Sunken Foal's Sugary Synths Have Just the Right Amount of Sweetness on 'Hexose'

BY Bryon HayesPublished Apr 24, 2020

Veteran Irish producer Duncan Murphy plays the confectioner on Hexose, his seventh album as Sunken Foal. The record's title references a family of simple sugars, of which fructose is a member. The chemical responsible for giving fruit its sweet taste, fructose is also a building block of sucrose: what we call sugar. It isn't fair to label Murphy's compositions as being purely simple and sweet, however. There's a playful complexity to his music; the sweetness lies mainly in the emotions these tunes evoke.

Murphy has carried on a love affair with synthesizers throughout his career, and his songs are reflective of this man-machine intimacy. "Caramac" is imbued with the wistful sheen of airy pads and a sprightly melody. A rich sensory experience lies waiting at the middle of this juicy morsel, revealing itself as the track nears completion. The proceedings take a jittery turn as "Softies" comes into focus. Glitchy beats and fragments of melody are intertwined with a sense of exploration. It's a pretty daring exercise that ultimately pays off for the producer.

Another bold move is the slightly morose solo piano composition "Petits Philippe" that appears right before the introspective synth maelstrom of "Instant Whip". Whereas the former is as skeletal as Murphy gets with Hexose, the latter is a densely layered epic that brings on fond memories of late-night revelry.

With this album, Murphy appears to be full of contradictions but is actually taking the role of confectioner to its logical conclusion. On offer is an assortment of motifs, each with just the right amount of sweetness. The producer has cleverly prepared something for everyone.

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