Mei Saraswati, Flower Drums, Tourist Kid
Friday, August 29, 2014
Sometimes you just have to throw a spotlight on someone. Dan Griffin (no relation, by the way) is an unassuming kind of guy, but as Sacred Flower Union, he’s forged a huge discography on the sly over the last two years; seven solo and split tapes in the time it probably takes Axl Rose to get his pants on and amble down the driveway. On record, his instrumentals are submerged in the atmosphere of the tropics, existing amongst the hums of mosquitoes and the seethe of insects. You know, like VHS tapes of the Amazon. It might be gorgeous and prehistoric, but it’s not wild. In person, however, Sacred Flower Union is one of the best things you can spend half an hour on in Perth.
Griffin builds his lo-fi jungle synth instumentals from scratch with drum pads, pedals and keyboards, stacking polyrhythms like he’s playing Jenga on opposite day. The dexterity with which Griffin wields a set of drumsticks is incredible, and the sight of him jumping up and down, thumping out complex rhythms – if there was a second that he wasn’t pogoing, I must have blinked. Even when his equipment malfunctioned midway through the enthusiastically begged-for encore (“Hey, uh, sorry! My pedals aren’t… working!”), he recovered and constructed an ecstatic jam that was as frenetic and intoxicating as the rest of his set. If you want to talk about best kept secrets in Perth music, get onto his bandcamp and dive in pronto.
Beforehand, Mei Saraswati bewitched The Bird with her sampler-based star & b. Her music is like a kitchen devotional, full of the largest emotions but sung in the humblest, realest way, like midnight advice from an older sister, or a joke your granddad made a decade ago with a significance you’re only just grasping now. Equally as prolific as SFU, she wove a set that leant on tracks both old and from her forthcoming new tape.
Flower Drums closed the evening to a dwindling crowd, which was likely due to the fact it was bucketing down all evening. Having toured America, they’ve logged some serious miles on their live act, and they glided through their dreamy set with the precision you’d expect, despite some early sound problems.
The overwhelming luminescence of their live recordings is hard to replicate live, and the Drums colour inside the lines gorgeously on the arrangements, but the presence was somewhat lacking; you know, all wave, no crash. Leigh Craft has a voice in the Connan Mockasin range, but he didn’t cut across or rise above the velvet carpet the Drums were laying out together. That said, the new tunes were fitting parts of the quilt, and all things considered, it’s hard to know what could possibly follow a one man marching band and come out as riveting.