Review: Cortége ‘Chasing Daylight’ EP

Austin, Texas, based duo Cortége consist of Mike Swarbrick (bass, moog, mellotron and tubular bells) and Adrian Voorhies on drums. A highly unique and seriously interesting mix of instruments are used, as you will have seen from above, and one that makes for extremely powerful, cinematic and moving sounds.

Cortége 'Chasing Daylight'

This, their first release for newly signed to record label, New Mexico’s Desert Records, which feels like a perfect match of sound made to the label’s name. This is an audio representation of what you imagine the desert to be like in your mind. Simply put Cortége personify the sound of the desert. With Morricone like atmospheres and layers liking it to Dylan Carlson’s Earth, you’re transported to the Mojave in one quick move. Put it this way, a double bill with Earth in a seated theatre with projections of the original 1966 movie Django would be a fantastic experience for fans of this genre.

There’s no doubt there is a huge nod to dark westerns, plus the tension created in gunfights and the hard, brutal lifestyle lived by many of those men and women during the early days of the USA and Mexico in such surroundings. Cortége have released five EP’s so far evident, and all are available to buy/download for very little money on their Bandcamp page. I urge you to visit and explore their other releases where you will find more powerful creations by Mike Swarbrick and Adrian Voorhies. Incredible when you consider this sound is made by only two men, but it’s also tempting to consider what it would sound like with a serious orchestra and percussion, but, you know, it’s simply perfect as it is. Less is more in this case.

With Morricone like atmospheres and layers liking it to Dylan Carlson’s Earth, you’re transported to the Mojave in one quick move…

Kicking off with Chasing Daylight Part 1, we’re instantly introduced to an apocalyptic and attention-grabbing pulse that then slips into a lazy guitar twang, where you can feel the heat of the desert and smell the dying carcasses of the bison. Red dust kicked up from a team of wild horses visible in the distance. It does make you picture a solitary environment where the heat can kill, and lack of water is a death sentence. David Lynch is mentioned in their Bandcamp biography and I can see why as this EP could work beautifully in any of his visual creations but also, to my mind, makes me think of a beautiful marriage between Cortége and John Hillcoat’s The Road or The Proposition movies, as this would also be a perfect setting.

The times we’re all living through give little to look forward to at present, but I would suggest if this sounds like the kind of music you enjoy, hope does indeed spring eternal. Cortége celebrate a new and formal partnership with Desert Records, which hopefully will bear more fruit as impressive as this in the future. I for one will be keeping my eyes open to receive whatever they deliver with much interest.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered in the fall of 2020 with Jeff Henson (Duel) at Red Nova Ranch in Austin, Texas, Chasing Delight is described as a ‘chrome-tinged portrait du temps for the end of the world as well as a musical foreshadowing of things to come’ which I certainly agree with, but replace ‘chrome’ with ‘sepia’ and that’s more in the ballpark for me.

‘Drone, prog, doom, western and ambient landscapes’ are all apt descriptions but simply put, if you enjoy music with weight and an ability to transport you to somewhere that perfectly complements the music then, Cortége should be congratulated for achieving exactly that.

Label: Desert Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Tim Keppie