I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Sustain, the latest album from Australian producer Cale Sexton, is the coolest album this year composed using a public art piece. Commissioned by the City of Melbourne and created using Federation Bells, a sound sculpture comprised of 39 upturned bells, Sustain is a journey into sound, a journey that uses the Federation’s bells as a melodic backbone for Sexton’s unique strain of electronica infused with soft 808 bass drums, synths and live instrumentation.
The result makes the bells an integral instrument in the compositions, used to form soft atonal melodies that become the album’s mantra. The bells are in turn perfectly complemented by a new-agey, psych-tinged sound palette crafted from a variety of midi and beat machines alongside bass and guitar, all played by Sexton himself.
In less capable hands, this sonic arsenal might have felt stifling and overwhelming, but Sexton makes it sound peaceful and lush. Sustain is a world of transcendent, long-playing soundscapes that meander and evolve. It’s an electronic symphony of sorts, one that’s best suited to immersive listening while also making great focus music. In short, it’s a beautiful piece of work, one I can’t recommend highly enough.