Track x Track: The Kite String Tangle - Lustre
Beloved Aussie artist takes us through his highly anticipated third album of euphoric & emotional electronic sounds, track by track
Image credit: Mitch Lowe
Ten years since he dropped his breakthrough (and now Gold Certified) debut single Given The Chance, Danny Harley AKA The Kite String Tangle has gone from strength to strength both in the studio and on the live stage with his unique, addictive blend of EDM and indie pop, covering a wide range of genres and styles.
After dropping a handful of dope singles, the wait for his third album Lustre is finally over, packing twelve cuts of euphoric electronic sounds, with atmospheric, pulsating productions paired with upbeat, playful vocals, resulting in a slightly more optimistic record than we’ve heard from Harley in the past.
“It’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been with a record… I feel like it’s more cohesive, there’s themes of positivity and change, which have been for the greater good”, Danny shares.
To celebrate the release of Lustre, Danny was kind enough to take us through the album, track by track - have a listen and get to know:
This track was really fun to make. I love working with samples and the fact that this song has none of my vocals in it gave me the freedom to explore the production side a bit more freely. It’s pretty stacked with layers but I wanted there to be lots of percussion contrasting the analogue synths. The breakdown is fun to listen to on headphones because there’s lots of panning and tickly bits. All of my albums generally have an intro song that is more about builds and vibes more so than traditional song structures. Not sure why, it just feels right for an album journey. The chord progression also is 10 bars long, which is kind of unusual but adds to the driving nature because it doesn’t resolve when you think it might.
The way I worked for a lot of this album was to write the vocals first, which is the opposite way to how I usually write. This song was one of those. It was written with the vocal melody and guitar doubling it in the background. I feel like writing this way puts the melody first rather than it being an afterthought or trying to find a place for it. This is one of the slower songs on the record, although I still wanted it to have a dance-able groove. I leant into the swing to help with this. Lyrically it explores the sentiment of wondering / hoping that the spark you have with someone may last forever.
This song was originally written on just piano and vocal and had a much creepier vibe. I brought it back into the album world with the production but some of that unnerving feel still shines through. Lyrically it also occupies an uncertain space because it’s about dissociating from your reality when it all seems quite overwhelming and trying to determine if you’re where you want or need to be in life and in your relationships. In terms of the production this was one of the first tracks that I wrote that felt like it would dictate what the rest of the album would sound like and ushered in a more dance focused vibe for many of the other tracks.
This was one of the last songs to be written for the record and was the first single which is really cool and doesn’t happen often; at least for me. It’s good because you don’t get sick of it or stop relating to it before the release and it means it’s still fresh in your mind and exciting. Lyrically it came from an extreme flow state where it was almost like an out of body experience and the words were just coming out, and so I tried to just get out of the way. The result was a sort of surreal freeform brain dump. Elements of it came from a dream and others were unrelated but I challenged myself to leave them unchanged so that they became this little time capsule of that moment. The production came quickly too. Generally, for me, songs take forever to finesse and finish, but this song was the exception to that rule.
This was another song in which the vocals were written first. It’s definitely one of the more gentle songs and perhaps closer to what I used to write at the beginning of TKST. It’s about how you have lots of guards up when initially exploring a relationship, but eventually you need to somewhat submit to the relationship to give the other person, and yourself, the security and comfort to make the relationship succeed. I wanted it to have a positive and uplifting feel even when some of the lyrics seem uncertain, the journey is supposed to be one of completion and becoming wholly secure. Production wise I wanted it to feel like a song that you would hug your best friend or partner to at a festival. Sharing profound moments to music is very special and this is my attempt to facilitate that.
This is one of two instrumental songs on the album and is influenced by the early hours of the morning. Perhaps a sunrise. I wanted it to be euphoric and to have interesting analogue synths contrasted with the interesting vocal samples used. This is one of the first songs I used my vintage SH-101 synth, which is a recent addition to the collection. It’s a beautifully simple synth that doesn’t try to be anything but a basic monophonic synth, and that’s where it shines. You can hear it as the lead line throughout this tune.
A New Day:
A big part of this record for me was to move away slightly from darker lyrical themes and into an uplifting place. At least for a bunch of the album. This song, vocally, was one I wrote and kept coming back to because it felt really uplifting and positive. It’s about looking forward, no matter what happens tomorrow you’ll wake up and can make new choices and create your own path and it won’t matter what happened yesterday because you can make the choice to change. One of my favourite sounds in this is what I call ‘The Conch’ which is this kind of obnoxious horn sound that appears throughout and almost sounds like a call to arms which I thought was appropriate.
In My Head:
Leaning into the more club influences I’ve collected over time, this track was definitely designed to have tension and release. It still has a bit of a song structure because I can’t seem to shake that habit in my song writing, but I wanted it to hit harder than some of the other tracks on the record. It was one of the last songs to be written for the record when I was definitely leaning more towards dance tempos and four to the floor kicks. Lyrically, it’s about holding on to something that might be holding you back and how it’s often impossible to make a decision about something like that with absolute certainty and so you’re required to take a leap of faith.
Open My Eyes:
This song was written many years ago just after a relationship breakdown. It’s definitely the most personal song on the album but I really liked the intimate and vulnerable nature of the song and so I had to keep it on the record. It’s essentially about how these decisions are always for the greater good in the long run, sometimes it just takes a while for that to become clear. This is also the only song on the album with no drums, which was a challenge I set myself in the production phase of the song. I wanted it to be vocal forward and to only accommodate and accentuate the authenticity of the vocal. I grew up listening to pop punk albums and they always had that one acoustic song on the record, and often it was my favourite (them teenage emotions am I right?), and so I have a habit of always including at least one more stripped back and vulnerable song on my albums too.
Again, leaning into more club / dance influences, this was one of the last songs to be written for the record in my new studio space. A lot of it was built around the synth in the chorus / drop. I wanted to create the space for that synth to stand out and be as juicy as possible. I explored a lot more analogue synths on this record and this song is a prime example of that. Lyrically it has a sort of dichotomy between surrendering oneself completely to something and contrarily being overwhelmed and wanting to run for the hills.
Hide and Seek:
Vocally, this song was almost a bit of a collage of other songs I had written. I wrote the production first and I really liked it and it sounded hopeful to me which I liked. However, I really struggled to get a melody and lyrics that I liked on top. I tried so many different ideas and in the end I flew in some vocals that I had done from a few other songs and they worked so well. It was actually quite surprising and it wasn’t a process that I had tried before so it was a really interesting experiment and one I might try again in the future. Again you can hear my vintage SH-101 on squishy lead synth duties. Lyrically, it’s about finding it hard to express yourself and being semi-introverted. I’m a chronic over-thinker and this song is about that essentially and how little actually makes it to the surface and out of my mouth, for better or worse.
Straight To You:
This is another more club focused track with a bit of a swing. I like that it has almost an anti-drop the first time around. Plenty of build in this tune. Originally I had a tonne of arpeggiating strings in the second build but I opted to lean more into analogue synth territory in the end to be more consistent with the rest of the album. Lyrically it speaks to when things sometimes have a seemingly unconscious magnetic pull and you can find yourself always coming back to something without realising.
3 Nov - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
11 Nov - Howler, Melbourne VIC
25 Nov - Cry Baby Festival, Adelaide SA *DJ Set