The best way to speed up a chemical reaction is to invite change and introduce an outside force: light, heat, movement. As The Cactus Channel know full well, the same goes with sound – introducing change compels a composition forward, as it rises, falls, peaks and boils. On their first release of 2017, vocalist Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music, My Own Pet Radio) is this catalyst for change, as the band collaborate with him on a full EP, introduced by lead single “Sorry Hills”.
As frenetic rhythms build only to fall away, and melodies loop, dive, and stutter, The Cactus Channel make music that both functions on and demands reaction. This collaborative EP treads a thin line between alt-soul and the best of indie pop, swimming in compelling atmospherics and deftly weaving Cromack’s rich, drawling vocal and disarming, meditative lyrics through the band’s typically intuitive arrangements.
The Cactus Channel formed in high school, united by shared interests and a shared sense of humour – a love of soul music and the kind of hip hop, jazz, and alternative releases that spring from it, meant that from the beginning The Cactus Channel have prided themselves not just on eclecticism, but on the constant sharing of influences among their members. On this EP, the band venture into their second recorded project with a vocalist, exploring new influences and sonic territories.
Lyrically, “Do It For Nothing” is heavy with a kind of guilty melancholy that belies the wordplay in its title – Cromack’s dark, introspective lyrics are accompanied by an instrumental that buzzes with a slight sense of paranoia: in the song’s instrumental bridge, the rhythm section simmers as horns let forth quiet squeals.
The band takes equal cues from hip hop instrumentals and golden era Soul – counting the sounds of frequent hip hop collaborators BADBADNOTGOOD and the tight arrangement and production style of Stax Records as influences – as they build tracks that leave room for words to grow, breathe, and take focus, but never underestimate the power of beat and rhythm to build tension and release.
Cromack’s voice is afforded a new palette in this project, as his vocals climb through horn arrangements and rhythm with unprecedented light and shade.