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Tenth Court


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Limited to 350 copies only.

Soft Knocks is the fourth album by Small World Experience, coming nearly two decades after their previous release, Side Projects, originally released on Melbourne’s Chapter Music back in 1998. While much has changed in the musical and cultural landscape in that time, the record sees the trio, led by Brisbane singer-songwriter Pat Ridgewell, following on from their '90's releases in much the same vein.

In the years between releases Ridgewell played occasional solo shows around Brisbane, but on record he is again joined by original collaborator Ian Wadley (of Minimum Chips and Bird Blobs) and newly enlisted Julian Patterson (of Minimum Chips and Ancients). The result is a hazy warmth of layered acoustic guitars around which drums, vocals and Patterson’s bass lines weave. These are not the kind of melodies that demand a listener’s attention, rather they slowly nestle their way deep into your subconsciousness.

Occasionally the instrumentation shifts ever so slightly, like the appearance of French horn on Table Talk and Tunnel Vision or the drum loop on Call Of The Wild. It is these subtle changes in texture that, like the melodies, may not be noticed on a casual listen, but ensure the record will reward repeated plays. Given it took nineteen years for a follow up last time, fans are likely to give this record a workout before a follow up appears.

Where previous records were predominantly songs about writing songs, Soft Knocks is far more domestic, finding inspiration in the everyday. On Table Talk Ridgewell remembers childhood dinners, "Brothers, sisters set the table at five / In the kitchen with the fire and fluorescent light / Shining so bright 'cause we blow out the coals / When we open up the door of the stove / Shining so white can’t see the glow of the coals". His musing on childhood continue on Blowaway where lyrics read like they were in part lifted directly from the box of a hobby plane kit he got for his twelfth birthday "Will it fly / Wings of ply / Got it on an obligation free trial / Will it fly? / Or blowaway".

Small World Experience’s return isn’t some rock star reunion cash-in to help pay off mounting debts, or an artist trying to find relevance with a new generation. Rather it is the same understated, self-assured songs Ridgewell has been crafting for over three decades. Released on Tenth Court records, a label where the majority of their roster was probably not even in school when SWE were first getting together, it demonstrates the timelessness of this music. This record will serve as a fine introduction to a younger generation of listeners, and a welcome follow up for those who’ve been with them for the long haul. - Joel Saunders.

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