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21-year-old New Zealand musician Arjuna Oakes's debut EP, The Watcher, is a showcase of his ability as a singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and producer, and a testament to his depth of engagement with music.
The first two tracks on the EP fit neatly within the jazz-infused soul music landscape he is quickly becoming part of, but the latter half of the EP is far harder to categorise. Featuring instrumentation from some of New Zealand’s most exciting young jazz musicians, The Watcher explores a wide variety of themes and musical ideas, with Arjuna’s charismatic soul vocals and robust sonic palette serving as a connective thread. From big social issues to personal relationships and internal self-discoveries, across The Watcher, Arjuna takes his cue from the title track and exploration of mass surveillance, and it’s relevance within our everyday lives.
This watcher theme continues throughout the rest of the EP, with the stories told rendered as if being observed by an outside force. Decorated by cinematic soundscapes, hypnotic grooves, creative improvisation and catchy melodies, Arjuna's debut is a test palette for his future projects, one that makes his enthusiasm to develop and explore themes and style in song abundantly clear.
A1. Old School Heart
A3. The Watcher
B1. Deep End
B2. Something Is Better Than Nothing