Humewood is a relaxing 15-minute stretch on a waterbed of strings and keys. The set of six tracks is the second EP by Cape Town’s Courtsyde, who started releasing music in 2021. Their work has ranged from melting lo-fi and sparkling synths to more driven numbers that foreground the percussion. But across the board, the songs are smooth as peanut butter with a sound that’s equally vicious.

The soundscape on Humewood is a bit more focused than on Courtsyde’s vibrant debut EP, Beats Around the Bush. The 2023 release keeps its eyes trained on the keys and guitar, immersing you in subdued background noise and low-fidelity texture samples.

Look around

‘Look around’ starts the project off with dual layers of head-nodding guitar picking under talkative electric strings. It’s one of the more laid-back and minimal-sounding tracks from the set and guides you into the vibe with the reassuring touch of an old friend.

Some sandy percussion makes a short appearance halfway through to lend the beat a grittier punch and give the listener an idea of what the rest of the project has in store. Everything falls away in the final stretch except for the patient acoustic guitar rhythm, leaving your palette cleansed for the next track.

The way

‘The way’ starts easing you into a busier mix with some city sound samples after the relatively minimal opening track. It also introduces a more genre-typical lo-fi feel that subsequent songs will continue.

It uses its liquid keys and gentle vocals ruminating on blossoming love. However, the personality of the track really comes through when a yearning guitar riff tags out with the vocals to lounge low in the mix for a while.

Cosmo

The third track, ‘Cosmo’, is the first to work in some bass and it’s a very welcome addition. It’s also the most diverse mix of the set so far — a lava lamp of glowing keys, gooey guitar, and subtle crackling effects.

The vocals are doing exactly as much as they should, with the high-pitched synth stealing the spotlight and making the track really stand out in the whole of the project.

Dusty

‘Dusty’ is a more fast-paced affair, a tag team of scuffed drums and light-footed guitar. There’s a liberal yet tasteful amount of reverb on this project, which works especially well to help you get lost in its meandering thoughts.

The mix on ‘Dusty’ also feels like one of the most cohesive since ‘Look around’. It sneaks in some more traditional percussion sounds, and the ocean ambience is lovely and effective – bubbling up from the background whenever everything else quiets down.

The final track of the set is ‘Rain sometimes’. The closing piece is made up of just piano, lo-fi texture, and an out-of-focus background of the conversation. It’s a tender and pensive send-off for a string-focused EP.

That said, the lo-fi crackling seems to add little to the track, which feels like it would have been at least as effective by letting the keys take a clean, confident lead.

Humewood doesn’t ask for much of your time and will reward you for taking a quiet moment to reflect. You can follow this link to find their music on your streaming service of choice. If you enjoy their sound, we can definitely recommend checking out their other work, especially their lively debut Beats Around the Bush.

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

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