Thursday, April 3, 2014
After leaving us for the ‘warmer’ climes of Melbourne, supernova of talent and Perth’s musical messiah Lyndon Blue returned for the launch of his electronic EP, Slowlight, under the moniker Leafy Suburbs. Armed with an array of buttons, effects and an enlightened dance floor sensibility, Leafy Suburbs is the spearhead of a new wave of Australian musicians who are embracing the permeation of techno and dance music into our cultural ecosystem.
The night started on a gorgeously mellow and almost sombre trip with an acoustic set from Jane Harris. Apparently hailing from Berlin and with a number of releases to her name, the otherwise mysterious Jane Harris filled the room delicately with her smooth and gentle sound. Simple, endearing and rhythmic guitar provided the perfect base for her coy and crystalline vocal top lines. While missing some of the percussive and orchestral elements of her recent record, Misery Cares, this did not detract whatsoever from the emotional content and the high notes were entirely shiver-inducing.
Craig McElhinney took to the stage next with his deep and cerebral construction of archaic sonic architecture. Droning synth lines punctuated by analogue crackles and a variety of ethnic instrumentation were combined expertly into distinctly primal collages of sound. Fast paced drum lines provided an energy that almost verged on dance music and some of the tunes conjured a vibe akin to that of experimental jungle or footwork music.
With minimal fanfare, Leafy Suburbs positioned his on-stage shrub just so and proceeded to create. One of the most striking things about this performance was his ability to build almost arrhythmic soundscapes, thick with both organic and synthetic textures, before pulling the experience together with what were often heavy techno kick drums and classic claps. In one track, a heavily detuned note in the main melody line was used to build suspense before the progression was resolved cleanly and as expected; the relief and mental pleasure bordered on the carnal. The addition of layer upon layer meant there was always a new sound or moment to indulge in, and among the audience could be seen faces of quiet reverence and necks of nodding enthusiasm.
The quality of this Leafy Suburbs release should be of no surprise coming from such a talented individual, but it was the content that I’m sure would have surprised many of Blue’s fans. To use a horribly outmoded and often loathed term, this was intelligent dance music. While the EP is currently only on a very limited run, it is a piece of solid gold that I can imagine will become highly sought after. Leafy Suburbs has created a moment in the history of modern music representing one of many possibilities and permutations, executed effortlessly and channelled superbly by one of Australia’s finest talents.