There’s aiming high. And there’s going after Brian Eno. When Set Mo set about creating their first full-length album, they reached out to a hero in Eno, a veteran artist and musician with the reputation of a production boffin, the Godfather of Ambient. A guy who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Set Mo, the rising Sydney duo of Nick Drabble and Stu Turner, are, like many others, inspired by the work of Eno, and in particular a spoken word piece on the creative process he served up in a campaign for Alfred Dunhill, the British luxury menswear brand.
The Aussie pair dreamed on. Eno’s dialogue was the perfect fit for “Surrender,” the title track to Set Mo’s debut album, which dropped Feb. 1 through Set Mo Records. “’Surrender’ had the energy of a perfect album opener or opening to a live show,” recounts Turner. “But we did feel it missed an element.” That Eno delivery “resonated with us.” One small problem: the sample needed clearance. The call was put out, Set Mo and their management team entered the waiting game. Some nervous weeks passed. And, relief. The day before Surrender was submitted for mastering, a response came in from Eno’s management. “They were like, Brian’s into it. He just wants you to make a few small changes. If you can do that you’re good to use it,” recounts Drabble. “We were like, ‘what?’ Brian Eno’s heard our track and likes it?”
Their minds blown by the Eno experience, Set Mo are keen to blow music fans’ heads with Surrender, a journey across chilled electronic terrain. The LP, with its touches of electronica, deep house and breakbeat, is the culmination of an unusual release strategy that saw the duo drop a track each month through 2018, with the addition of five new works.
“It just made the most sense,” says Drabble of the Surrender drip-feed. “We’re independent so we had complete control to do whatever we want.” Earlier, Set Mo built a bank of about 30 demos after a productive five-week writing stint in Europe. Those tracks were “so diverse and so different from the singles we’d released previously, that we didn’t ‘want to shock people with the (new) songs. And we didn’t want them to get overlooked by putting too many different things out at once and alienating the music or the listeners.”
Surrender came together in studios in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Australia, as the duo joined forces with the likes of Touch Sensitive, Happiness is Wealth, AJ Wright (Cloud Control), Asta and Julian Hamilton (The Presets).
Set Mo’s personal voyage saw them take their marathon-length “Stamina Sessions” sets to the world last year, as the duo clocked up 59 shows in their homeland and abroad. They anticipate visiting the United States “a couple of times this year,” in support of the new album. Full touring details will be announced shortly.
Stream Surrender below.