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CHUDITCH Grasping at the Water gets 8.5/10

Grasping at the Water


After a decade of writing songs as the frontman of Louis and the Honkytonk and as auteur of Cedric Street Exorcist, Perth songwriter and producer Leigh Gardiner has re-emerged with a new project and moniker; Chuditch.

The first track under the name to be released is the brooding Grasping at the Water. Gardiner has taken a step forward in the production of this song, bringing together eight instrumentalists from other popular local bands such as Erin Gordon (The Reductors) on drums, Andy Atthowe (Terminal Beach) on keys, and a four-piece string section composed by Rebecca Erin Smith.

Despite having such a widescreen musical cast at his disposal, the song itself is most impressive in its ability to restrain itself so the most important parts stand out. In this case it’s Gardiner’s vocals and lyrics that demand the listener’s attention, with his deep yet rich voice carrying itself with earnest care in the vein of The National’s Matt Berninger or the late Dave McComb from The Triffids. The absence of guitar on the track also shows a maturity in production,​ allowing the vocals space to breathe and as the centrepiece of the song.

Lyrically, Grasping at the Water is an exploration of the perils of social media through the metaphor of drowning witches. While none of these themes jump out at you specifically, the track embodies the sentiment well, feeling like a meditative arm-wrestle between hope and futility. It opens with the line “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t/ Dead if you sink, dead if you float,” with “grasping at water” referring to the elusiveness of hope in trying times. Gardiner’s voice is paired exceptionally well with guest vocalist Clare James (Tanami), lifting the song to higher emotive levels (and octaves) as the swelling string sections blossom in the background.

Grasping at the Water is well considered and well contained with none of the sonic elements overshadowing the careful vibe that Gardiner has constructed. It’s a welcome introduction to this new project from Gardiner and a high-water mark in his creative output to date.


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