Austin Zaff is a musician but he is also currently finishing his degree in Studio Production. With that in mind I had my ears focused on the production for Wasp on the Window. He does mention artists like Radiohead, Frank Ocean, James Blake, Perfume Genius and Bon Iver as influences which are basically influencers in terms of production style.
Suffice it to say I was impressed by the production. As a songwriter myself for well over twenty years I still believe almost all good songs should be able to be stripped back and there is still something worth listening to. Melody still matters to me no matter how inventive the original production is. After listening to these songs I get the feeling Zaff would agree with me.
Take for instance the impressive percussion aspects, white noise and more on “Compelled” which are juxtaposed against a catchy vocal melody that drives the song. Zaff will take time to splice a single vocal phrase or control a single note. This attention to detail is fantastic and rewards repeated and attentive listening. “The Veil” contains a hip-hop infused beat not unlike Four Tet but also experiments with pads in a unique way.
I was getting Radiohead vibes on “This Fleeting Dream'' when it came to the music but the vocals are distinctly different than Thom Yorke. The beat on “A Slow March” felt a little more pop infused but slightly off kilter in the spirit of FKA Twigs.
Being a good producer also means knowing when to let a song breathe. Space is important. “My Old Soul” contains swells with pads and leaves plenty of room for subtle elements to sound crystal clear. “Giving In” is another sparse song that lets the instruments breathe but with a different approach.
The energy gets ramped back up with “Spin Out” while “Just So” contains some memorable vocal harmonies. He closes with “Grainy Eyes” which is another different side to his production and songwriting. The vocals sound great.
Zaff is off to an exceptional start. The production and songwriting come together in the way I'm most fond of. Highly recommended.
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