Martha Skye Murphy

Um: Vinyl LP


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Meaning shifts throughout Murphy’s debut album ‘Um’ with songs that meld moments of baroque beauty with crashes of electronic noise, employing textures that are by turns organic and artificial, hi-fi and lo-fi. Collaborations with the likes of Claire Rousay and Roy Montgomery are finely intertwined with the fruits of rigorous studio sessions with producer Ethan P. Flynn. Lyrically Martha conjures images inspired by everything from Ancient Roman hand-binding torture to a Fred and Ginger tap routine. “I wanted the album to feel like this constant tension between being in a very intimate domestic space, and then being propelled into a far stranger environment that is difficult to situate,” she says. “I want people to feel disoriented, erotically charged by the intimacy of a bedroom, then catapulted into a desert.” 
The listener is indeed catapulted across landscapes and left disoriented. ‘First Day’ consists of individual notes recorded remotely on different instruments across Texas, New Zealand and London, coalescing into one hovering chord around a field recording Murphy took while wandering New York. 
“There are recurring themes of interest to me which are loss, longing, and memory,” says Murphy. It's telling that when Marta Salogni, who mixed the album, first heard ‘Um’, she commented that it was like experiencing a memory of an experience that hadn’t yet happened. She introduced Murphy to the term ‘Hiraeth’, an untranslatable Welsh term that refers to a blend of homesickness, nostalgia and longing for one’s home. “It summarised the whole record,” Murphy says. 
As a vocalist Murphy has a rare talent for transformation, from her intimate, cracked whispers over the hypnotic drift of ‘Theme Parks’, to her piercing disembodied wails as ‘Kind’ implodes into a cataclysm of electronic noise. Elsewhere, she offers us little more than a distracted hum. In the studio, she and co-producer Ethan P. Flynn focussed on maximising those vocal capabilities by teasing out different personas. “One of the biggest sonic influences on the album was Russian sacred choral music,” Murphy explains, “so we would put mics in odd places, each vocal part positioned in varying areas of the room to try and channel a choir in a church or a sacred space, and when I was performing, I would have a slightly different inflection for each voice.” On the crystalline ‘Pick Yourself Up’, part of which she wanted to sound like a lullaby, she cradled objects as she sang in order to draw out the maternal. 
It would be an oversimplification to say that Murphy inhabits different characters on the record. Rather, she extracts different characters from the depths of her own psyche who gesture towards the fact that ‘the self’ is ultimately a vague and impermanent thing. She can be both exorcist and orator.


A1. First Day 
A2. Need 
A3. Pick Yourself Up 
A4. Theme Parks 
A5. Spray Can 
A6. Call Me Back 
B1. Kind 
B2. The Words 
B3. Dust Yourself Off 
B4. IRL 
B5. Forgive 

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Vinyl LP