In 2012, Brisbane’s Danny Harley established himself as The Kite String Tangle, and by 2014 he had earned himself an ARIA nomination for Best Breakthrough Artist, played Groovin’ The Moo and The Falls Festival, and had songs in the top 20 of Triple J’s Hottest 100 two years running. Yet it is only now, half way through 2017, that Harley has released the project’s debut album, The Kite String Tangle.
In the three years since releasing the Vessel EP, Harley has clearly consolidated his skills as a writer and producer of electronic music. If nothing else, The Kite String Tangle is an immaculately polished collection of songs, none of which – excepting Wanderlust, which is too long by half – noticeable misstep. That being said, this consistent quality largely leaves the record feeling flat and forgettable. Except for a few standout moments, there is little aside from perfect production values to enamour the listener or sear the songs into the mind’s ear.
With Beneath the Canopy Harley demonstrates that he can pull off a big chorus, while This Thing We Got shows that he knows when to inject soul and warmth into a song provided, in this case, by horns and sampled female vocals. Harley is a competent singer in his own right – albeit a nondescript one – but it takes the appearance of Bridgette Amofah on The Prize, and Montgomery on All I Need, to deliver memorable vocal performances. Musically the former is solid but not memorable, while the latter is almost ineffable in its execution.
Harley is at the top of his game on Mistakes to Make, which sees the track’s subtle rising tension fully realised with a dramatic change that takes place at the halfway point. The Kite String Tangle is bookended nicely by the strong groove and building sounds of Waiting, and the pleasant vibe, courtesy of a charming piano riff and the growing beat, of The Devil You Know. As far as debuts go, The Kite String Tangle is good, if somewhat wanting.