Review: Harvey Sutherland’s new album ‘Boy’ is funky, neurotic and sincere

Review: Harvey Sutherland’s new album ‘Boy’ is funky, neurotic and sincere

Harvey Sutherland
words by Bryget Chrisfield

Naarm/Melbourne-based producer, DJ, funk synthesist and overall jazzy cat Harvey Sutherland (real name: Mike Katz) has said that he created the majority of 'Boy' “in a circular loop between [his] studio and [his] psychotherapist”.

Initially, Katz intended to make this record about his father, but then it soon became apparent that he was actually describing himself; so it makes total sense that a closeup photograph of Katz’s face – looking like a dapper, but dazed and confused, extra from Happy Days – was chosen to grace Boy’s cover. “I like the idea of oversharing,” Katz explains in the accompanying presser. “Electronic music has that archetype of the brooding, faceless producer. I sort of like hacking that, doing the opposite.” Katz also sings lead vocals for the first time here – an experience he’s described as “really confronting” – on the saxtastic, Todd Rundgren-channeling track Holding Pattern (after a slated collaborator fell through) and certainly doesn’t disgrace himself.

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Under his Harvey Sutherland moniker, Katz has worked with the likes of Genesis Owusu and remixing credits to date include Disclosure, The Presets’ Julian Hamilton and The Lazy Eyes (his remix of their song Fuzz Jam is a deadset sneaky banger). Throughout Boy, he activates limitless sonic – and neural – pathways with regular synth explosions triggering a sense of euphoria.

Album opener, and Boy’s patient card (if you will), Jouissance – so named after a term Katz investigated after first hearing it used during one of his therapy sessions – is effervescent à la Gershon Kingsley’s Popcorn. There are many variations but, according to Katz, the English translation of ‘jouissance’ is “the itch that demands scratching, a masochistic desire”. Chinstrokerish? Sure, but this is what musical enlightenment sounds like.


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Christened “the godfather of Modern Funk” by Katz, Dâm-Funk (aka Damon Garrett Riddick) loans his pipes to lead single Feeling Of Love – a perfect roller-rink soundtrack: “We need to realign our energies/ And get on the same frequencies, yeah” – brace yourselves for the epic keytar solo! Michael Was Right About You (cute title) – all percolating, escalating bliss – will easily impress your hippest dinner party guests. The robotic Type A, which also ripples with sinewy bass, is offset by a deadpan vocal delivery courtesy of Jack “sos” Summers from Melbourne punk prospects CLAMM: “Because I. Want. It. All.”

An elaborate diagram decorating the flip side of the vinyl sleeve dissects what it means to be funky,  suggesting, among other deliberately tongue-in-cheek claims: “Even the most unfunky moment can be funky.” Said diagram’s final destination is “neurotic funk”, which is the perfect descriptor for Boy’s sprawling arrangements. And we’re tipping Axel F scored high rotation on Katz’s Discman back in the day.

Boy is released under Clarity Recordings/Virgin Records. The Australian release date is April 29, find out more by heading here