Surprise, surprise! They said it was arriving in July but didnt give an exact date … which freed up Gang of Youths to drop Total Serene out of the blue on Thursday.
It’s listed as a “single” on Spotify, but the band is calling it an EP. Either way, Total Serene brings us two Gang of Youths originals and one cover:
- The Angel Of 8th Ave.
- Asleep In The Back (Elbow cover)
We already know plenty about “Angel of 8th,” so today’s sudden release focused a lot on the other original song, “Unison.”
The 5:09 track begins quietly and eventually crescendoes into a footstomping beat that features support from the Auckland Gospel Choir. My first thought was that it sounds Mumford-y, but other GOY fans have (correctly IMO) pointed out that there’s a bit of the experimental, ’90s-era U2 in there, as well.
In an email to fans announcing the EP, the band revealed the significance of what we hear in “Unison.”
The track is the first release to feature samples taken from the archives of renowned composer, explorer and recordist David Fanshawe.
In the late 1970s, Fanshawe travelled to the Pacific islands and commenced work on a project that was to become the most comprehensive and important collection of indigenous Pacific music ever put to tape. His work is invaluable and we’re enormously grateful to his family for their collaboration and their continued work in stewarding this precious and significant collection. You can expect future releases to feature his recordings.
Similarly, in early 2020 we traveled to the “Polynesian capital of the world” — Auckland, NZ — to work with a team of exceptional traditional Maori and Pasifika musicians, singers and storytellers.
Pasifika and Maori identity has informed much of the next phase of our work, along with the extraordinary life of Dave’s late father, Teleso Le’aupepe.
The background there is terrific, and — along with the song itself — really helps to illustrate what the band said during the “Angel” launch about things going in a new direction.
There’s also the Elbow cover, which probably deserves more of a listen on my part before I have anything to say about it.
You can share your thoughts on the new material in our forum(s). We have a thread about Unison here, and a separate thread about Asleep In The Back here.
You can also join us on Discord if that’s your preference — we’d love to hear from you!