Words: Doug Wallen
The debut solo album from Perth’s Stephen Bailey is a focused and immersive collection of tracks that is devastatingly dreamy and intimate.
Stephen Bailey’s regular band, Perth ensemble Mt. Mountain, invest in horizon-sized drone that stretches patiently and profoundly outwards. Yet for his debut solo album, Bailey ratchets the focus dramatically inwards for an eerily close-quarters LP on which he plays every instrument, right down to soft-stepping drums and floaty flute.
Silo’s quietness alone isn’t so distant from Mt Mountain’s sparser moments of climax-climbing, but Bailey’s supremely airy falsetto plays a starring role here. His is an unusually warm voice, rippling and wavering like a welcome mirage. Left to his own devices, Bailey covers a stunning amount of territory, from grooving, Nilsson-style piano ballads (‘Let’s Try Love’, ‘Take It Up’) to a distinct pair of instrumentals (the sprightly folk-pop centrepiece ‘Halcyon’ and the closing piano meditation ‘The Folons’). Lead single ‘Mr. Fair’ glistens with delicate fingerpicking, while opener ‘Demure’ churns slowly through low-lit Krautrock impulses and ‘Polyester Visions’ marries a buttery bass line and bleary organ hook. It’s all devastatingly dreamy, especially the diaphanous layers of the swooning ‘Sub Zero’ and unabashed Galaxie 500 valentine ‘Josephine’.
Despite the album coming out through Dusky Tracks – a label run byKing Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard guitarist Lucas Skinner – it’s flown mostly under the radar. Maybe that’s due in part to its modest cassette and digital release, or the fact that Bailey isn’t playing any live shows around it. But for all of Silo’s sleepy, spacey intimacy, this album deserves to cast its net much wider. Whether he’s conjuring wispy pop or wobbly psychedelia, Bailey has a rare talent for immersive songwriting that dazzles us with low-key revelations.
Check out the video for ‘Mr. Fair’ here.