Released 6th January 2017
Sal Para started as a solo project by Ted Mair, but has now apparently expanded to a four-piece live band – which is a little surprising, given the claustrophobic nature of Her, the lead song of their debut single, which has been released by new local independent label Tremor Recordings. This almost six-minute-long track presents itself quite neatly in three parts. In the first, a sparse, stuttery beat is overlaid by soft synth chords before the quiet, hesitant vocals float in and out. The second part fades in around a third of the way through as the tempo is doubled by a fuller set of drums; these depart two thirds in, leaving a single beat with a rather beautiful Jean Michel Jarre-esque arpeggiated sparkly synth melody for a while, before the pulsating chords return.
The vocals seem incongruously and disingenuously off-kilter and detached to begin with, but insinuate themselves subtly via Arcade Fire-like octave double-tracking and repetition; the apparently strophic single-line lyrics are given a slightly different character each time by what’s going on underneath, and the more you hear the refrain “I only think of you”, the more earnest – yet still mysterious – it comes across.
Oddly, when heard as a complement to the main event rather than an alternative, the Rancid Jazz remix of Her seems to work better; at least to begin with, it presents the vocals – and sentiment – at the distance from the listener they feel they are intended to be, more hidden and lost than in the original.