Gig Review: At First Sight Festival

12091349_10153196569596911_2141569986128630729_o

What kind of world do we live in that some fucking ginger kid with the social etiquette of Todd Carney on a handful of pingas can make out with a copy of Slayer’s Show No Mercy AND boogie to NO ZU in the space of a single day> It’s a truly  barbaric thought, and it’s one that came true just a few days ago. At First Sight Festival, curated by Marty Doyle of Dusty Fingers fame, happened over the weekend, and it was a truly glorious time for all involved.

Full disclosure – I was involved in some aspects of this festival, but not anything that could be considered important. Nope, Count Doyle did it all, from booking an incredible lineup which somehow deviated from the usual Tkay Maidza/Hilltop Hoods/Sticky Fingers combination, to the promotion, scheduling, and other organisational duties that no sane person should be willing to take on. Instead, I was tasked with trapping a member of Blank Realm in a car, and chewing his ear off for hours on end. It did mean missing the early portion of the festival, but according to multiple eye-witnesses, Rolling Blackouts and Royal Sitars were best on ground.

The first moments of At First Sight that were seared into my eyeballs belong to the explosive set of Palms. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to their new album Crazy Rack, then fuck off and do so. There’s no reason to continue reading, just plug yourself into this masterpiece for the next half hour and only return when you’re finished. Done? Fucking hell, so you’ve come to the realisation that these Palms dudes would sound alright blaring out from a fuck-off, huge mountain of speakers, yeah? Because that’s what happened; Palms ploughed through all the hits from their two records to date, smashing “This Last Year”, “Love”, “Bad Apple”, and “Beatdown” with the kind of howling ferocity that forces you to lift a fist (IF NOT BOTH) in the air with mashing glee.

TEESNicholas Allbrook and Lucy Cliche all swiftly followed with impressive sets. TEES provided a dreamy set that showcases that their dreamy pop material works just as gorgeously on a stage as it does in .mp3 form, and Nicholas Allbrook brought the weirdness in leaps and bounds. Literally, the man cannot stay still – although his set suffered from such sporadicalness, shifting manically and at an unpredictable whim, the POND frontman remained enjoyable. Lucy Cliche was a bevy of intensity, her thudding, sharp dance music transforming a small bunker at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon into a thriving hive of hungry gazes and shuffling feet. Do yourself a favour, and make yourself as familiar as possible with her work.

This next passage might seem hyperbolic, but it’s not. If anything, whatever words I type next will be under-representative of the insanity that is NO ZU. An eight piece hydra indebted to raising the heat of a room by several degrees, the Melbourne collective had pulses racing at an unhealthy rate. Folks should have been having heart attacks from all the exercise that was going down, but sheer joy and anticipation for what NO ZU would pull out next forced them to party on. They remain to be one of the funnest, strangest, most exotic things on this planet, a laboratory of thrilling genres mashed into a sweaty dance-floor filling experience. Forget heroin, NO ZU are the most addictive substances on the planet.

Still reeling from NO ZU, Nun continued the legacy of Melbourne acts putting on exhilarating performances. A member was wearing a Gutter Gods t-shirt and that wasn’t even the most punk thing on stage. Front woman Jenny Branagan is fucking mental to watch. She is the greatest thing to happen to a stage since our prayers were answered and Dave Growl fell off of one. She jumps, dives, sprawls, screams, thrashes and delivers shriek after shriek, her band’s domineering wall of synth punk throwing jabs from behind her. Incredible – if you haven’t picked up their debut album then fix this gaping mistake in your life with a little bit of this.

Following Nun are Brissy’s Blank Realm, who have been awarded the very prestigious honour of “BEST FARKIN BAND IN AUSTRALIA”. They get this award because they a) wear Pere Ubu t-shirts, b) rock keytars like Duran Duran didn’t fuck it up for everyone, c) are possibly the best songwriters in the country and d) because fuck, have you heard Blank Realm before? They’re amazing! Of course they rule live, how could they not? When you’re a band that owns a cache of tunes like “River of Longing”, “Falling Down the Stairs”, “Reach You on the Phone” and “Go Easy”, it’s hard to be anything less than “BEST FARKIN BAND IN AUSTRALIA”.

Previous duties withheld experiencing My Disco, Broadway Sounds, and most of Andras’ set, but hey, we all know these acts are national treasures, so build a Spotify playlist, and get over it, y’know? Let’s move onto Oscar Key Sung: draped in cloth, the man is pure beauty constructed around eyes of steel and a voice of cotton. His beats switch from lush and textured to the occasional pummel, however, it did feel like he could have benefitted from someone else onstage to help him. It’s hard to fully enjoy a crooner like Key Sung, who is so concentrated on flipping between production, singing and entertaining. He worked best when he was joined by Amrita, who danced their way into all of our adoring hearts, and freed Key Sung up into a party mode.

Moving onward to Total Giovanni – now they’re a band that could give Blank Realm a run for their money. The tagline for this band is “Fun. Incarnate”. With enough energy to power the LargeHadron Collider,  Total Giovanni are Italo-disco superstars, bestowers of the silky sensual. This is a group with only a handful of singles to their name, but every single beating heart in the cavern of Carriageworks was thumping along meticulously to the party that Total Giovanni were delivering. What was the greatest moment? “When We Break” churning a few hundred people into  a sea of flailing bodies? The over-the-top, pelvis-shattering thrusts that took place during “Human Animal? Or the batshit crazy cover of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Precious Rose”? Trying to decide the answer to that question is aneurysm-inducing.

By some miracle, the best moment of At First Sight didn’t belong to any one of the bands mentioned above, but rather, a combination of them via Uncle Donny’s Rotating Sideshow of Stellar Performance aka the Donny Benet Showband’s Tribute to Nile Rodgers. Bringing out all the day’s superstars, including Becky Sui Zhen and Daphne Camf of NO ZU, Oscar Key Sung and Vachel Spirason of Total Giovanni, Donny and co. re-introduced some of the past century’s biggest hits, resulting in an all-out dance bloodbath. The sea was angry that day, my friends. Oh, it was an angry mosh of people screaming, “OH FUCK, I LOVE THIS SONG!” as DB and his merry band played the best version of “Original Sin” since Hutcho called it quits. Special mention goes to Nicholas Allbrook for a very special performance of Mick Jagger’s “Just Another Night”, and in turn, transforming a so-bad-it’s-good song into something so-good-it’s-brilliant.

It’s worth reminding everyone that, whilst all of this amazing music was happening, people were record shopping. Two of the greatest habits, combined into one day! How can someone like me be lucky enough to get The Saint’s I’m (Stranded) and get the opportunity to witness a one-of-a-kind musical experience courtesy of Donny? It cannot be overstated how much of a miracle it is that all of this could happen under one roof: the bands of tomorrow shredding minds and expectations to tatters mere metres away from where some of the most important records are being sold. That’s the dream, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the fucking dream. See you at Carriageworks next year.

Advertisements

New Electronic: NO ZU + World Champion + Movement + XXYYXX

12190811_10153765492079074_8308902955247961770_n

A bevy of tunes for you to use in your next DJ set to piss off people who just want to hear “Hotline Bling”:

NO ZU – Hi Gloss

NO ZU are going to be returning to Sydney this Saturday for At First Sight Festival, and I’m excited. You should be to, unless you hate fun. Because NO ZU are the definition of fun. They’re more fun that going to Disneyland with a Skip-the-Line pass. They’re more fun than having a wise-cracking talking parrot as your best mate. They’re more fun that travelling back in time to stop the birth of Tony Abbott.

Here, let me prove that fact to you right now, with their new jam “Hi Gloss”, six minutes of exotic, sensual, shoulder-rolling, hip-thrusting, knee-jerking groove. Listening to this makes me want to don a turtleneck/teashade sunnies combo and hop into a convertible on my way to a 1960’s nightclub where the STD’s are flying around like mozzies and no one gives a fuck.

World Champion – Shakes 

Also on the At First Sight bill are relative newcomers World Champion. They’ve been gigging for a fair bit, but “Shakes” is only their second track. Released through Future Classic, World Champion bring the vibes that only a true global winner can wring. With Madchester scrawled all over it, “Shakes” is about as euphoric and uplifting as they come, thudding without being overwhelming, and pop without being plastic. Fuck, it’s just a really fun song, y’know?

MOVEMENT – LACE (Demo)

It has been a long time between drinks for MOVEMENT, Sydney’s future R&B legends who propped up everyone’s ears with their EP last year. BUT IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG! TOO! LONG! To be fair, they’ve been opening up shows all over the world, but COME ON! The lumps in my throat from the last time I listened to “Like Lust” are subsiding!

“LACE” comes just in the knick of time, lightly ruffling those goosebumps that MOVEMENT pressed into our flesh so long ago. They might have left us in the lurch for a little while, but their return is enough to give the drools to anyone within earshot. “LACE” creeps at a depraved pace, as affecting as anything MOVEMENT have done before, breathing heavily until you can feel hot air rustling the hairs on your neck.

Apparently, it’s just a demo, but Jesus Christ, if this is the half-arsed version, I don’t think the world is ready for a fully-fledged reindtion of this. Furthermore, it’s a free download, at least for the time being, so grab it and store it in that iTunes Library playlist entitled “I Am So Lonely, Will Someone Please Touch Me? Please?”. Everyone’s got one of those, right?

xxyyxx – Red

 

The combination of xxyyxx’s age and talent is enough to give every big name producer out there a stroke of doubt followed by a mass existential crisis. If a 19 year old from LA can make beats as dark, brooding and sultry as “Red”, then what fucking hope do we have? Delete that copy of Ableton that you downloaded illegally anyway, push away the decks, and send those half-finished demos to the trash bin. I guess the only consolation prize here is that you can now spend more time listening to xxyyxx, and it’s hard to to find onus with that.

New Electronic: NO ZU + Alba + Urtekk + Arthur Wimble

A009811-R1-01-23A

A few vids and a couple new jams from the best knob-tweakers in the country:

NO ZU – Ui Yia Uia

As if this song wasn’t incredible enough, the video for the new NO ZU track “Ui Yia Uia” unleashes itself, presenting the world to the fever dream of the cast from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Saxophones blare triumphantly and bongos are tapped enthusiastically as bodybuilders flex next to muscular kangaroos and the occasional fern. All is bathed in goopy green and pink neon and Jesus Christ, this is one of the best videos of the year.

Alba – Operator 

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/139918911″>Alba – Operator</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/eugeneward”>Eugene Ward</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Jostling, acidic visuals queued up by Dro Carey are paired with Alba’s new jam that comes two years after their stunning track “Knokke”. It’s dark, minimal and feels like it was concocted out of a basement laboratory in the seediest corner of Berlin. It’s another huge win for Plastic World, who have put out releases from the likes of Thomas William, GL and Retiree…actually, this track is just a huge win for Sydney music in general.

Urtekk – Pockets

Urtekk are from Adelaide, and my computer keeps auto-correcting their name to Utrecht. Despite these two facts, they’ve shown, over the course of a few singles and EP’s, that they’re a group you’ve gotta get onto. Long, washed out synth build ups, tantalising tendrils of sound, minimal and dangerous…that’s how Urtekk roll. It’s so great, I don’t even mind the constant stress of having to undo my computer’s insistence that I’m spelling the wrong word.

Arthur Wimble – I Love My Love

Arthur Wimble – sounds like a character that got shelved from a shitty Jane Austen novel, right? A real proper gentleman that ruled Downton Abbey with an iron fist, gently wrapped in silk gloves.

Well, that’s not far from his musical truth. It’s just motion after motion of affection from Wimble’s debut, set to feathered, velvety production. It’s got that same sort of light, fluttering feel that has made Rainbow Chan’s music so essential.

New: NO ZU – Ui Yia Uia

Capture-nozu-096MID

If ever presented with the opportunity to catch Melbourne’s NO ZU, seize that shit. Carpe fucking diem, mate. It’s the most fun you can have with your pants on. Or off, whatever, some venues are stricter than others. The point is, if delirious unpredictability sounds like your sorta thing, you’ve got to catch this band. A babbling stream of synths, backup dancers and whistles (oh god, the whistles), NO ZU are insane.

They’ve done an admirable job of converting that to record as well. Fresh from their contribution to Cut Copy’s ‘Oceans Apart’ compilation, NO ZU have signed on with Chapter Music, and released “Ui Yia Uia”. It starts big, and just grows from there, an enormous blob of moist sound that somehow converts itself into a finale of triumphant trumpets, helium-coated chants and goopy bass. It’s cough syrup for the ears, in that it’ll get you drunker than you’ve ever felt in your life

Interview: NO ZU

NO ZU is an electronic project like no other electronic project. Formed by Nicoolas Oogjes in 2007, and spurred by the “Heat-Beat”, NO ZU is completely indefinable, a broad mixture of horns, beats and exotic vibrancy.

NO ZU are teaming up with Sal of the legendary 80’s group Liquid Liquid, and playing a very special show at Goodgod Small Club, this Friday, January 30th. I caught up with Nick and Sal ahead of the show to chat about influences, staying independent, and the “Heat-Beat”.

R: You have an electronic version of the project – why do you have multiple versions of the same music? 

N: Well, the boring answer is logistics. One of us might go on a holiday, and we can only do it with a couple people. The other answer is that I don’t see it as any completely set membership – it’s always comfortably evolving and mutating. Keeping it that way, changing all the time, and moving back to a big band, which we’re about to do in Sydney, that keeps it a great and exciting project.

R: There can be a lot of members in NO ZU. What’s the largest amount of members that you’ve had?

N: Well, this one with Sal involves nine members, and we’ve gone up to 11 before. So, we try to set a record each time.

R: In terms of bringing more members on, or less, which one do you prefer?

N: I don’t know, they’re like my children. (laughs) You’re ruining the band, you’re making me choose between them!

Not to sound really hippie sounding, but I do see NO ZU as a lifestyle, and that’s why I have that joke “Heat-Beat is lifestyle” –it’s tongue in cheek, but it’s really how everybody feels. There’s no set membership, or which version is better – it was the same when I started the project by myself in 2007. It’s exactly the same band, even when there’s 11 people.

R: You use “Heat-Beat” a lot – what does that mean?

S: [NO ZU] gets the heat going. There’s a lot of creative friction, which makes a fire, which creates heat.

R: One of the most impressive elements is the eclecticism of NO ZU’s sounds – where do you find the sources for these sounds?

N: I try not to intellectualize it at all. I never listen to a song and think, oh, we need to get that drop beat in there, or, let’s get a bass line like that. It’s more about mood, and how music and different art forms have resonated with me and the other guys.

S: Influences are best digested when they’re fully presented. In that, we can’t really tell where they’re coming from. When you can’t really tell where they’re coming from, that’s because you’ve totally digested it, as opposed to just appropriating it. You’re totally inserted in the music.

R: Melbourne is very much considered a home for producers, but NO ZU doesn’t really fit in this scene, and it’s hard to pigeonhole you as anything. Is that how you prefer it?

N: Of course. It’s never about joining a club, or look over and think that you’re part of some movement. I don’t see any excitement in being involved in that.

We were excited to be part of Cut Copy’s [Ocean’s Apart] Melbourne Music compilation. But the thing that’s brought us together on that is that everyone’s an outsider. We share a similar ethos – open-mindedness from different periods of time, groovy music from weird places, obscure music and popular music mixed together in an unpretentious way.

R: How would you describe you’re collaborators for the Sydney show, Liquid Liquid?

N: One thing that strikes me is the really good balance we have in the set now. NO ZU is well known for being maybe overly-bombastic, and crazy.

S: Let’s say excitable!

N: Yeah! We’ve learnt to pull back, and it’s definitely a more considered groove, and it’s a nice dynamic to have in this set we’re working on. For want of a better word, it offers an eclectic experience.

S: It shows a certain continuity…in different feelings, in different forms of groove music. Music that more addressed that body than the mind.

 

Catch NO ZU and Sal P playing this Friday 30th of Jan at GoodGod Small Club. Tix here.

New Electronic Music: Bonobo + NO ZU + Broadway Sounds

Wubba wub-wub wub, Diplo is God. Now that I have the attention, follow me on a journey of awesome new electronic stuff:

Bonobo – Flashlight

Bonobo’s been around for a long time, and is one of the most critically acclaimed electronic artists. He doesn’t resort to gimmicks or cheap tricks with his music, but creates these amazing soundscapes that draw from a multitude of inspirations. “Flashlight” is his latest, and is a well of samples, layer upon layer of sounds balancing on each other, like a Cirque du Soleil of electronic music.

NO ZU – Raw Vis Vision

Like a PNAU lost in the woods, NO ZU (kind of an ironic name, considering they sound like a tribal jungle gathering dressed in neon). Cracking in at six and a half minute, “Raw Vis Vision” is a smooth marathon, flippant bongos and eclectic bass rhythms run through a funky-as-fuck tune with plenty of swaying potential. If Stevie Wonder had been stuck in the Amazon for decades, and then came back with a funkified version of the Hula that involved a lot of whistle blowing, “Raw Vis Vision” would probably be the closest thing to that hypothetically amazing creation.

Broadway Sounds – Something Sensual

If you’re a fan of this new-wave of throwback electro-pop that’s arisen in Australia (i.e Collarbones, Retiree Client Liaison), prepare your mind for the next massive thing. Your eyes won’t believe what they ‘re seeing, and your ears will melt in seduced pleasure. Squelchy beats flashing across a we plateau of laser synths, and bubbles of sound rising and popping everywhere, “Something Sensual” is a steam bath of hedonism.

Tie that down with an awesomely DIY video, that’s part intro’s to 80’s porn, part superimposed burlesque party involving synthesisers , and part fan-fiction from the mind of a depraved alternate-universe David Hasselhoff, Broadway Sounds are going to be massive, especially off the back of something like “Something Sensual”.