Ask Gotye about his new album Making Mirrors and he’ll speak not of songs, but of sounds. He’ll describe the various valves through which strings and choirs cycle on his Lowrey Cotillion, a vintage organ bought for 100 bucks in a second-hand shop that features on the record. Or how he constructed a bassline by sampling the Winton Musical Fence, an unlikely instrument he discovered in the outback of Queensland, Australia, comprised of five large metal strings attached to wooden fence posts and a resonant chamber. He may mention the horn break from a traditional Taiwanese folk song he discovered on a 1970s Cathay Pacific promotional record, which he sampled, sped up and dubbed out, before introducing it to some Turkish drum sounds. Or the unique, virtual versions of acoustic instruments - among them a chromaharp and an mbira - he created by painstakingly multisampling every note.
Listen to Making Mirrors and you’ll be drawn in by the details, transported to a world where every moment matters. This is pop at its most precise, but also electronic music at its most emotional. The record delves into dub, Detroit-era Motown soul, stadium-size politipop, synth-folk and world music on glorious, sprawling, huge-hearted songs.
Gotye (pronounced Gauthier) first found fame in his native Australia with his second album, 2006’s Like Drawing Blood. Radio station Triple J named it their album of the year, as did iTunes on its release in Europe in 2008. It was recently voted the 11th greatest Australian album of all time. In Britain, Like Drawing Blood became a cult hit while in the States, it made waves after Drew Barrymore fell in love with single Learnalilgivinanlovin’ and used it in several of her films.
Making Mirrors, its extraordinary follow-up, was more than two and a half years in the making. To write and record its dozen sumptuous songs, Gotye moved from Melbourne to a barn on his parents’ remote five hectare block on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. There, he had the space to permanently set up his growing array of instruments and recording equipment, and found the isolation that allowed for sonic experimentation and recording at any time of the day.