HI VIZ is The Presets’ party album; a hedonistic cocktail of rave nuggets, cyber croons and pub techno, seamlessly mixed across 53 minutes. The vivid LP visuals (by longtime collaborator Jonathan Zawada) and the none-too-subtle title are both clear statements of intent; The Presets are up for it.
It’s been a decade since the duo – Julian Hamilton & Kim Moyes – first set festival fields alight with breakthrough anthems like “My People”, “Talk Like That” and “This Boys In Love”. The pair had been making waves in Sydney’s clubs since forming in 2003 and signing to the influential Modular Records, but it was their 2008 Oz chart-topper, Apocalypso, that first introduced them to wider audiences. That album was certified triple platinum and won six ARIA Awards in their homeland. By contrast, 2012’s critically acclaimed Pacifica was comparatively introspective but epic gigs around the world – from the Glastonbury Festival and Coachella to Splendour In The Grass – forged the duo’s reputation as Australian electronic music trailblazers. HI VIZ sits firmly in this tradition – a “back to basics” set, deliberately curated as a proxy for The Presets’ live experience.
“We wanted to make something that was literally meant to get you out of your head”, explains Julian Hamilton. “All the songs on HI VIZ are outward looking so in that respect it’s much more like our earlier stuff. It’s about trying to capture that energy you get on a great night out with your friends when you get to leave everything else behind you for a while. We essentially tried to create the soundtrack to a party that we would want to go nuts at.”
“It’s taken us ages to make this album because we just kept writing and recording more and more songs”, reflects Kim Moyes. “At one point we had about 50 contenders and, like us, they were all over the map mood wise. Eventually, we decided – fuck it – let’s just pick the most ‘up for it’ songs. Those tracks are always the most fun for us to play live anyway so we thought “why not have a whole album of them?”
HI VIZ has already been teased with two songs that give a sense of its scope. The urgent “Do What You Want” dropped late last year and featured in Triple J’s Hottest 100 songs of 2017. The sweeping “14U+14ME” is among the tastemaker station’s most played songs of 2018. Most of the album was mixed by John Hanes who created the classic mix of “Uptown Funk” as well as working more recently with the likes of Sia, Bruno Mars, and Major Lazer. Apocalypso
Both Julian and Kim individually produce other artists outside their Presets collaborations so it’s not surprising that they, once again, are credited as producers for their own album. It’s also apt that some of the artists with whom they’ve worked should make HI VIZ cameos. For example, “Are You Here” features indie rockers the DMA’s, who’s latest release was co-produced by Kim. Similarly Alison Wonderland, for whom The Presets recently created a widely played remix -guested on the beaty “Are You Out Of Your Mind?” While Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters added vocals to the dark’n’steamy “Tools Down”.
In an unusual move,any more every song on the new album is actually mixed together nonstop like it’s being heard in a club. Earlier moodsetters like “Martini” keep it together while later techno workouts like “14U+14ME” and “Until The Dark” tear apart at the seams.
“We know most people don’t listen to whole albums by one anymore- particularly when it comes to dance music – but we wanted to deliberately create a playlist for people who want to at least try that experience”, Julian explains.
“Hopefully it all flows together and builds like a good DJ set”, adds Kim. “That’s the idea anyway – as if a DJ just happened to cue 13 pretty uptempo Presets songs in a row. Obviously, we’d encourage all DJ’s to do that in their sets on a regular basis anyway but in the meantime, we thought we’d take our own crack at it.”
HI VIZ lands May 18th and copies can be pre-ordered at https://casablanca.lnk.to/HiViz