The first thought I had when pressing play on ETA’s new ‘#desert wave’ track, ‘secondwind,’ was of Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue’s duet ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’: A man and woman, a love lost. And of course, sultry vocals.
But perhaps it’s not the most apt comparison—‘secondwind’ is thematically far more cryptic, and musically it’s fairly simple, albeit in the best sense of the word. Co-produced with Jazzbo—ETA’s former Buffaloes bandmate—the trim instrumental relies on a cinematic, Western guitar twang, with echoes of a spooky synth (the key criteria for #desertwave, perhaps?), all backed by a lethargic, reliable drumbeat.*
These elements provide platform for the vocal performances, which I find most compelling. As the persona chants (“I never saw her again”) a woman, voiced by allswans, begins to hum and soon joins the duet. She is a destabilising presence—is she the disappeared woman, now returned?
As the track continues and male voice disappears, she continues—taking control of his story in his own words, perhaps from within him, playfully making them her own—the drums stop and her vocals layer themselves into a ghostly texture. It is haunting, almost cruel, yet beautiful in a classically romantic sense (much like ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’) and thanks largely to the quality of the vocalists and the heady instrumental, ‘secondwind’ is as pleasant and listenable as it is challenging and tragic.
Listen to ‘secondwind’ on Soundcloud.
Photo: Tony Manis
* Remarkably for how self-assured it comes across, ETA tells us that this was the first beat he ever made—about seven or eight years ago.