There are many voices, places and influences swirling in Mosman Alder. The Brisbane six-piece may have unified their debut album under the sweeping title taken from the life’s-work of an ingenious 80’s scientist and astronomer-turned-author, but for the most part, inspiration for the album was found slightly closer to home.
Weaving the band mates’ experiences of travelling overseas, the bitter sweetness of returning home, online pen-pals, sharing dog-eared books from Japanese expressionists, navigating through shyness and Arts schools and the inevitable searching that comes with figuring out life through your early twenties is underpinned by the band’s love of music, art, storytelling and ultimately, their own friendship
Much of ‘Humdrum Star’ may have been written on German guitars and composed on separate trips across the globe as far flung as South East Asia and Scotland, but was performed and written, simply, by a band who look forward to practicing together.
Comprising of Valdis Valodze and Jackson Muir, who both sing and play guitar, pianist Katarzyna Wiktorski and violinist Robyn Dawson, who also make up the delicate back-up singing, bassist Liam Haug and drummer Damian Wood, like all good friends, Mosman Alder’s stories vary as to how they met – share houses and supermarket jobs aside – as well as differences in musical background as varied as heavy metal and classical training – they have together struck on the rare ability to combine their musical and song writing talents to make a distinctive sound.
While some bands would be out of their depth with a large ensemble, particularly the commanding use of piano and violin, Mosman Alder envelope the unusual instruments seamlessly and create a densely lush sound through the chaos of six members that shines just as brightly on headphones as watching the band perform live.
While the band’s debut EP ‘Burn Bright’ saw them exchanging yard work for a practice space, ‘Humdrum Star’ was recorded in the studio with Something for Kate’s accomplished front man and respected producer Paul Dempsey. Valdis accredits the stripped-back and refined new style to his tutelage – encouraging the band to swap instruments and singers for a textured and broader sound. After the album was polished, Paul announced the project to the world; remarking Mosman Alder were “…one of the best bands I’ve heard come out of Australia in a really long time”.
As lit by the kaleidoscopic colourful charms of sweeping violins, stripped back drums and winding guitars as it is by the sepia tones of sadness throughout the lyrics, ‘Humdrum Star’ is an elegant and twisted coming of age tale.
The buoyant melody on ‘Germland (of Julien Charbonneau)’ juxtaposes with the brooding tale of loneliness as the beat carries Valdis to a happier place, while the swirling, rain-drop-like piano pours through Jackson’s words on ‘Home Again’ – the steady drum keeping the song afloat.
‘Colours’ and ‘Try Your Luck’ strikingly mark the band’s contrasting and fearless nature, the former delicate and metaphorical lyrics soaked in reverb and bass and the latter an unflinching tale of a chance meeting and love interest – the call and response refrain of Valdis and Robyn working perfectly for a dream-pop anthem, while Katarzyna provides the subtly sweet harmony.