The UK has always been the birthplace of music revolutions like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Oasis. The list could go on and on. The UK has also had some music revolutionaries—people who changed the way in which we think of music. London, the English capital city, is widely considered to be a mecca for aspiring musicians. This reputation was perhaps what made a married couple of Ruth and Kane Power leave their native New Zealand “with the sole purpose of making exhilarating and innovative progressive music, that explores the darker side of pop with the feel of a wide-screen road movie” as they state on their Facebook site. Calling themselves Death in Texas, they started to absorb the legacy of the city and mixed it with their innovatory ideas. The result is their debut LP “Pause Between Breaths”.
If I was to classify “Pause Between Breaths” in a genre, I’d say that, as their own description states, this is a pop-ish album. However, it’s not pop you can hear on the radio. The last couple of years have been very generous in bringing us pop artists that really deserve attention, such as FKA Twigs, Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Banks. Pop is no longer radio friendly; it became a platform used to express desires, depression or to issue a call to stay true to yourself in a society shaped by the pop (!) industry. Pop became something interesting, something that started to be seen also as a form of artistic expression, not only as a moneymaking machine.
RELEASE DATE: 27 November 2014 LABEL: Last Meal Records
How does Death in Texas fit themselves into this new environment? Their music comes from two quite contrasting environments—Ruth having experience with classical piano and Kane who used to be a member of metal and hardcore bands. Together they create something theatrical, concrete and yet delicate, like an iron butterfly. When Ruth’s voice seems to flow away into fantasy lands and her fingers flow through a piano with an immense skill, Kane’s drumming binds it all together with its incredible hard jazzy timing. Despite coming from two different musical worlds, they manage not to create “metal & classic”, but rather a beautiful blend with some new inspirations. “Pause Between Breaths” is a more sophisticated album than the previous DiT’s EP “We Will Implode”. On the latter, there still can be heard some dissonances between Ruth and Kane. “Pause Between Breaths”, however, brings a new quality with its clear and coherent songs.
The whole album is set in a rather chilled, almost jazzy mood, but when you listen to it closely you will be able to hear how intense the songs are. It has its dark moments like the opener “Music”, but also serene ones like “Synthesised Happiness”. It also has some weird jazzy tunes—for example “Laniakea”, which sounded a bit as if BadBadNotGood entered the studio during the recording and unveiled some of their craziness to Ruth and Kane. These beautifully composed tracks, with a slight Kate Bush manner, are enhanced with an impeccable mixing of Eduardo De La Paz, responsible for the sound on the albums of bands like Arcade Fire or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He makes Death in Texas sound big, as if they were about to rock some huge venues, but manages to do this without taking away the natural lightness of their music.
Death in Texas are following the right course of developing their sophisticated sound without sounding like emotionless technical masters, but rather like sad spring fairies. “Pause Between Breaths” is therefore an aesthetic experience, which requires a couple of closer listens to actually discover the full spectrum of the sound which it offers. Do it; spend some time with this album. It’s worth it.