Track: Eyes Wide Open
1 Track, Single (2010, Independent)
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“So this is the end of the story/Everything we had, everything we did/Is buried in dust,” begins the first original solo offering from Gotye since 2006’s Like Drawing Blood LP. Following its runaway success, songwriter Wally de Backer prepared a remix album, Mixed Blood, then shelved Gotye in favour of consistent writing and touring with his other band, The Basics. Ahead of a slot on the 2011 Laneway Festival and an impending third LP comes ‘Eyes Wide Open’, a compact, three-minute tune available for free download from his website.
The most striking aspect of the song is its sparse instrumentation, especially when compared to his intricately-layered past works. ‘Eyes Wide Open’ is built around a three-note bass progression, de Backer’s characteristically muscular drumming, and that unmistakable voice. Additional credits for “whale cello” (Gareth Skinner), “poker bass” (Lucas Taranto) and “wasteland pedal steel guitar” (Michael Hubbard) are noted, but their input is more atmospheric than integral.
Also present is de Backer’s interaction with the Winton Musical Fence, an apparatus in central Queensland described by the singer as “five massive metal strings attached to fence posts, and connected to a wooden resonant chamber”. Samples from the musical fence form the basis of the song’s bassline - though you probably wouldn’t pick it without reading his bio.
Though its chorus declares, “We walk the plank with our eyes wide open”, the rest of de Backer’s lyrics are more ambiguous. Doubt, fear and sadness are all present, yet the climactic moment hints at a more grandiose overall message: “To stop consuming's to stop being human, and why'd I make a change if you won't?/We're all in the same boat, staying afloat for the moment." The overall effect is compelling.
by Andrew McMillen