Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Northcote Social Club
Given the distinct lack of any What Is Music?-type festivals in recent times, gigs like this are the type to be savoured by anyone tired of typical noises and scenes, setlists and predictability. Or rather, the potential meeting of minds, venue and audience of this type are to be savoured. Tonight's thinly populated gig both delivered more than most gigs hope to, and disappointed profoundly.
Opening with the highly random yet totally spot-on choices of tonight's DJ Oren Ambarchi, (free jazz with a heavy backbeat and some mad panning. Nice.) without really linking the acts, his choices seemed part of the illogical sense that governed the music tonight and, gave a hint of the history that none of the bands would be drawing from, complimenting them beautifully.
Francis Plagne - a perfectly judged choice of support - are first act up and prove again, Melbourne has it. Do you want a perfect balance between psychedelic-folk, C86 and extended bursts of soundscapery? Done. Francis and his three bandmates have evidently thought about narrative and pacing more than many film-makers, and it's clear that as much, or even more, thought has gone into the nature of the soundscapes than the vocalised, more conventional parts of his songs. Songs pull themselves from the experimental sections and dive back into them in a wonderfully affecting way, the members moving between instruments in the way AIH don't. Maybe it was the tired and vulnerable state of so many there that night, but there was an emotional edge to the music that carried in a way rare for people experimenting with sound in this way. Bowed cymbal has never mixed with warmly feedbacking bass and sine-wave processing in a more satisfying way.
Following this came an artist clearly pushing a different barrow. Robin Fox kills the lights, empties a tonne of dry ice and proceeds to take up all to Planet Thwop where squelchy bleepy warm sounds blast, accompanied by an occasionally synchronised green laser that treats us all like a bar code. Dehumanising yes, but sexy and probably amazing on the right drugs.
The headliners took their sweet time coming on and sweeter time between songs, feeding the palpable lethargy that bonded the room. Autistic Daughters travelled a fair number of collective miles to be here ("All the way from Austria motherfucker" as one punter put it), so, given their impressive pedigree, one would have thought that when they began a song it would go somewhere. But no. Astonishingly sensitive and effective drumming, subtle and precisely textured guitar work from the two Radian members weren't enough to save Dean Roberts' meandering directionless songs from slow-motion, sleep-inducing train wreck. Given the sounds he has made to work with and the potential of all involved, it's disappointing. The final song which was more shoegazer than any other, letting the sounds be sounds more than any other, and succeeded in creating an atmosphere, but, all in all, we've got it all already, and better.