Detroit’s saajtak not only have a uniquely searchable band-name but a stunningly unique and creative sound and songwriting style as well. Hectic as the leading single from this two-track release is something else in its own right, floating expressively along – somewhere between the likes of Massive Attack and Kate Bush, with an edge of indie-rock and a multi-layered soundscape that ticks so many boxes when it comes to audio escapism.
Let’s back up a little. saajtak have crafted the songs on this project from a place of clear and honest artistic desire. Hectic the single is far more of an experience than a simple song – at over six minutes long it offers an ascending and magnetic journey for its audience, one within which you can either completely lose yourself or embrace your own head-space and escape from your current reality for a while. Fusing delicate yet simultaneously powerful and compelling vocals, with an ever changing ambiance, and a set-up that pours through section by section – not unlike a short movie – the whole thing leaves you sitting in unbearable silence when all is said and done.
The second time you hear this it hits in a slightly different way. You’re less inclined to let the freshness and the excitement cloud your perception of it. The piece beings with a distorted bass-line and some lyrics that seem to be the freely wandering thoughts of an open mind – a stream of consciousness even. Then comes the beat, this mildly industrial edge of rhythm. Then everything falls away – except for this chorus of higher, ascending vocals.
The track seems far from the industry standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, though that’s kind of what you get, it’s just that the artistry of it overtakes any mainstream familiarity. Things grow more intense and magical as the song goes on. The lyrics provoke a certain way of thinking, they intrigue and inspire, and from the spacious gentle tones of the introduction to the electrified latter half – you’re completely swept away on this series of emotions and ideas.
There are no other current bands or artists that come to mind when listening to this. It’s refreshingly fascinating to have fill the room around you. There is indeed a hook, mixed in among the chaos and beauty – that repeated phrase and melody weaves a hypnotic web around you in a notably memorable way. It’s clever songwriting intertwined with carefree artistic expression, and it works.
Alongside of the single is a second track called If You Ask. The instrumentation and the voice seem familiar as things start up, but the overall vibe is undoubtedly more joyful and carefree, to begin with. Things progress to become this colourful, hopeful soundscape – within which you can escape just as well, though there’s less guidance, less intensity – the absence of lyrics during the first minute means it’s up to the listener where they find themselves. Later on, a select few lyrics take the place of the majority of the music – the same impossibly stunning leading voice – that of Alex Koi – offers a song and melody that’s unexpected yet equally poignant and as interesting as what came before.
Reaching the seven minute mark means that this particular track is nothing like you might expect from hearing only the first couple of minutes. Once again, the band utilize every second – they craft this near-operatic, theatrical journey before you; even the space between bass notes and beats is quite magnificent.
The latter half of the track sees it gather momentum – you start to crave a live performance, to be there in the room or the hall with all of this would be sensational. The mightiness is spectacular, so original in nature and yet never too out there to connect. On the contrary – these songs feel partly distant and new but also partly as if they were written purely for you. The words have a certain poetic vagueness that lets you make up your own mind and attach your own meanings to them. The beautiful chaos returns for the final few moments and the band succeed entirely in winning you over. For a mere two-track EP, Hectic is an intense and unforgettable playlist of pure musical power. saajtak is a name worth looking out for.