A Bourke Street Mall busker, Tash Sultana has truly taken the world by storm. She is currently on a massive Australian tour (after an eventful luggage mishandling incident that made global news), and is set to become a major name in Australian music. So for those of you who have not seen her fantastically engaging and charismatic sets in Bourke Street, I strongly suggest you check out her EP Notion.
Tash, who is renowned for her masterful use of loop and reverb pedals in her live busking performances, brings this raw ostinati driven style to the opening track of her EP with ‘Synergy’. Her mesmerising vocals are gorgeous and lead the listener on an ominous, but surprisingly soothing journey. The piece, despite being driven by the same bass riff throughout, always feels fresh with Tash’s off-the-cuff guitar licks and funky percussion grooves. Without even listening to the rest of the EP, I’m excitedly anticipating what’s to come.
Second track 'Gemini' is already distinctively different, with the use of gentle synth pads over more stunning vocals and simple percussion grooves. The track is gorgeous, with a simple meandering synth solo that doesn’t push any boundaries but feels perfect for the easy going feel of the track. Even reverbed trumpet gets a quick feature to close the track, but in no way does it detract from the piece’s integrity.
Next comes the first single of the EP, namely ‘Notion’. Once again, the loop pedal style of Tash’s performance is evident with the gradual overlaying of guitar lines forming the backing of the track. Despite the simplicity, the track never feels monotonous, demonstrating Tash’s incredible musicality to know exactly when to vary her material. ‘Notion’ follows Tash’s distinctive slower, easy-going style, allowing the track to showcase her beautiful vocal capacity. The track breaks out into a distorted guitar solo, which is nothing life changing, but certainly shows off more of what Tash is capable of. Three tracks in and still nothing to fault.
‘Jungle’ was the second single for the EP, and is distinctively different in style from ‘Notion’. The back-beat guitar feel from the opening creates a quasi-ska feel to the track, and even the syncopated bass guitar riff leaves the track feeling like an updated rendition of Bob Marley. Once again, Tash uses the gradual build up and overlaying of sounds to construct the backing for the track, with the use of handclaps perhaps being the most striking and gratifying addition to the build up. Tash’s vocals are a touch cheekier and more theatrical in ‘Jungle’, another fantastic demonstration of the talent of the Aussie youngster. Once again, Tash pulls out another super distorted guitar solo to close the track, and I once again have nothing to fault. With only two tracks left, I begin to wonder if Tash has pulled off a flawless 5/5 album.
The last two tracks are live performances, being ‘Big Smoke’ Pt 1 and 2 respectively. The former opens with a super funky bass intro with a groovy wah-wah sound. The track is much faster than her other material and sounds more like a pop track with her harmonised vocals and explosive four-to-the-floor beats. Tash even breaks out into a beatboxing groove, showing nothing will hold back this self-taught superstar. Despite it being a live track, I unfortunately find the stop-start nature of the track detrimental to the flow of the piece. It’s still an awesome display of Tash’s talent, but I found this track the most frustrating of the EP to listen to and enjoy.
‘Big Smoke Pt 2’ isn’t quite as funky as the former, but the back-beat feel and chill guitar lines feel just so much more comfortable than the syncopated bass runs and driving beat. The latter features all the highlights of Part 1, including Tash’s beatboxing and delicately harmonised vocals, but without the stop start tempo changes. Rather, Tash breaks into the funkier bass line version as a separate second half to the track, which I prefer. Listening to Part 2, I just question why Tash chose to put the former into the EP in the first place, and unfortunately gives me no choice but to diminish my rating of the album to a still fantastic 4.5/5.
Tash has clearly demonstrated she is a brilliant musician and worthy of her ever-growing acclaim. Melbournian music lovers should most certainly check her out, and I would strongly suggest giving Notion a download. Coming into summer, Tash’s sound is perfect for a barbie or evening house party with your mates. I’m certainly keen to see what Tash will have for us in the near future!
Rating – 4.5/5
A massive thank you to the ongoing support of the Radio Monash editing team. This article was originally published on Radio Monash's website here.
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Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.