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TEMPESST Release Debut Album 'Must Be A Dream'

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TEMPESST Release Debut Album 'Must Be A Dream'

After a series of impressive and buzzed-about singles and EPs, London by way of Australia's Tempesst reveals Must Be a Dream via their own Pony Recordings. The LP features ten tracks of psychedelic pop grandiosity, combining the classic teachings of Laurel Canyon-esque folk harmonization with bombastic sensibilities found in the works of Love, ELO, Pink Floyd, Wings and more. Must Be a Dream is a paradox of complexity and musical prowess shrouded beneath deceivingly simple pop melodies, producing a dense, sun-kissed record. It explores themes of longing, love and loss, substance abuse, the death of loved ones and remembering the beauty beneath it all.

The core of Tempesst started more than a decade ago in the small coastal town of Noosa with twin brothers, Toma and Andy Banjanin. Growing up in a musical family, the pair joined the church band at 14 years old and performed regularly for the next few years, learning crucial lessons along the way. "We picked up a lot from that whole experience, including working with older guys who taught us music theory and how to play as a band," recalls vocalist Toma. "That's also how we met Kane Reynolds and Blake Mispieka, our keyboard and the bass player- at church when we were teenagers."

As with most creeping into adulthood, the Banjanin brothers eventually left home only to discover a whole new world of music, ideas and ways of living that weren't part of their previous purview. After a short stint in the UK, Andy moved with his brother to Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY, the then-heart of the indie movement in the late 2000s. Subsisting off of bagels and pancakes from the local CostCo, the brothers soaked in the intensely thriving DIY ethos that permeated through the local scene, developing their own ideas and starting home recording projects. Meanwhile the culture, ideas, and music began to take hold on both, exposing them to vast amounts of previously undiscovered music by names like Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Wings, Electric Light Orchestra and more."

After a year in Brooklyn, the conclusion of the twins' visa forced a move to Hackney, London, where the pair hunkered down and got serious about home recording. Rounding out the lineup with guitarist, Swiss-American Eric Weber and old friends Kane Reynolds and Blake Misipeka, the need to practice in a densely populated city like London helped facilitate the creation of a studio. "We started out with a basic production studio that Tom kept at his house but one of the biggest challenges in London is that you can't make noise," recalls drummer Andy. "So we began looking for a rehearsal space and came across this warehouse, which was way bigger than anything we were looking for but got us wondering about what it would actually take to set up a proper studio."

As the band started to piece together the studio in that converted warehouse, the label came with it and thus Pony Recordings was born, completing the circle of DIY and changing the way that the band approached their art. With a studio now in pocket, Tempesst's approach to recording was meticulous and careful- far and away the opposite to prior experience dictated by budgetary limitations and strict studio hours. "These days artists are expected to do so much themselves and we have always been slight control freaks anyway", states Andy. "DIY is part of everything that we do, so that extends to our label, the studio, the videos, all of it and really it's just how the indie music scene has evolved." Toma adds, "With the studio, we have time to work on all the key things that have become quintessential to our sound but also experiment and add an element of surprise, whether that is a weird synth solo or a key change. It's those little departures that keep the listener on their toes."

Crafted and produced entirely in the band's studio with the help of long-time friend and producer Elliot Heinrich, Must Be a Dream is a massive step forward from their previous short format releases; a wide-eyed excursion of folk-tinged psychedelia with nods to Spirtualized,, the Flaming Lips and the Beach Boys skewed a modern view of melodicism on par with favorites by Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes. During the LP's recording though, it was classic rock and seminal influences like Phil Spector that cast the longest shadow. "Anything that Phil Spector has touched was a huge influence, whether his classic sixties 'wall of sound' productions, to the 70's stuff like the Dion LP," says Andy matter of factly. "But we also looked to everyone from Scott Walker to Jeff Buckley to Nick Cave on the vocal side, and to synth work from other 70's acts like Can and Wings." Toma concurs, adding that "vocal arrangements were definitely inspired by Eagles and the first Crosby Stills & Nash LP, as well as the narrative storytelling of Joni Mitchell on Ladies of the Canyon and Blue - two favorite records of mine."

A soaring track which layers vocal harmonies on top of reverb heavy instrumentation, the expansive "On the Run" is orchestrated far and wide into a massive psychedelic pop exploration It is all brought back to earth by Toma's slithering baritone and stories of death, substance abuse and the loss of innocence forever. "It's about a close friend who disappeared for a decade and returned as someone completely different, and it's an ongoing trauma," recalls Toma. "When I connected the music to the lyrics to try and finish the song, it felt like it had a rolling rhythm, so the chorus fell into place from there. For me, this song carries a lot more emotional weight."

The album's "Mushroom Cloud" serves as a nod to Jeff Lynne and ELO with a chorus of vocals, keys and a swelling backdrop of additional instrumentation. And while the track itself is dramatic enough, "Mushroom Cloud" tells a tale of being the pain of love, tracking the consequences and emotional violence it has wrought and asking the key question of why those we love can cause us the deepest pain. "'Mushroom Cloud' was the first song that we completed on the album and it set the tone for a balance of familiarity, the element of surprise and the weighty dark topics that I wanted to explore," recalls Toma. "There is a pleasant synth line that runs through the entirety of the song and that, juxtaposed against the ideas, makes for an interesting comparison."

Opening with a driving drumbeat, "High On My Own" explores the band's humble beginnings in a rural town and juxtaposes their comparatively "grown up" peers versus their life, the search for meaning and finding your own way. The chorus of the track ascends in a half speed section that reveals a shimmering group vocal and angelic synths- a massively beautiful nod to the band's Penecostal background. "This was based on an old loop that Kane and I had that we put together based on a random idea," says Toma. "Once we had settled into the studio, we discovered some of these old ideas and repurposed them, in this case we wanted to push the listener into a single direction and then pull the rug out from under them- it's very representative of the lyrics."

In this time of upheaval, chaos and uncertainty, the album's title track reminds the listener that there is plenty of good out there and that it can eclipse the dark forces that surround us. "With all of the stuff going around you, it is still possible to have these moments of love and bliss," recalls vocalist Toma. "It's important to surrender to those moments and be present."

Though Must Be a Dream is the culmination of four years of work and decades of preparation, it's only the first step in the evolution that is Tempesst, the next being taking the songs to the people and the albums beyond. "This record is the first time that I feel like I've had the uninterrupted ability to create and have full control at our own pace," recalls Toma. "With this LP, we've created something we're really proud of that truly cements our identity as a group, at least. The joy of taking these songs live is something that we're really excited about."

Listen to "Must Be A Dream" here:

Photo Credit: Gyorgy Laszlo


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