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Armlock Share New Single “Power of a Waterfall” + Announce New Release “Trust” due June 2nd via Solitaire Recordings

April 10, 2021
Phoebe Lou

Share New Single, “Power of a Waterfall “
Announce Trust  due June 2nd 2021 via Solitaire Recordings

Multi-instrumentalists Simon Lam and Hamish Mitchell are today revealing their new project, Armlock alongside sharing the debut single, “Power of a Waterfall” and announcing details of Trust which is set for release on June 2, 2021, through Solitaire Recordings (physical release set for Summer 2021). Previously the Australian duo have worked together as 2/3 of the electronic outfit, I’lls (who earned comparisons to Portishead, Four Tet and Radiohead from Pitchfork) with Lam then forming Kllo alongside his cousin, amassing 100 million streams and support at GQ, Stereogum, NME, Pitchfork, The Guardian and NYLON, before helming his own Stereogum-backed solo project, Nearly Oratorio.

You can listen to their first single, “Power of a Waterfall” here.

A moody, fragile and incredibly more-ish new single release from Armlock will leave its mighty impression from the first listen. Armlock embraces such raw notions into their vision. This dark atmosphere engulfs the audience and keeps their attention transfixed. This brooding riff and harrowing tone keep the structure at the forefront of this creation, with the chugging beat following those notes and the percussive tweaks reflecting into the landscape, it’s the melody of the delicate vocal notes and the honest lyrics which push this exploration into this emotional turmoil. A striking single that delivers seriousness with a complex texture and addictive rhythm.

Trust is a remarkably nuanced collection of music. It’s one that explores disillusionment with adulthood and the inner conflicts that come with personal growth with an astute sense of self-awareness and brutal honesty. This first single, “Power of a Waterfall”, positions itself as the centerpiece to the record. The track emerged as the first song to be written for this debut collection and in doing so, set the blueprint for the sound and overall aesthetic, one that makes use of the empty spaces and fuses dense layers of emotion with warm, fuzzy textures.

Thematically, this first song looks to register dissatisfaction with the humdrum expectations of masculinity. The band describes it as being about “the general narrative of your adulthood that’s drilled in from a young age, and the relentless boredom that comes from fulfilling that prophecy… how mundane things cascade you into a kind of madness.” The finished product is a song engulfed in its own sense of resignation and disgust, generating something that is in equal bouts as heartwrenching as it is beautiful, wrapped in the sounds of warm acoustic guitar and heavy, traipsing percussion. Composed in a powerful fashion demonstrating the duo’s penchant for songwriting, it positions itself as a great preview of what is to come from the forthcoming collection.

“In some respects, Trust is a simultaneous documentation of progression and regression. A homecoming of sorts, influenced by the interim where we developed our skills as producers and our skills as artists. Armlock, as a vehicle, seems like returning full circle to where we started.” 

Trust, out June 2, 2021, is the debut release of the Australian duo, Armlock. It’s a record that explores trials felt in personal growth, from resentment to submission to complacency. A quiet, thrashing gem of songcraft, the record makes as much use of the intimate, empty space as it does of its layered, heavy instrumentals. Each one of these songs conjures a summer storm of internal conflict, with the angst and uncertainty that comes with realizing that you’re finished growing, and rather than feeling a sense of ease you’re left restless and discontent.

Multi-instrumentalists Simon Lam and Hamish Mitchell met studying jazz together at Monash University in Melbourne. While rehearsing standards for a small ensemble in 2010, the two discovered their mutual hatred of the genre, opting to explore experimental, song-based electronic music. Alongside Solitaire Recordings owner, Dan Rutman, they went on to form the group I’lls, releasing four records in five years, and, later, the two went on to form Couture. Simultaneously, Lam (along with his cousin Chloe Kaul) found success with the synthpop group Kllo, amassing over 100 million streams on Spotify and critical acclaim from Pitchfork, The Guardian, GQ, NME, NYLON, and Stereogum. Lam’s solo project Nearly Oratorio (also on Solitaire Recordings) has achieved acclaim in its own right, as has Mitchell’s work as a producer and designer for artists like Jack Grace.

With their first release as Armlock, the duo maintains the depths of I’lls’ electronic soundscapes but brings the warmth of analogue instruments with Lam’s clear, disillusioned singing upfront. He sounds both heartfelt and dejected in equal measure, with a dispassionate coolness that synergizes with the vulnerability of his lyrics. Live, the duo are backed by a reel-to-reel tape, with Mitchell on guitar and Lam singing, bridging their electronic past and indie present. 

Trust began as voice memos passed back and forth between the two, with early demos being recorded when the pair lived together in Yarraville, Melbourne in 2019. It took a minute for them to find their songwriting stride after so much time spent composing electronic music, but the record came together while recording in Lam’s home studio in 2020. The band handled every aspect of Trust themselves, including production, recording, mixing, and mastering. 

The sense of second-guessing and insecurity is at the heart of the record, musically and lyrically. Opening track “April” begins with Lam singing the lyrics, “Just when we were out of the gate/Honest to god I wanted to stay” over layered acoustic guitars. As the song builds, digital textures blink in and out of the background, Mitchell’s acoustic guitar working like a metronome until the drums finally come in. It’s a stunning moment, the band’s entire ethos presented in a song.

“Tabs” is a melancholic song about being in a relationship with someone who is doing a little bit better in life than you are. The song doesn’t pull any punches, with Lam lamenting, “I’ve got the losing touch/Wish that I kept tabs on all of the things that I wanted to have by now.” “Tabs” tackles themes of fear and shame, as Lam constantly wonders when his partner will finally see that he’s not enough. It’s a strained and distorted love song with a tenderness to the lilting melody, as a banjo and Juice Webster’s backing vocals rise at the song’s end. 

“Turf War” is an ode to moving on without closure. A lowkey guitar plays as Lam sings, “Never spoke that’s how I fight,” nailing the way the things left unsaid often hit the hardest. There’s an essence of mixed feelings to the track, combining bitterness at the loss of the relationship with a thankfulness that it happened in the first place: “I loved when my fingers froze/I loved when we got the perks/I loved when we missed the flight/We were vengeful through the night.” The song ends with wordless harmonies over a soft but insistent drumbeat, accepting that things will continue on, for better or worse, with or without reconciliation.

Even in its most poignant moments, Trust is ultimately a work of flailing and defeat. The record, beautiful but unavoidably heartwrenching, is one of questions rather than answers, none of which Armlock expects to resolve with any sort of satisfaction. But still, at least they’re asking them.

June 2, 2021
Out via Solitaire Recordings

1. April
2. Two Shots
3.  Turf War
4. Jade
5. Power Of A Waterfall
6. Tabs
7. Hanging Like A Pendant

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