It was a long four years ago in 2010 that Sydney production duo Flight Facilities (Hugo Gruzman and Jimmy Lyell) first graced our airwaves and dance floors with their indie disco debut single ‘Crave You’, and since then have released a string of solid radio singles and dance floor fillers. Being a singles duo until now, the anticipation for their debut full-length release Down To Earth is high to say the least. Released through Future Classic, this finely crafted album of electronica infused pop songs exceed the level of maturity and musicianship expected of two Sydney club disk jockeys.

The introductory track of ‘Down To Earth’ very appropriately titled ‘Intro’ sets the mood for album, beautifully layered orchestral arrangement build a cinematic feel appropriate for the American Beauty soundtrack. Flight Facilities very cleverly incorporate the major arpeggio used in train stations and airports worldwide into the mix with a cheeky pilot announcement welcoming the listener to the record. This track makes it clear that this is an album, not just a collection of singles. It fades effortlessly into the first release from the album ‘Two Bodies’ featuring Brisbane pop songstress Emma Louise, an ‘early morning recovery session’ energy and sound is created. It’s the kind of tune you can groove to for hours, or wind down to after a big night.

Although Flight Facilities are known for their infectious, house-inspired dance tracks, Down To Earth is incredibly versatile (from a dance music perspective). Their 2012 single ‘Claire de Lune’ is certainly the standout on the album from a musical standpoint; it’s a seven minute, slow-building orchestral pop track with minimal drums and production. The orchestral arrangement mixed with a pulsating bass drum and toy piano melody emulating a children’s lullaby evokes an amazing sense of emotion, something not heard before from Flight Facilities. With a flawless vocal performance from New York vocalist Christine Hoberg, this song just ticks all the boxes. Expect to hear this on a film score sometime in the near future.

It’s only appropriate that Flight Facilities include a feel good 80’s inspired pop jam with a sax riff at the end to make Kenny G weep. This number comes from the track ‘Hold Me Down’ featuring Irish pop singer and producer Stee Downes. Controlled 80s-inspired gated snare and kick patterns hold this track down (pardon the pun) with reverberated Enya-esque choir stabs and rhythmic disco guitar reminiscent of Chic binding it all together. This song sounds like it was written for Monte Morgan of Client Liaison to sing his heart out over, so it’s a brilliant coincidence that they will be supporting Flight Facilities on their national tour this month. The track ends with a beautifully executed sax solo, which is exactly what it needed (let’s be honest, a lot of songs need that).

While listening to this album it cannot be stressed enough as to how versatile it is for a dance release. From the hip hop stylings of ‘Why Do You Feel’ featuring 18-year old New York native Bishop Nehru (who has worked with MF Doom, Nas and Kendrick Lamar in the last two years alone, certainly one to look out for) to the beautiful, minimal, and French-sounding house release from 2010, ‘Crave You’. The attention to detail and songwriting on this record is outstanding, given that its been revealed in numerous interviews that neither of the duo played an instrument prior to releasing music. The only disappointment on this record is the underwhelming rendition of ‘Crave You’ sung acapella by Australia’s very own Kylie Minogue. Although the thought was nice — giving the track some new life given the four-year gap since its release — Kylie’s baby vocals just don’t quite cut it.

The highlight of the album comes from what will probably be the song of the Australian summer; ‘Sunshine’, featuring American singer and musical comedian Reggie Watts. This has all the key components of a big radio hit. Solid disco bass and guitar lines, a smooth electric piano pop progression and a killer vocal and lyrics. This easy to sing along to pop number proves that Reggie Watts isn’t just a hilarious musical comedian, but also a vocal prodigy. It’s astounding he hasn’t had a pop hit yet as his voice is just a perfect match for the groovy-as hell music provided by Flight Facilities. With steel drums and marimbas, this song has a hugely tropical vibe, which subconsciously is incredibly soothing and relaxing.

Flight Facilities have delivered a a brilliant pop record on their own terms. Its clear they have grown as musicians and songwriters since their first release and waiting to hone their craft was the right decision. From start to finish the album is entertaining, stimulating and interesting. This is not another obvious dumb dance record. The way all the songs when played in order merge into each other, and the subtle pilot announcement samples scattered throughout the record create an aura that almost brands their sound. This album is going to have a big summer, and Flight Facilities have cemented a fucking solid debut. Flight Facilities can only fly higher from here (once again sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Song for the club – Two Bodies Ft. Emma Louise
Song for the bedroom – Claire De Lune
Song for the radio – Hold Me Down – Ft. Stee Downes
Song for the festival season – Sunshine ft. Reggie Watts

8/10

 

Down To Earth was released on October 24th via Future Classic.