was much more prepared to handle and understand how the city worked much better than when she visited here as a teenager.

For one thing, being born and raised in a small city like Wellington, and then having the idea of a “big city” being the 1 million people strong Auckland, it isn’t strange for one to be struck by the sprawling, dense and intimidating atmosphere that a 16 million strong city like Jakarta might have to someone who has lived their whole lives in small towns.  

“Back when I visited in my teens, I guess the culture shock was so strong,” Murray reminisced.  

“Some things still amaze me, like not realizing it’s already midnight but there’s so many people still up, buying food and whatnot. It’s definitely way more different than Auckland,” she laughed.  

Considering Fazerdaze sold out their debut Indonesian gig at that time, where most of the audience enthusiastically sang all the words to “Lucky Girl” and “Jennifer”, it seems that Murray will feel forever comfortable with Indonesia.

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