Off the back of his self-titled debut in 2015, Roland Tings became a mainstay of the Australian electronic scene. Throughout 2016 he played countless gigs, peddling his unique brand of layered, rolling electro across the country before taking some time to regroup.
In late 2016 he released the first pieces of new music in over a year, with his recognisable arpeggios and percussion accompanied by a slight shift in tone and influences. New, house-ier moments in tracks like ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Eyes Closed’ set the tone for what was to come in the critically praised EP Each Moment A Diamond. As we learned from our recent chat with Roland, this EP was a long time in the making — and perhaps even longer in securing it’s release.
Roland recently embarked on a massive Australian and New Zeland tour, and despite the delays in releasing new music it became clear that fans had not lost interest. Kicking off in March the tour covered Canberra, Wollongong, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane before heading south for Wellington and Auckland. The new live show brings to the stage the two man live arrangement recently seen at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival and supporting RUFUS on their tour.
We were lucky enough to catch the extra Thursday show at Howler in Melbourne, only added after the Friday night performance sold out very quickly. As the Howler band room slowly started to fill, the audience found their feet to high-energy, intricate house productions by Fishing. Highlights from their recent EP Pleasure Dome — such as ‘Yuma’ and the title track ‘Pleasure Dome’ — perfectly set the pace of the evening.
After the support from Fishing and Venus II, there was an atmosphere of excitement and heady anticipation by the time Roland Tings took to the stage — which he capitalised on by immediately launching in to new material. Long, progressive tracks helped build tension in the room — like the distorted harps of ‘Turn Your Face To The Sun’ — and made the most of the impressive rack of synths and relays that adorned the stage.
Accompaniment from a live percussionist gave many tracks an added sense of weight, without overpowering the overall sound output. New numbers like ‘Hedonist’ particularly benefitted from the heightened performance value added by live drums. Its broad, reverbed-out synth lines left heaps of space for the full-bodied bass and punching kicks to cut through Howler’s sound system. Inspired by the Australian outback, the track’s sense of atmosphere made it a stand out on the recent EP and it was received as such live.
More upbeat new tracks like ‘Eyes Closed’ and ‘Garden Piano‘ were spread throughout favourites from Tings’ debut album, which helped to maintain a strong energy during the hour and a half set. The progression from track to track was often seamless, largely due to the extensions and reworks of key elements between each one. The live aspects of the performance helped to transition these extended versions together to create one continuous soundtrack for the night. The slow-to-start but eventually powerful ‘Slow Centre’ proved to be a highlight of these transitions, as it moves from a Bonobo-esque percussion piece into a powerful dance floor shaker. Another highlight was the unexpected move into a Roland staple; ‘Floating On a Salt Lake’. Its drawn out introduction was weaved so effortlessly into the proceeding sounds that the dramatic cut to only the bass line came as a welcome surprise.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of the night came from recent lead single ‘Higher Ground’. The stabbing top line synths and bouncing bassline would have been more than sufficient to raise the energy in the room again, but the inclusion of the first vocals lines of the night (from local singer Nylo) gave the audience an additional element to latch onto and inevitably sing along with. A crowd singing back the words to a recently released song always creates a special moment, and through the impressive light and smoke show Howler had put on it was clear that the two piece on stage were enjoying it just as much as the audience. Bringing the set to a close was undoubtedly Roland Ting’s biggest release to date, ‘Pala’. Hearing such an often-played track live gave it a new energy that the crowd lapped up in their final dancing moments.
Having dropped their debut album just under a month ago, Venus II are now starting to grab the attention of trained ears around the internet. Their unique, quirky blend of both electronic and jazz sounds gives their music the ability to move across any number of genres within the one track. The diversity in their song-writing is easy to recognise when comparing their two lead singles – the cosmic ‘Inside Your Sun’ and the more lo-fi number ‘I Want U 4 Myself’.
It’s the unconventional, off-kilter sound of this recent release, ‘I Want U 4 Myself’, that has caught the imagination of Adelaide film-maker Young Black Youth. His cinematography in the recently released film clip helps visualise the bizarre charisma of the track. Through a montage of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock‘ inspired imagery and psychedelic B-roll, the film clip perfectly riffs on Ella Thompson’s guest vocals and the sporadic moments of saxophone that are layered throughout the song.
Similarly to the audio, the video has a charming, self-aware DIY-feel that is offset by a clearly well-considered composition.
Photo by Sarah Chavdaroska
Music venues around Melbourne house some of the best local and international acts. We’ve compiled our top five picks for gigs this week so you don’t miss out. Be a part of one of the best live music cities in the world, and check out some of our favourite artists and venues.
|Thursday, 8th September||Buy Tickets|
GODS are bringing their psychedelic rock to The Toff on Thursday, using the night to further fund their upcoming debut EP.
RAThammock are playing support as are the beautiful boys of Greeves, who will be preforming some of their new tunes.
|Thursday, 8th September||Buy Tickets|
Northeast Party House are playing at 170 Russell, on the tour for their new record ‘Dare‘ (out this Friday).
Joining them are Polish Club, Twinsy and Osaka, hot off the release of their new single ‘Weights‘.
|Friday, 9th September||Buy Tickets|
Animals Dancing and Crown Ruler are presenting Larry Heard aka MR Fingers in his first ever show in Australia, and second since his return to live shows.
Gigi Masin and Gaussian Curve are also playing on the night at the Melbourne Town Hall, so if you have the means and opportunity you would be crazy not to jump on tickets ASAP.
|Saturday, 10th September||SOLD OUT|
Dreamy party-time dance duo GL are touring their debut album, Touch, around the country at the moment.
They are playing at Howler with Totally Mild and Venus II for the Melbourne leg on Saturday night.
|Sunday, 11th September||Tickets on the door|
Ciggie Sunday is back at the Gasometer this Sunday with Ciggiespiracy.
Tunes will be coming from Tomsk, Service Desk, Max Matthews, Runsthevoodoodown and VJ Isaac Christie for the grand total of $0.
Head down early.