Nelson-born Saski, also known as Mikhail Birch, released her debut EP ‘Golden Hours’ in mid-May, and aside from lasting less than 15-minutes, it is deservedly well named. For that time you are immersed into an indie, electronic pop world of golden sand, kissed with delicate touches of wind and marigold sunsets. This fresh world differs dramatically from Saski’s alternative indie release Faking Bright because of its crisp, upbeat backbone.
The super-smooth production is by Joseph Corban-Banks and Josh Edmonds of writer and producer duo, Ambian & Sleo, with further production touches and mastering by Liam Quinn. It is overflowing with unique warm, compressed sounds that are coupled with exquisitely sweet and simple lyrics. “I can see your shadow, even though you’re not in the room,” Saski starts on the EP’s title track, and across the five brief tracks ‘Golden Hours’ pulls you through rich soundscapes to illustrate her journey back to Aotearoa from San Francisco, and starting a new chapter in life. From start to finish, the EP reflects Saski’s world through the tranquil, mesmeric melodies, nostalgic lyrics and tasteful production.
Pretty Little Island, the debut single and first track on the EP, introduces the journey through a floaty, electric piano which immediately inspires a relaxed feeling. Layered over this, what sounds like a highly engineered vocal is resemblant of delicate touches of warm wind. The picture is of an untouched island ready to be explored. As the song builds, a wailing string sound, hinting at a Hawaiian steel-string guitar, cleverly represents that she is, as Saski sings, “in paradise”.
The middle tracks; Golden Hours, Fading Out Slowly and Fall Hard, Land Gently hold the emotional grit of Saski’s decision to move back home and illustrate the challenges that come with leaving people and memories behind. To encapsulate the electronic pop genre, the music uses classic trap beats, various keys, and pads, with the occasional cheeky guitar strum adding creative flair. The production techniques in these three tracks complement the dreamy island vibes, felt in Pretty Little Island, inducing a feeling of getting lost in the entrancing sounds.
Never Give You Up closes the EP with a difference in instrumentation and a more determined tone. In contrast to the dominant electronic sounds of the other tracks, it uses a calming guitar riff accompanied by a beat that is further back in the mix, leaving room for the ambience of the track and Saski’s voice to stand front and centre. With the lighthearted, clear vocals and nostalgic yet forward-looking lyrics, this song releases a comforting feeling, as if the journey has come to an end.
Alongside over 9M streams of Faking Bright (a single released in July 2016) and 36,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone, this EP is proof Saski sure is golden.