In his first full length recording, Built on Glass, Australian artist Chet Faker (humanly named Nick Murphy), sets you down within an electronic haze of emotion. His fascination for jazz is well documented on the record with the looseness of sounds and open space outside of the verses, along with the use of a relaxed siren-like saxophone that comes in and out of songs. “Oh my happiness, some kind of fucked up mess,” one of Faker’s lyrics taken from his song, “Melt,” describes much of the root of emotion on the record; it’s more like a purple sense of sadness, less of a shade of black.
The songs on this record rise from a smoky and sultry atmosphere, as if cast from a small dimly lit jazz club, and combine electronica production styles with over layered harmonies. At times though, especially on “Talk Is Cheap,” which is still one of the leading tracks on this record, Faker underutilizes his voice with monotone level melodies. Upon entering the higher octave range in the chorus of this song, including others, the melodies become more clearly defined, though, the instrumentation and synthetic beats remain the stronger figure.
The song that propelled Chet Faker’s name across international waters was his version of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” as featured in a Beck’s Sapphire beer commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl in 2013. It’s a fantastic arrangement of the song, and much of this record fits within the suit of that sound. You will find that, though, that there is less experimentation across the collection and more of a reproducing of the singular formula.
Built on Glass, collectively, comes across as a fragile form of composition, with fewer areas on the record that extend beyond the boundary; it’s comfortable to listen to, almost too much so. With this set of material, Chet Faker lacks differentiation between similar artists with high swooping, high echo choral segments set on the crown of programmed instrumentation.