Album Review: Flow State by Tash Sultana


Melbournian music maestro, Tash Sultana, has finally released her much-anticipated debut album, Flow State. Compiled of thirteen songs, all written, recorded and produced by Sultana herself, the finished product is a masterful blend of psychedelic calypso pop. Filled with bold hooks and lusciously layered melodies, the album proudly showcases the idiosyncrasies of Sultana’s unique style of music.

‘Big Smoke,’ ‘Mystik’ and ‘Murder to the Mind’ are reminiscent of Sultana’s breakthrough hit, ‘Jungle,’ and in some ways, are perhaps a little too familiar (there are only so many times one can listen to the same shredding guitar solo repeated in slightly different form). In saying that, tracks like ‘Blackbird’, a nine-minute guitar epic that sounds like it’s straight out of Van Helsing, and ‘Cigarettes’, which transitions abruptly from easy Sunday morning listening to a funkadelic frenzy, demonstrate Sultana’s diversity and unconventional approach to music. By far the most experimental song on the album is ‘Seven,’ an instrumental ballad which can only be described as an eccentric piéce de résistance.

‘Harvest Love’ and ‘Pink Moon’ are utterly goose-bump inducing, with raw vocals and soulful lyrics that peel back the curtain on Sultana’s vulnerable side. Meanwhile, ’Seed,’ ‘Free Mind’ and ‘Mellow Marmalade’ are far more languid and dreamy, transporting listeners to a euphoric bohemian dreamland where shoes aren’t a thing and tie-dye t-shirts are socially acceptable.

There is no denying Tash Sultana’s talent as a musician, and if someone were to ask me whether I enjoy listening to the album, the answer would be yes, very much so. While it is a shame that a handful of songs so closely echo Sultana’s earliest hit, ‘Jungle,’ (a song that the artist is desperately trying to disassociate from), overall Flow State is an elaborate debut album that exhibits Sultana’s innovation and musical creativity. 

Flow state Tour Details

  • Saturday 12 January – Pineapple Fields, Sunshine Coast
  • Thursday 28 February – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
  • Saturday 2 March – Botanical Gardens, Hobart
  • Friday 8 March – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
  • Thursday 14 March – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne
  • Thursday 21 March – Riverstage, Brisbane
  • Saturday 23 March – Mindil Beach, Darwin
  • Saturday 30 March – Fremantle Oval, Fremantle

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Album Review: Sugar Mountain by Jack River

9875394-1x1-largeJack River’s (Holy Rankin) debut album, Sugar Mountain, is an eclectic neon-pop masterpiece which pulls back the curtain on the sugar-coated utopia that Rankin fantasised about as a child but unfortunately, never got to experience. When she was just 14-years old, Rankin’s world became shrouded with tragedy when her younger sister passed away unexpectedly. Music became Rankin’s catharsis and from it, her alter ego (Jack River) was born.

Sugar Mountain offers so much more than just glittery sonics and catchy choruses. Rankin’s contemplative and often grief-stricken lyrics arouse a mix of emotions which make you want to dance and cry at the same time. The album contrasts stripped back acoustic gems like the melancholic ‘Her smile’ (which was dedicated to Rankin’s late sister) and the intimate ‘In Infinity’, with colourful pop ballads like ‘Ballroom’ and ‘Fool’s Gold’ (which was nominated for a J-Award in 2017).

In truth, it’s hard to criticise any of the songs on this album, but for me personally there are two stand-out tracks which first drew my attention towards Jack River: ’Fault Line’, which is an emotive anthem propelled by a powerful beat, gritty guitar hooks, and a truly cosmic chorus; and ‘Limo Song’, which is a dreamy sing-along with a distinct whistling hook that makes it hard to forget.

While most listeners probably haven’t experienced the kind of loss and suffering that Rankin has, the magic of Sugar Mountain is that it provides an escape for anyone who listens. No matter who you are or what you have lived through, Rankin opens the door and invites you to step into her fantasy-world, filled with both sunshine and storm clouds. This album is many things. It’s passionate, it’s intense, it’s dark, it’s dreamy and it’s certainly worth a listen.

Sugar Mountain Tour Dates

Thursday 13 September – Adelaide Uni Bar, Adelaide (all ages)

Friday 14 September – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)

Friday 21 September – Rosemount Hotel, Perth (18+)

Wednesday 26 September – The Cambridge, Newcastle (18+)

Friday 28 September – The Metro, Sydney (all ages)

Saturday 29 September – The Triffid, Brisbane (18+)