Once a band, now a solo project, Murmur Tooth are the songs of Leah Hinton, who describes her music as sometimes dark, sometimes light, sometimes grimy, sometimes beautiful, not for elevators, not for dancing.
Leah grew up in rural New Zealand playing classical piano and wanting to be a doctor. At 15 she heard Nirvana’s Bleach album and everything changed. She began teaching herself guitar and decided to study music instead of medicine. At university she formed an avant-metal band and spent the next 10 years playing around Australasia and Europe.
Leah formed Murmur Tooth some years after settling in Berlin, Germany. It was here that she became fascinated by the possibilities of the recording, mixing and producing process as an extension of the creative songwriting process, and she built herself a home recording studio.
“Dropping Like Flies” is the result of this. Written, played, recorded and mixed by Hinton, it is her attempt at capturing that dark, awesome, spine tingling feeling that she first felt when she heard Bleach all those years ago.
Dropping Like Flies starts this EP and showcases Leah’s deep, rich vocals. The track has an ethereal quality as the vocals blend with the sombre keys and tones from the other instruments. The backing vocals add an interesting transition between light and shade.
The first single off the EP is A Belly Full and has a playful, quirky feel. This would be more indie based with a great tune that carries along and underpins the emotional feel of the vocals. Here the harmonies work really well, as the main tune has the potential to unbalance. The vocals show power but combine with a vulnerability that I found really intriguing. This was my favourite track of the EP.
Back to the deep vocals I Will Never backed with guitars which add peaks of sound. The backing instrumentation to this track provides a fluid and almost hallucinogenic quality that made me feel as though I was meditating and waves of vocals would wash over me. I would have liked this track to be longer and to develop as I think there were some interesting moments in this track.
Interlude does precisely what it sets out to do bringing many of the themes from the first half of the EP together. Spacy and trippy it reminded me of the kind of music you might get in a si fi movie.
The Accomplice is the second single and has an intermittent drum beat combining with guitars which warble in the background. The vocals and drums are the stars of this track. The vocals bringing a sense of purity and optimism, differentiating themselves against the foreboding sense that is brought in by the guitars.
Beginning with keys Of Memory starts off with tones that sometimes jar and at other times enhance but provide a surreal feel to this final track. The vocals give nods to the other tracks. The depth of emotion provided by the gravelly vocals pulls at your heart strings.
This is not an album that I would put on every day of the week but if I needed to think or lose myself in the tapestry of her style then I feel I would play this EP. The vocals move from purity to depth with ease, the otherworldliness does come off very successfully on some of the tracks. It is worth a listen as you never know what you might uncover.
Leah has kindly offered readers a free download of her EP, Dropping Like Flies from Bandcamp https://murmurtooth.bandcamp.com/
Knees Are Clean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCWlUyrGG6I