On their third studio full-length, Mildlife link microcosmic personal meaning with a macro view from on high. Chorus is the sound of singular entities coalescing into a wondrous whole. It’s harmonious togetherness and celebratory symbiosis. And it’s the band’s ultimate statement of their borderline mystical unity, their unified theory of groove.
“Chorus is about a coming together of disparate elements. Not in some sort of utopian aesthetic where everything works perfectly, but in the natural flow and state of things,” shares the band’s Jim Rindfleish. “It’s about cosmic compatibility and chemistry: what makes things work? Not just what makes the band work, but what makes good music, art or love? It’s the rhythm of nature”.
Following 2020’s Automatic and 2017’s Phase, Chorus arrives as Mildlife’s most optimistic record, serving as a sonic testament to the band’s unwavering adoration for the beguiling realms of 70s psychedelic and cosmic sounds. Delve deeper, and you’ll unearth Polish jazz, Italo disco and a sprinkling of contemporary electronic sounds. Chorus is the dance of an expanding and contracting universe – its groove is forever and always, cyclical and evolving. In its most human moments, the album luxuriates in the velvety embrace of Tomas Shanahan’s bass lines, Halliwell’s luminous guitar riffs, Kevin McDowell’s hushed and alluring vocals, Rindfleish’s intricate percussive tapestries and the spiritual rhythms of regular collaborator Craig Shanahan. Swept up in the chorus, the lines between individual and ensemble blur.
Debuting at #8 on the ARIA Album Charts upon release, Automatic garnered plaudits from across the critical spectrum, with praise from NME AU (Best Australian Albums of 2020), Mixdown (“their most immersive listening experience to date”), The Age, The Guardian, CLASH, MTV AU, Brooklyn Vegan and more, including a four star review from The Sydney Morning Herald (“a skillful juggle of sonic ingredients”) and a four-and-a-half star review in Rolling Stone AU, who dubbed the album “the record of a lifetime”. With airplay across triple j, Double J, BBC Radio 6Music and feature album placements at FBi Radio, 3RRR and 2SER, Automatic also nabbed Mildlife nominations for Best Live Act and Best Group at the 2021 Music Victoria Awards, alongside being shortlisted for Best Independent Jazz Album at the 2021 AIR Independent Music Awards. It all culminated in the band winning their first-ever ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album in 2021, which was promptly followed up the next year with yet another win for the recording of their Mildlife Live At South Channel Island motion picture, an hour-long performance that saw the band masterfully recreate the magic of their much-vaunted live shows framed by the gorgeous surrounds of Port Phillip Bay. And, where Automatic largely consolidated the successes of their 2017 debut LP Phase, with the impending arrival of Chorus, Mildlife appear set to ascend to another stratosphere entirely.
“It’s knowing that all the pieces of our own puzzles can slot neatly into a bigger one.” says Shanahan. Such a creative revelation is the band’s growing assurance in their vocal prowess. On the band’s previous albums, McDowell’s voice stood as the predominant lyrical conduit, but on Chorus all members have a moment of expression, highlighting their own choral visions, forging a new unified openness and humanity to the their sound.
“We had this idea that we wanted to create a kind of disparate ecosystem of living things,” continues Shanahan. “We liked the idea of creating a small metaphor of moving through space. You see moments of things and sounds that may not emerge again, until everything around you starts to unify.”
Chorus might be an album of individual tracks, band members and experiences, but it’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s microscopic particles forming new minerals or overlapping time signatures folding in on themselves in generative creation. With the release of Chorus the band has once again opened a portal to their singular realm of rhythmic communion. Step into the flow.