Des Miller
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Des Miller


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"Des Miller - On The Surface of Solitude Review"

Friday, October 05, 2007
Des Miller - On The Surface of Solitude Review

Sydney, Australia
It's really easy to write a review for an album of poor quality. One can dismiss it in a few lines. So what do you do when an album that completely includes you from the first listen? You lie down on the floor, in the dark and listen. Listen to the beautifully tragic nature of art. Such an album is Des Miller's debut full-length On The Surface of Solitude.

It is hard to believe this is a debut effort. The sounds and arrangements tend to point to a songwriter with a depth of experience. I feel that a great deal of thought, intent and purpose have gone into the making of this record, and it shows. Care and sincerity seep through the speakers like sun's rays creeping around a corner.

The very opening of the record seems to ooze like slow dripping honey. Borderline On Fire begins with an organ rich in tone and tremolo that sets up the superior quality of the song. The vocals release with a deep beauty and is interweaved by a melodic bass line that plays off both the tone colour and melodic content of Des Miller's baritone vocal. When the band breaks into full swing the track opens up to an indie-pop sensibility that will surely catch the attention of certain radio networks.

There are the tender moments such as 'One and the Same', where voice and guitar intertwine in perfect combination, also of note in this track is the hunting violin drowned in reverb that will send a shiver down the back of those with the coldest of hearts. There are moments of wonderful homage such as Time which owes to the Freewheelin' period of Dylan, right down to its jangly low-fi guitar solo. Then there are minutes of sheer joy for the listener such as the current single 'Knife Edge'. This reminded me of Skeleton Jar period Youth Group but with a more spacious arrangement and production, from the ever brilliant Berkfinger.

The lyrical content of the album revels in romantic imagery. From the naturalistic landscapes in Autumn (I'm Sorry) to the rhythmic rhyming schemes of the title track, Des Miller it would seem, is very well read. The most notable text being my favourite track, Lucy, a meditation on the thoughts of a girl travelling through existence, yields my most loved lyric - time it wounds all heals but the pain remains, close your eyes and make it go away.

So as to sum up I would like to say one thing. It became a real challenge to distil this album into a few simple words. There is simply too much content in this album to write and discuss in this space. You will have to buy it and listen for yourself.

post-script - The album artwork is also worthy of mention. From the fabulous Katherine Brickman at greedy Hen, her canvas' are full of depth, natural beauty and insight. Ohh and one more lyric - the final lines from the closing track 3PM.

'Dreaming of freedom
Screaming for more
Moved by the condition they work on, they work on.'
- The Sandwich Club

"Knife Edge Review"

Indie folk maestro offers a tempting taster

Sydney lad Des Miller has been making waves down south of late with an impending new LP set to impress. But now we look at its precursor, this EP, which contains a remix, an extension and a radio edit of tracks that appear on the LP, plus one new song. Miller’s vocals are instantly enjoyable, possessing a rich and dreamy quality like that of Jens Lekman. Lucy is distant and hazy, working to the advantage of the aforementioned languid vocals of Miller, allowed to swirl amongst acoustic strums and rustic percussion. Knife Edge has a strong feel-good pop element and is further complemented by simple, sweet guitar and organ combinations. Requiem is more downbeat but is lyrically strong and still a very good track, vocal layers appearing sneakily and disappearing again. It’s only a taste of what Miller is offering, but the taste is good. My hungry ears await the LP.

- Rave Magazine

"OSOS Review"

Hot on the heels of his Knife Edge EP, Des Miller has fired out another fine set of country-tinged tunes that alternate between sizzling with life and stewing with contempt. This is in no small part due to his forceful voice, alternating mid-song between a Brian Ferry croon and a much more anguished cry effortlessly. Time, with its droning stream-of-consciousness phrases and sharp jabs of lead guitar, recalls Bob Dylan at his most free-wheeling, if he ever got around to those singing lessons. Further on, the slow-burning atmosphere of the title track feels like marching off to a War you don’t expect to return from, hauntingly ominous whistling and all. Just make sure you don’t listen to album closer 3pm in the comedown hours, the brooding lyrics and mournful guitar and piano layers would even be enough to make those preppy kids from High School Musical reach for the razor blades.

- Rave Magazine

"On The Surface Of Solitude"

"It's hard to believe this is a debut album as the songs project a depth of musical experience. Des Miller is a modern singer with his heart and soul in the framework of lyrical folk tradion. You may have also heard a few tracks from this album already, more specifically Boderline On Fire which is getting regular rotation of FBi Radio.

Recorded in people's houses, old garages, on friend's pianos, across dunes, in kitchn pantries, behind the curtain in the basement under a balloon shop and next to an old cooktop on the rocking chair in the sunroom of a slanting bungalow above the hills, they say On The Surface Of Solitude was inspired by the philosophy of the French, the cosmic soundscapes of the British and the rhythms of the Americans.

Each track paces itself, teetering on an average of four to five minutes each, proving that Miller is clearlry not a fan of adhering to the radio norms and instead takes his time unveiling reflectionsof the influence of Dylan, Jeff Lynne and The Stands, which echo throughout the album. But with modern production and a Des Miller slant, it is brought to the present day.
This album will ensure a smooth lull into relaxation and sleep with the combination of raw acoustic folk/blues rhythm (Time) and the occasional string section (One and the Same) with Miller's deep and occasional pitchy voice complimenting each song."


2007 - BSR000: 'Knife Edge EP' (BSR)
2007 - BSR002: 'On The Surface Of Solitude' LP (BSR/MGM)
2008 - BSR008: 'Strange Places Single' (BSR/MGM)



Des Miller was born in 1981 in the valley between Mount Bob and Leonard's Leap. He grew up on the shores of lake Bowie and cut his teeth on the Strawberry Fields. He's a modern songwriter with his heart and mind firmly in the lyrical tradition. He teaches political economy and lives in a balloon store. He bought that coat for a great price in Paris. He pokes his camera out of car windows and borrows other people's Whitman. They were not his legs in that photograph.

You might have heard him before. Des was in bands but they kept breaking up. He plays bass and co-produced Kelly Saunders and The Maple Trail. He's sat solo on stages with his acoustic guitar. He's played with Jens Leckman; Darren Hanlon; Dappled Cities amongst others. That was probably Des on Triple J, or FBI, or 8RRR, or 2SER, or PBSFM. Des now plays almost permanently with his band: The Magnetic Heads

Des sounds familiar – like Martin, Byrne, Yorke, like your father's records, like that bum in the Barri Gòtic doing It Ain't Me, Babe. But he has a sound entirely his own.

After releasing his debut record On The Surface of Solitude to acclaim, Des has gathered his touring band The Magnetic Heads into BJB studios to record a superbly catchy follow-up. The sound of which is captured in lead single Strange Places

Des' vocal demands attention, with ranging heights and melodies reminiscent of David Byrne swelling over his ever-mesmerising mezzo-baritone. Magnetic Heads bassist Will Miller and drummer Christopher Rudge (also of Dolly Rocker Movement, Flying Foxes ) evoke the punchy rhythms of Scary Monsters , whilst guitarist Evan Lock, pianist Robbie Moore, and new feminine face ..boards Lucy Kaldor, pierce the steady clonking of cowbells and woodblocks with cranking guitar solos and unforgettable synth melodies

Des also drew upon the community of artists milling about BJB studios during the recording. With cameos from Ned Cooke (Dappled Cities) on Strange Places, the record is littered with local indie-star appearances of the likes of Aidan Roberts (Belles Will Ring, The Maple Trail), Alistair Wright (Cloud Control) and again mixed by long-time studio companion Simon Berkfinger (Philadelphia Grand Jury).

range Places is available DOWNLOAD ONLY on iTunes

With artwork by Greedy Hen, the self-produced sci-fi-folk-pop album was:
• Album of the week for 2ser 107.3
• Album of the month for RUSSH magazine
• Top 10 Tipsheet for PBS107.3
• Knife Edge single of the week for Inpress Magazine and high rotation
• Borderline On Fire ‘Tune of the Week’ on Fbi 94.5 and high rotation
• 4 album tracks receiving nation-wide play on Triple J
• Album track ‘Time’ featured by Richard Kingsmill on ‘2007’
• Featured artist at Blue Mountains Folk Festival
• Supported Jens Leckman, Darren Hanlon, Dappled Cities

"Music like that of Des Miller's is a welcome Change " - Inpress Magazine SINGLE OF THE WEEK

"The bastard son of Morrisey? There's certainly plenty of that old buggers sensibility and vocal tonality for that matter in Miller... ominously effective" DRUM MEDIA