untitled

07 Mar REVIEW: Herzeloyde – ‘4D’ EP


The Operatives‘ latest agent Herzeloyde celebrated the release of his new EP 4D (via Trench Records) over the weekend in Sydney, and I feel more proud than I thought I would given I have no personal connection with the artist. I’ve followed Herzeloyde from when he was an elusive Melbourne producer who pushed the sounds that we were all shocked to learn were not coming out of LA. It was during a time when future beat was so fascinating (as it still can be), but also seemed more exotic because not many Australian producers had mastered that style. But Herzeloyde was not just impressive because we share a hometown — his music and artistic integrity was, and is, boundary pushing.

A few years have passed and Herzeloyde is still equally as awe-inspiring. His latest EP has prompted me to revisit the genre, after a month or two of not having listened to much. So I have this EP to thank for having rediscovered my love for it, too. Sometimes I listen to one genre for too long and it can feel hackneyed or stale, but 4D successfully refreshes this sound for me. I especially love the funky moog-ey synth lines in ‘outsider‘ and ‘dark soul,‘ and the syncopated rhythms in ‘sonar‘. Each sound is dignified, with Herzeloyde using layered sounds to create a rich texture you can roll around on. However the intricacies aren’t lost in a deep pool of sound — you can appreciate each one independently. I am really enjoying watching Herzeloyde thrive, and am very excited for what is ahead for him.

 


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violet-swells

16 Feb ALBUM REVIEW: Violet Swells – ‘There’s No Time Like Eternity’ LP






Warped guitars, dreamy synth, catchy vocals and mesmerising bass are inherent components in all psych-rock. Being able to present such sounds in a unique way, and being distinguishable from the cliches that the genre has formed is difficult. Tassie-based Violet Swells‘ second album, There’s No Time Like Eternity (released on Hobart’s own Zodia Records) not only acknowledges those cliches but presents them in their own passionate way.

Influences from artists like MGMTPond and Tame Impala are evident throughout, and at times the music strays into being very similar — yet this is not a negative trait. One of the great things about “genre”-d music is that we can celebrate new artists presenting existing sounds in their own authentic way. Over six tracks, Violet Swells explore those sounds and structures with confidence.

An immaculate flow is apparent throughout the record, with singular components heightening each moment through intricate solos. From catchy synth chords to the rippling, distorted guitar and humble bass, there is a moving and captivating element within each track of There’s No Time Like Eternity.

Another way in which Violet Swells have drawn on the history of psych-rock is through admirable vocals and lyrics, raising questions on abstract subjects and concepts. They express their own ideas in an original way, a way which works symbiotically with the music and creates an impressive soundscape across the record.

From the synth-lead ‘Midnight Masquerade‘ to the enticing and joyous ‘Infinity In Your Eyes‘, the calming interlude of ‘Apex Of The Sun Away‘ and the intricate concluding track ‘Amok Time‘, Theres No Time Like Eternity is a compelling composition of music. Well and truly on its way to becoming your favourite modern psych-rock album, as it has unquestionably become one of mine.

 


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beyond-solutions

22 Nov REVIEW: Beyond Solutions – ‘Sleeping Surfaces’ EP






Formerly known as Javed de CostaBeyond Solutions released his new EP Sleeping Surfaces last week. Australian label THIS THING‘s latest release inspires me, as their releases often do. The artists on this label energise my perception of music as an art form, because they transcend the superficial inclinations by which music can often be surrounded. I see THIS THING as musical innovators of Melbourne – creating their own sonic realm where boundaries do not exist. Beyond Solutions achieves their desire to create a record that is both a clean, finished product, as well as a manifestation of the tension exerted to create an EP.

I feel drenched when I listen to Sleeping Surfaces, in a way that feels cathartic. Beyond Solutions explores ideas of how the world is tainted by the promises surrounding utopianism, and the hollowness it represents. The thought of just how addictive and hollow utopianism can be is really confronting. When I approach the EP from this perspective the sounds resonate in a way that can feel eerie, but there is also a refreshing sense of solidarity in that idea.

Sleeping Surfacesis not just a refined and boundary pushing EP sonically, but conceptually it feels intimate – as though the sound progressively unlocks doors tucked behind layers and layers of the artist’s psyche.

 


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capture

02 Nov REVIEW: Nutrition – ‘These Days Don’t Exist’ EP






Nutrition‘s deep and expansive production is reminiscent of the Byron Bay Hinterlands from whence he came; there is a sure sense of natural space and exploration within his atmospheric releases. However that is only one reading of These Days Don’t Exist. The EP (released on October 13th) takes the listener on an aural journey that is wide open to subjective interpretation. Publications ranging from Vice‘s Noisy, Thump, and Sydney’s FBi radio have tried their ears at dissecting Nutrition’s genre bending beats, with consistently positive results.

The stand out and title track from the EP, ‘These Days Don’t Exist’ is a great example of the journey the whole release offers. Intertwined bass and synth melodies create a hypnotic pattern that is simultaneously engaging and disorientating.

Tracks like ‘Lost’ and ‘Dream Walk’ feel built for a dance-floor, not unlike Melbourne’s forward thinking Paradise Music Festival, which he played last year. With a growing body of work behind him, more major dance-floor appointments are sure to be on the horizon.

 


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25 Oct REVIEW: ELISABETH DIXON – ‘LP1’






Steady bass guitar, ghostly synths, a singular strum of a distorted guitar, a lightly chiming bell, percussion and a soft erratic kick-drum beat begins Elisabeth Dixon‘s new release, LP1. The Melbourne-based producer experiments with industrial noise and drone techno to create heavy atmospheres throughout her impressive five track debut.

After a dark yet calm build within the first part of ‘Limit Experience‘,  a raw 4/4 beat kicks it all off, revealing LP1‘s direction.

At times, industrial noise and drone techno can be overwhelming. Multiple layers of abstract sound fighting for clarity, creating an intense haze. Elisabeth Dixon avoids this haze. Raw, well mixed layers intertwine magnificently and allow a dooming melancholy to resonate.

Each track has a unique component to it, blending the LP together smoothly. The layers of ‘Limit Experience’ intelligently blend together. It twists you through a dark vortex, which then slowly releases you into a lion’s den in ‘Dispose‘. The deep growl of a lion and softened screeches of what sounds like a race-car add a welcome quirkiness to LP1.

The haunting vocals in ‘Technique Of Self‘ matched with lightly bleeping aggregated sounds are tantalising. As the sounds of marching bring in and end the track, a rough droning guitar, rattlesnake percussion and echoing drums begin ‘Discipline‘. Matching well with the end of ‘Technique Of Self’, and moving from 4/4 techno into animalistic breakbeat, ‘Discipline’ will cause any eerie, dark dance floor to erupt.

After the droning guitar of at the conclusion of ‘Discipline’, a fast-paced beat begins ‘Intervention‘. Echoing percussion and twisted bass are the focal point. The dark and playful atmosphere provides a moving final track. A singular beat and an industrial robot call sounds, bringing an end to LP1.

Elisabeth Dixon has produced a debut LP that is intelligently structured, incorporating expected and unexpected sounds that fit well within techno as a genre. Each individual track inherits an exciting atmosphere, flowing freely throughout as a whole.

LP1 is out now via Instruments Of Discipline and Trait Records 

 


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16 Sep REVIEW: Amateur Dance – ‘You Give Me Butterflies’ + Anjunadeep Explorations 02






British imprint Anjunadeep has been at the forefront of explorative dance music since its launch in 2005. For the past 10 years, it has acted as a platform for many respected house musicians to launch more experimental and forward thinking records, and notably their recent project ‘Anjunadeep Explorations’ is testament to their strong commitment to find a wider audience for these new artists and sounds.

On recent release Anjunadeep Explorations 02 it was exciting to see local Australian talent Amateur Dance was included with his track ‘You Give Me Butterflies’. It opens the four-track EP, giving listeners a great taste of his evolving, fluid production. The track’s hypnotic combination of melody and samples fills the seven-minute run time effortlessly, making it a wonderful opener to an all round excellent EP.

Not only does it sit well amongst the other international producers on the release such as, Luttrell, Tontario and Gacha Bakradze, but it is a definite highlight, and proudly presents a confident snapshot of Melbourne’s local talent to the world.

 


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10 May Album Review: Au Dré – Self-titled EP

 

 

I have been following this Melbourne act fairly closely over the past few months, each release and each show surrounding them with more and more thrill and momentum. Having already released ‘Climax‘ and the opening track ‘Wanna Know‘, their self-titled EP release exceeds my anticipations. Though the duo are involved in multiple musical projects, as Au Dré they are proving their dynamic and refined musical identity. There are so many reasons to love the sound, energy and emotions the pair bring with their art.

From Here‘ brings out a new energy without sacrificing what has now become their signature sound. They carve a smooth and fresh niche for themselves despite drawing inspiration from multiple genres, and the new tempo and mood of this second track adds a lovely complementary shape to the EP as a whole. While each track stands alone, the atmosphere is balanced and cohesive throughout. Audrey Powne‘s striking voice glides gracefully yet powerfully atop the power ballad percussion of the chorus.

Though the rhythm changes notably in ‘Other Woman‘, the flow between the two tracks feels natural and exciting. The novel vocal melody juxtaposed with sharp speech brings out the same charisma you notice from the pair live, while the rolling hi-hats and half-time mix things up nicely. I am in awe of JamBau‘s production as well as Audrey Powne’s trumpeting, especially in ‘Give and Take‘ – Au Dré are masters in the art of drawing on iconic elements of new jack swing, boogie and RnB of the ’80s and ’90s, without ever sounding clichéd. Their musicianship refreshes the sound, paying homage while making the sounds their own.

The EP closes on a high note. As Audrey climactically and emphatically sings “and it’s over now”, you realise, oh, she’s not joking. At this point I didn’t want it to end, but at the same time they’ve managed to fashion an EP that feels utterly complete. Now, I can’t wait for the launch party.

 

Catch Au Dré alongside DxHeaven (also launching an EP), CC:DISCO and Cocoa Noire this Friday at the Gaso – details here.

 

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sjjxl

19 Apr Album Review: Silent Jay and Jace XL – Sacrifice EP

 

I want to dance and sway upon first listen. I’m already looking forward to listening to each song again and again.

Sacrifice is an abundant source of  innovative production, authentic lyrics, nostalgic and humble homages, and honest poetry. The EP is a testament to the powerful art and dynamic creativity produced when two of some of Melbourne’s most praiseworthy musicians, Silent Jay and Jace XL, team up. The pair create music that transcends convention, yet they still manage to instantly hook you with their sonic artistry.

From as early as the ‘Intro‘ I can tell that this EP will be whole. It reminds me of a foreword in a novel; I feel alerted to the idea that this EP will be create a picture that is complete, with all colours full and vivid.  It is a warm welcome into the vistas of their experience, and the art they have to show for it. They draw you into a totally new setting that feels genuine and heartfelt.

Just Waking Up‘ is both enchanting and natural – it’s a rare feeling when your body clock follows the turns of the sky and you realise the day ahead of you is yours to share with those you love. I treasure those days. In this track, I also find a new way of loving rolling hi-hats. The combination of  harmonised vocals and undulating filters is so fresh, as is the glowing image brought by the sound of the morning birds tweeting at the end of the song.

The lyrics, which make me feel so nice and toasty at times, flow perfectly through the harmonious vessel that is Jace XL. Their music is so musically intricate and clever without ever being pretentious. ‘Sacrifice‘ comes in fittingly. It gives me nice dual feelings of familiarity from having a precious memory of hearing this live, as well as a newfound admiration hearing this in a new context. I am now able appreciate new extents to Silent Jay and Jace XL’s artistry, and details that I perhaps overlooked previously in this song.

From seeing them live alone, it is easy to recognise how artfully they carry the weight of each other’s sound. In ‘Rockabye‘, Silent Jay’s production is smooth, calming and gentle; Jace XL’s lyrics express an endearing sense of vulnerability, while allowing them to resonate in so many surprising ways. The dynamic between the pair is like a 1000 piece puzzle on the floor, dancing, twirling, meandering its way between infinite complete pictures again and again – but they make it seem effortless. The alluring tone of ‘Everybody‘ adds a striking shape to the EP. It stands out in a way that is exciting and delicious.

The feeling of satisfaction exists throughout the whole experience, but continues to shock me. This idea is accentuated in the journey throughout ‘Brisvegas‘. I wonder about the encounters and events that inspired it, as the song continues to develop in a whirling climax. I imagine (and probably hope) it to be the soundtrack of a tale set in the mystical town – Brisvegas.

Vibrate‘ is the perfect way to conclude the experience that became from Sacrifice. A high note and a cool down in one, the EP comes to a dignified end with this beautiful song in which I completely soak myself. Both musicians’ voices melt into each other.  I feel so positive about the idea that this EP is a debut, and I’m excited to see how Sacrifice will see the deserving pair of musicians thrive.

 

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good morning

09 Feb Album Review: ‘Glory’ by Good Morning – They may not even be aware of their own potential

Overproducing an album can often be a sign of perfectionism, but just like any food manufacturing process, it can result in a loss of natural goodness. Many musicians love to write music, but they just aren’t natural songwriters and need to overproduce in order to achieve anything substantial. Then there’s Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons of Good Morning who, just like the titular character in the movie Good Will Hunting, are so naturally gifted and yet may not even be aware of their own potential.

Even other respected Australian songwriters such as Courtney Barnett or Marty Frawley (Twerps) may appear to write songs straight from a pure stream of thought, but even they need to chisel away at their craft in the studio. Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons often sound like they’ve just woken up, written a song, nailed it, and then recorded it straight away. The EP’s first track is even titled ‘Overslept‘, where they sing, “What in the world should I say?” They’ve recorded the song before they’ve even realised it’s recorded.

This isn’t to say that the duo are stumbling buffoons who keep getting lucky. They’re clearly talented guitarists who, by the end of ‘The Great Start‘, had me convinced that they had travelled from the future with an arsenal of stolen guitar parts. Then there’s the endless amount of memorable melodies that would make Mac DeMarco jealous because they sound far less formulated than Mac’s. That dreamy, soft, Brooklyn lo-fi period between 2008-2012 is definitely an influence on the duo, but whereas many of those bands were style over substance, Good Morning are substance over style.

You can’t often clearly hear what they’re saying outside of song titles, but it works as an exclamation point, in the same way you might think to yourself before making a statement out loud. When the band could just ride the assertive guitar hook in ‘Cab Deg‘ to carry the song, they pull off a catchy duo harmony in a way only conjoined twins should be able to pull it off. If you’ve seen their stage banter, which consists of regularly making fun of each other without any possible threat of truly insulting each other, you’d think they were brothers.

I’ve seen them cover the Victory Curtains & Blinds jingle at Paradise Festival, but it’s not all fun and games. They sing, “I’ve been drinking / It doesn’t change how I feel” in ‘Give Me Something To Do‘. ‘To Be Won‘ paints of the picture of a sorrowful person, staring out of a window while it rains outside, an image that actually featured on their first EP cover. There’s a longing for something more in the distance. The young band already travelled to NYC last year to perform. The ambition is there. The songwriting is there. The talent is there. Just exactly what Good Morning want to be is still a work in progress. The two main influences I keep hearing, Broken Dreams Club EP by Girls and Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter, are positive steps in an interesting direction. I’ve even seen the guys attend several electronic events in Melbourne, which would bring another dimension altogether to Good Morning.

Glory isn’t the album that’s going to make them a household name just yet. Maybe if they had condensed the 17 tracks they’ve released in the past 14 months into one album, that album would’ve made a bigger statement. However, the subtle diversity of Glory confirms that Good Morning aren’t restricted by parameters. Their only restriction is themselves. Once they start taking risks and the vocals become slightly more prominent, they’ll find themselves up the top with Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett.

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nozu

02 Feb Album Review: NO ZU’s ‘Afterlife’ is 45 minutes of warped bliss

Trying to describe NO ZU to someone who’s never heard of them before is a similar feat to trying to convince someone that you’ve been probed by aliens. You’ll spout fantastical, sci-fi theories; tales of wicked, neon lights scorching your eyeballs; looming figures from otherworldly dimensions armed with technology and ideas far superior to our own. Your voice gets more frenzied as the account reaches its fevered pitch, roaring through descriptions that feel hyperbolic but are actually understatements. Your brain searches to find the sort of exotic depiction that will do justice to a beast of this nature, but your friends, co-workers – and, eventually, your therapist – laugh it off as hallucinatory delusions.

And sure, there’s no definitive proof that Nicolaas Oogjes and his Heat Beat Leisure Wear compatriots aren’t from another planet. But whichever galaxy they do call home, they were kind enough to stop by Earth, and grace us with their second full-length, Afterlife, a delirious new peak of heart-pounding, nerve-frying, pupil-dilating music.

Melding disco, funk, new wave, electronica and more, NO ZU weave through their music with a flair and ease that seems unnatural for a group of mere mortals to conjure. There are many subtle touches apparent in Afterlife, from the shriek of a whistle, the smash of a bongo, the claw of a synth hooking its fingernails into your pleasure index – all these little flourishes combine to create a sound that’s huge and enormously gratifying. It all results in an album that not only demands repeat listening, but actually rewards it with newfound soundbites each and every time.

NO ZU are so weird, so strange and demented and twisted – but they’re contagious and infectious. It’s a terrifying prospect to attempt to pick a highlight to Afterlife – it’s easier to just admit that the whole thing is 45 minutes of warped bliss. Any attempt to refuse entry to the cult of the Heat Beat is to flirt with the impossible. Succumb to Afterlife, and NO ZU will reward with eternity.

Afterlife will be released this Friday 5 February on Chapter Music.

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