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Reviewed by Michael Hollywood

This Pale Fire: Alchemy

Reviewed by Michael Hollywood

This Pale Fire: Alchemy

It feels an age since Auckland’s Corban Koschak announced his arrival as a young songwriter of depth and eloquence with This Pale Fire ’s 2014 debut EP ‘Dusk’.

Those years since have seen Koschak build a solid reputation on the local live circuit and ‘Alchemy’ resumes where the EP left off, a set of gentle, emotive acoustic gems of understated beauty, mostly dealing with love, loss and all manner of existential angst.

Working closely with frequent collaborator and album producer Levi Patel, Koschak demonstrates an innate understanding of songcraft and arrangement. Each tune is given ample room to breathe, build and develop a life of its own.

From pastoral opener Northern Lights through to dreamy closer Outro nothing feels out of place. The 12-tracks all benefit from attention to detail, whether in the range of instrumentation – acoustic and electric guitars, keys, and strings (cello most notably) – or otherwise in the sumptuous production gloss provided by Patel.

If there is criticism, it’s that some of This Pale Fire’s work can come across as being a little one dimensional. Much of this stuff is dark, intimate and haunting, to the point where depending on your constitution, you may feel like tuning out or looking the other way to avoid (what can seem like) an element of rubber-necking on Koschak’s heartfelt personal pain.

Or perhaps it’s simply the case that being able to draw you in so close in the first place works as the album’s greatest strength? Whatever, Alchemy is a dream-pop masterclass, and a terrific debut album from an artist surely destined for much greater things.