Machine / The Valleys
Released: 17th Feb, 2013
Label: Tru Thoughts
“A remarkably wonky pop document” – CLASH
“Brilliant” – GOLDIEROCKS (SELECTOR/NME RADIO)
“Starts dark & mysterious, but eventually the groove finds you! Deep.” – KCRW
“Machine” / “The Valleys”, out on 18th February 2013, is the first official single from Natural Self’s upcoming album ‘Neon Hurts My Eyes’, which follows in March, unveiling a striking departure for the producer and DJ as he takes on the role of singer-songwriter fully for the first time.
This official single comes after the upfront track “Red Wire Blue Wire” was leaked as a free download to introduce the revelatory new sound from Natural Self; showcasing an imaginative structure, dynamic beats and impishly offbeat vocal, it premiered with KCRW radio play and an online Clash feature to widespread praise from tastemakers, blogs and music fans, sparking much anticipation for more new material.
“Machine” / “The Valleys” now brings two more unique yet eminently radio-friendly tracks from the album, starkly contrasting in sound and feel.
“Machine”, with its driving melody and multi-layered synths, casts a chilly, bewildered atmosphere that is nonetheless packed with insanely catchy, smile-raising hooks; the lyrics reflecting on the uniform cult of cool. “It’s kind of a cold, cynical song in sound, but really it’s idealistic; it’s about meeting a certain kind of people that seem to be so concerned with their vision of being cool, they lose themselves and you can’t even tell who they are anymore. They lose a bit of their humanity… it’s really difficult to connect with them”, says Nathaniel Pearn, the man behind the Natural Self moniker.
The AA side is an inspired cover of the Electrelane song, “The Valleys”. It features the only guest vocals on the album, sung by Tanya Auclair and Milly Blue, alongside Pearn himself, and then layered heavily to recreate the choir sound of the original. Having been thinking about covering this track for years, Natural Self finally alighted on the formula, and his ambitious production brings a heavy groove and a spectral feel to this song.
While shades of his early hip hop, funk and tropical influences remain, fans of the distinctive style coined on Natural Self’s last two albums – 2008’s ‘The Art Of Vibration’ and 2009’s ‘My Heart Beats Like A Drum’ – will be forgiven a double take on hearing the new sounds pouring out of him. His inventive sonic landscape, a highly poised confection of beats, bleeps and noises drawn from a vast textural palette, is now more redolent of Radiohead and the Beta Band; while a tight, melodic pop-but-not-pop sensibility aligns the songs with Little Dragon or James Blake. Having previously enlisted guest singers including Andreya Triana for main vocals, here Natural Self lays himself bare. Immersive and synth-heavy, this is electronic music with warmth and heart, a sense of being at once futuristic and nostalgic as it explores themes of technology, the environment, the passing of time and our place in the world.
Since his last LP, Nathaniel Pearn has moved to London from the comfort zone of Brighton, and spent time touring the US; this shake-up has brought out new influences, a fresh perspective, a sense of urgency and the confidence, he says, “to do something different, something more cohesive – I wanted to push myself more. As much as I love production itself, I needed to do something live – where the music would come out of me.”