by Izzy Parker
Amongst other things, the beginning of July saw the release of Waterbaby’s latest single, Thin Air. The avant-pop sister duo have undoubtedly made their mark on the underground London scene in recent years, partly through their debut album Pink Noise, which came out in 2016. Since then, they have emerged sporadically from their home studio in Peckham, where their genius is born, to perform enchanting live sets alongside the likes of Kedr Livanskiy and Dorian Electra. A Waterbaby gig is certainly something I’d relish the chance to see myself, should the opportunity ever arise, as their performances are notoriously unorthodox, comprising of bright, piercing vocals, electronic soundscapes and psychedelic video projections.
Of late, sisters Martha and Jessica Kilpatrick (aka Waterbaby) have been finding their place in the post-pandemic industry – as have we all – and a wonderful job they are doing! This latest single marks their first release under untitled recs (a London native label boasting artists such as Horsey and TAALIAH), and acts as a follow up from their prior single I don’t want to sing I don’t want to look, both of which combine a Cocteau Twins-esque ethereal mood with a more modern, electronic twang. Thin Air is a beautiful piece which fits succinctly into the fast-building set of celestial creations by these two sisters.
Before the groove of Thin Air is even established, the listener is instantly given a feel for the alien aura which is innate within Waterbaby’s sound. A brief electronic intro is heard, followed rapidly by the introduction of dreamlike vocals, numbing and yet distinct, not dissimilar to the timeless style of Kate Bush. Likely as a result of that beautifully piercing vocal, the lyrics are not always easy to pick out, though this acutely contributes to the all-important ambiguity of the song. Those lyrics which are decipherable, however, allude to other-worldly musings and conjure images of psychedelia; ‘staring at the sun til the colours run’, and ‘you are descending’. Speaking on the story behind Thin Air, Waterbaby said “It’s a song about duality. We shapeshift from being in the driver’s seat to going along for the ride, ‘am I the pilot, or the passenger?’, and travel from day to night. We use aerial analogies and flight metaphors to describe periods of ascent and descent, and the ups and downs of life. Throughout the song you soar and crash, sometimes looking down on the world below, existing somewhere in the clouds like an angel watching earth.”
Whilst the song gets off to a gentler start, a real urgency is built up as it progresses on through its transcendental journey. Just before the first chorus, powerful percussion is brought to our attention, perfectly creating the feel of soaring and crashing, as the artists mentioned. It does truly feel as if we’re being taken on a voyage! This percussion, paired with striking backing vocals and the clean electronic sound, makes for an impeccable accompaniment to Waterbaby’s musings on duality and the versatility of life.
It’s just not us who love Thin Air, though, the song has swept across the underground scene in London already before making its way up north, and has earned praise from the likes of DAZED, who say; ‘a cocktail of kosmische synths, lilting vocals, and fluid, barely-there percussion, owing as much to contemporary avant-garde music like James Ferraro and Oneohtrix Point Never as Harmonia, Vangelis, or Enya.’
Look out for Waterbaby’s next emergence soon, doubtlessly their live performances are not to be missed!