16 Jul 2024

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Eden Mulholland


When reviewing Eden Mulholland's music a certain peculiarity of composition stands out, and that is his refusal or inability to be restrained by genre. Whether writing an anthemic lullaby such as The Big Empty for his band Motocade (2010) or the hauntingly aggressive The Virus for the dance work Body Fight Time (2012), or the tender yet manic Body Fight Time on his aptly named EP, Jesus Don't You Get My Jokes, the juxtaposition of disparate entities seems to come naturally to him. This makes for a filmic quality to much of his music and it comes as no surprise that he is equally at home composing for dance or film as he is for his band and solo work.

In his music, as in life, anything goes. Sadness can be uplifting, desire be as impassive as a rock and memories be as suddenly vivid as the monitor lizards he occasionally sees on his runs up the hill behind his house. If all this sounds poetic then the cap fits. Even his take on pop music involves unexpected arrivals and departures, conventional and operatic voices, ripped apart rhythms and ethereal bridges, solidly resounding hooks and moody ascents.

It's a compositional approach that is enough, as one reviewer said in reference to his Jesus Don't You Get My Jokes EP, "to give you major goosebumps". But this goosebump inducing element, similar to 'duende' in flamenco music or or 'wairua' in Maori composition, also yields pop's signature 'earworms' as evidenced in songs such as I will Echo from his Feed the Beast album (2013), or Holy Moly from his Motocade album Tightrope Highway (2009), songs that enjoyed radio and video impact and longevity. Consequently his artistic reach embraces both a longstanding loyal niche following as well as commercial recognition.

Eden is no stranger to touring and his live performances are equal to the task of delivering the epic yet intimate qualities of his songs. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, digital artist and vocals freedom fighter, he is known for his generous and uninhibited delivery, whether performing solo or with his bands. And he carries these student of life qualities into the studio where that preparedness to let rip and let go, and be open to new perspectives on his songs, stand his recording collaborations in good stead.

This certainly was the case with the production of his new album, Hunted Haunted which, as the title suggests, features songs that are variously on the run and according to Eden, needed some grooming or training touches to harness their strengths. He found the perfect collaboration working with producer, Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, PJ Harvey) together with recording engineer, Neil Baldock (Neil Finn, Sarah Blasko, Crowded House). Working with a producer for the first time was exciting and challenging. "I had to loosen the reins of my default songwriting settings," he says, "and that could only happen if I recognised I had them in the first place. Victor’s input played a pivotal role in drawing out more groove in the songs, encouraging me to let the melody soar over the instrumentation rather than competing with other elements that were all striving for the lead."

Eden spent two weeks in New York with Victor in pre-production, carefully refining each song. During that time, their work was backgrounded by the thrum of New York's packed-in humanity, noisy subway cars, and the sense that each person and scene has been stolen from a TV show. As they wandered the neighbourhood talking about music, life, and the universe, the sounds of New York's urgency and vitality became a driving force behind their work at Victor's West Village studio, and a key to the cohesive drive of the album.

Later in LA he worked with Neil Baldock to track the album and a further "grooming" of his songs took place. It was an engineering process that Eden describes as brilliantly chaotic. "Neil's quest for sonic perfection comes by way of denying the need for sleep and shutting out the outside world." Aided by the virtuoso drumming of Nick Gaffaney (Caro Knife Fight) the recording period went by in a blur of Mexican food, tequila, excess and exuberance. It was a "sleep-deprived joyous collaboration" which left its mark on each and every Hunted Haunted song.

For an artist who instinctively puts things together that don't at first glance belong, it is fitting that there is a wild quality to the playing and vocal delivery of Hunted Haunted. These songs, whatever their haunted or hunted lyrical bent, run out of the gates with what Eden admits is a "a shamelessly poignant lust for life."





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