The voice of Noah Slee drifts from totemic soul to the unfolding limits of pop, slung mist-like between eruptions of digital rhythm.It’s a voice that slips between three continents, that can knot into pure percussion and uncoil into a thread of falsetto in the space of a verse. And a voice that has enraptured European festivals and tastemakers as varied as Boiler Room, Indie Shuffle and Okayplayer.
“What we were writing was a mixtape so it gave us no boundaries” Slee murmurs, citing the only fundamental guiding principal used in the making of Otherland, his first full-length release to be released by Wondercore Island in early 2017.
Otherland bristles with instinct—the pensive, bruised tone of 2016’s ‘To Your Inner Hippy & Cos You Fly as Fuck’ at once magnified and transfigured. It’s a mixtape that flickers from the disconsolate to the ecstatic, something that offers—in delicate rnb and resonant pop— something from just beyond the here and now.
But for Noah Slee, the future has been a long time coming. Growing up in a Tongan household in West Auckland, New Zealand, he listened to African reggae through a wood laminate stereo and woke to the clamour of Earth Wind and Fire. Everything is gathered, disembodied, and reimagined, nothing from his past seems entirely discarded.
Even his frustration at studio recording in Brisbane obliquely clings to him years later—repelling him into the world of sampling and home recording, and leading him inexorably to Berlin and into the company of producer Ben Esser. Slee and Esser’s relationship is one that is somewhat mimetic
of Otherland itself—simultaneously instinctual and suffused with personal history.