Following on from both last year’s Distractions One album, and the Nervous Energy EP which resulted from a collaboration with Mindy Meng Wang 王萌, it’s clear that Shiel is someone who finds it impossible to stay in any form of creative stasis. Thus, it makes sense that following the difficulty of the last two years, he emerges with the Achingdrum project, which connects both emotion and dance in a mesmerising way.
Describing Achingdrum as “lizard-brain ‘don’t-overthink it’ dance music”, debut single “Is It Me” illustrates this slogan, with relentlessly infectious rhythms being paired with emotive vocals that combine to turn the track into a four-minute opus of catharsis.
“Late last year I took a week off, and took my laptop and some speakers out to a small cottage in a dairy town called Poowong on Gunaikurnai land in Gippsland,” explains Shiel of the project’s inception. “It’s a really quiet part of Victoria, all green rolling hills, cows.
“I was trying to take it easy after a couple of really intense years adapting to Naarm/Melbourne’s constant lockdowns. I cooked my breakfast each morning and ate it on the deck amongst the birdcalls. I just wanted to disconnect from everything and recenter, and I felt super grateful that I had that chance when so many people didn’t.
“Maybe because the pressure was off, the music I started there felt really uncomplicated,” he continued. “I worked fast, trying to disconnect from my critical faculties and let my lizard brain lead the way. Follow my gut, don’t overthink it, and let the music be whatever it will be. So here we are. Emotion (ache) + dance (drum) = Achingdrum.”
Though his eclectic and impressive back catalogue already indicates that a project such as Achingdrum was always bound to be of the same high quality, “Is It Me” proves that it’s impossible for Tim Shiel to unveil anything except some of the most progressive and powerful compositions imaginable.
“Is It Me” is set to be followed by more music from Achingdrum in the near future, and given how powerful this debut is, it goes without saying that it’ll be more than worth the wait.
Achingdrum’s “Is It Me” is out now.