Words by Zoe Sainsbury
There is a definite mushrooming love for electronic based music in this country, despite the fact that we lack a “scene”.
By that I mean, historically Australia has been late to the party in providing exposure for producers of electronic music. Where some electronic music styles were born in underground clubs in the UK & Europe, we lack the numbers to even sustain niche venues here (or $3 barcardi breezer specials at the local RSL won that war). It’s hard to put a finger on...
Community radio aside, experimental electronic music has only just started to creep onto Australian airwaves, and most of the time, it comes from pressure from social communities, festival slots and artists selling out shows independently. Seeing the fans and demand is obviously there - the safe-playing baffles me!
You’ll notice playlist adds often have to involve radio-friendly pop hooks or digestible elements to not “freak” the broader listener-ship out... which is understandable, as Thom Yorke croons, everything in its right place. But DIGITAL RADIO (which we are also late to the party on as a nation) will change all this… IT WILL I PROMISE!
For now however, it’s back to trawling blogs and soundcloud... *sigh* It is fortunate that lovers of electronic music are pretty savvy and that word of mouth (or word of facebook) still exists. Zuckers, I'm making you a mixtape.
These 20 artists are examples of those who have managed to cut through and create their own waves sonically and independently.
Get ready to wet your ears, appetite, other regions in all these Aussie sounds….
PS. I’ll try not to use many wanky terms or make pigeonholing comparisons to describe the artists' music and give you an idea of their sound… bear with me though peeps - I mean people.
These guys kick off my list as they are truly one of the best electronic acts Australia has to offer, their sound is so unique and progressive: Aussie Intelligent Dance Music at it’s best! I know the trio are fans of post-dubstep outfit Mount Kimbie and they definitely lend a few fingers to that genre as well as referencing post-rock soundscapes (Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai etc). Regardless they can fill a dancefloor as much as they can your head falling asleep at night, their music is that wonderfully diverse. An act to see live without doubt, tour deets on their Facebook.
Definitely a soundtrack to public transport journeys if your not due home at any specific time… I missed my train stop the first time I heard this… “Mingus” off their 2nd album +Dome.
And here’s the single that scored them an Australian Independent Music Award, “Blood Bank” off their debut LP The Sound of Trees Falling on People. You.Need.This.Album.Fullstop.
Jack Vanzet is the Melbourne-born man behind the machinery in this outfit, producing some really dreamy soft-pulsing electronica. If you like Tycho, Mux Mool, Telefon Tel Aviv, Helios (I also swear his track "Synchronous Bloom" has a likening to Gold Panda... respect) or artists in that vain, you feel your way into Jack’s music with ease. He’s just released generous 9 track EP you can stream/download from his bandcamp below: it’s music I’ve really enjoyed tripping round the city to on an overcast day…
3. Oliver Tank
A man who caused a lot of mouths (& bloggers fingers) to flap upon the sneaky soundcloud upload of last year’s “Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion” (now standing at over 43K plays). His music makes you imagine open starry skies – it’s like the soundtrack to your favourite dream. Although his music speaks for itself, Oliver’s engagement with his fan base (Facebook/twitter) has really helped it get heard… aspiring artists could take a virtual leaf out of his digital book!
Two beatmakers, Russ & Doug from Sydney invite you into this rollicking colourful world of sound – I don’t why - but it reminds me of sailing adventures taken by characters in children's books (one of their tracks is called “Book of Ships”?) or as if they’ve sampled a selection of Wiggles instruments for 3 yr olds. Whatever they’re doing it works, and they make it work live too. See what you think below & go check them out. Tour deets on their facebook. They just posted a news single btw Choy Lin, It's our Byte of the Day, listen here.
Another duo from Sydney, Thomas + Sam produce this beautifully glitchy spacious beat music… what to liken it too… Schlomo, Scuba… and they’re supporting Mount Kimbie on their Australian tour so it makes sense they overlap into that post-dupstep sound enough to bag that slot. I love this track… that famous Marley vocal line floats so sweetly over the beats….
When I first heard his (aka T. Gill’s) track “One Who Can’t Move” it stopped me in my tracks… or typing. That rich vocal hooked me first; backed by raw piano, trailed closely by a soft muted bongo beat: it just carries you off into some warm sun-filled location in your head. Wow. If you like it too, keep a finger on the pulse of his Tumblr page for release and tour updates. His debut LP Commitments is out now in Australia via Two Bright Lakes (an awesome Melb indie label).
Guerre aka Lavurn Lee is definitely a man who understands the use of breathing space and well placed handclaps, as does fellow artist James Blake who you could liken his sound too. I can’t for the life of me remember the 1st track I heard of his that pricked my ears, so I give you his latest effort; a remix of another obscure aspiring artist Rainbow Chan (saw her at Peats Ridge – total up & comer) and her track “Sweet Tooth”. Again if you like what you hear, hit up his Tumblr.
I just saw the fresh-faced Harley Streten aka Flume support Chet Faker (dude... check him out too. THE BOMB) on the Sydney leg of his tour - and for such a young dude – boy can he command an audience. It was pumping! It was his bass-ey summery track “Sleepless” ft. Anthony & Cleopatra that first caught everyone’s attention in Australia but his remix of French producer Onra’s track “The Anthem” is more indicative of the flavour of his live set: bringing all those hip-hop influences to the forefront and making the dance floor boards ache under the pressure. Flume is big on the book of face, hear more here.
A brand spanking new Newcastle six piece (technically a band), who according to their facebook, only played their 1st live show last new years! Whoa! I managed to catch these bubbling sample sleuths at a gig in their (and my) hometown a few weeks back; they sounded tight. A live rendition of this track "Anchoress" (which this demo doesn’t really do justice) had smokers stubbing just-lit cigarettes to zombie-walk inside, totally mesmerised.
But it was this track “Kaleido” that first caught my ear… it’s just so deliciously layered and paced. Take it away…
10. Kid Fiction
This dude, Louis Isaac aka Kid Fiction is the shit! Beatmaker from Sydney who sounds a bit like a mix of Fly-Lo and this rad producer from the UK Bullion (he was out here for Laneway Festival) although he varies from bass-y hip-hop grooves to spacious Sigur Ros style ambient soundscapes. Looking at his Tumblr laden with photos of the world and beyond… he seems like big-picture-thinking creative – and I dig that. This track “The Stuff That Happens In Between Birth and Death” is a fave… but make sure you listen through on his facebook for the ‘bigger picture’.
Synth-based pop at it’s best or ‘nu-disco’ is what you can expect from this Western Australian outfit: John Travolta could easily spin off that 70’s multi-coloured-lit floor straight into one of their gigs without hustling a beat (just lose a little off the bell bottoms maybe). Following in the footsteps of artists like Miami Horror, Canyons etc their short little funky guitar riffs, 80’s drum machine fills with parallel bass and synth lines that commandeer your feet. This track is epic. It features the Wolf & Cub's Joel Byrne on vocals… dreamy. Hit up their soundcloud for more goodness.
These guys combine tribal beats with power-pop synth; and damn it’s catchy. Well this track “Mind Virus” is at least… Reminds me a little of The Presets earlier work as well as the work of an experimental pop duo Tanlines out of Brooklyn – and if they sound like something out of Brooklyn well then you know it’s the sound of the future – right? I am told they put on the craziest live show with costumed backup singers and dancers… wild times. I must see them! (I think I was gabbing about the under-use of the vibraslap in modern day music to a prospective suitor in the wrong bar at the time - classic mistake). YOU See what you think...
I think I first came across “We Left” somewhere on soundcloud a while back – and thought – behold - what is this new hypnotic beat-based electro-pop? Well their style isn’t “pop” per say, it just cross-fertilises different genres and in doing so manages to plant seeds in your head and puppet your limbs without you even knowing (their sound reminds me a bit of Chemical Brothers softer numbers “Another World” and “The Pills Won’t Help You Now”) You have to see this Sydney trio live to get the full experience. If these guys don’t get some more press this year I’ll be very disappointed. Their new Blue EP was just released, but if you like this track, go back and get their first self-titled 2011 EP – it’s a #killer. Facebook = here.
This is their latest one too ”This Summer”
I first got wind of this guy via a mix he did of Matt Corby’s “Brother” - probably the best I’d heard (and there were quite a few). He’s a house producer from Sydney, I think you’ll dig his sound if you like: Aeroplane, Flight Facilities – it’s really smooth and makes you imagine European summers by the pool (even if you have never been) I saw on his facebook he is working on a Catcall remix – yippee! IN the meantime, get moving to this…
Guess what! He just posted it today - timing. Have a listen:
Swimwear if you didn’t know is one of the dudes from Dappled Cities, Tim Derricourt – makes you understand a little more how the band’s sound manages to cut-through all the other indie mediocrity... Only in very recent days did Cosine Records sign on to distribute his latest A-side Nowhere to Run/Easy HighLead track “Nowhere to Run” is one breezy pop jam – if you can’t sing along to this chorus after 1st listen it’s your own fault. I’m not sure how Tim balance’s his schedule, especially now Dappled Cities are set to release their new album… the only way is up!
16. Oscar + Martin
These 2 boys from Melbourne have such a unique sound: perfect little popping beats overlaid by sweet little edible melodies made for an impressive debut LP released in 2011 entitled For You (out via Two Bright Lakes). I love how honest and raw their lyrics are too. There's lots of soft little peaks of heartfelt sincerity which make you really want to know the characters behind them. I have seen them live 3 times and the warmth they vibe onstage really fills the room. Go see them on tour now, check their facebook. This an unreleased album track:
Five suave multi-instrumentalists make up this Melbourne band – and yes that’s essentially what they are – but I thought I’d throw them in this list 1. As they deserve more recognition and 2. They’re heavy on the synth, funky baselines and the odd handclap effect makes a welcome appearance every now and then – always a win in my book. The way they layer their vocals, especially in this track “Edge of Extremes” (an older one) is a little reminiscent of Hot Chip too. Supposedly their new album is pretty much finished, stay tuned on their Facebook.
This is their latest we’re still spinning… "BrightLightsBigCity" (directed by very talented mate Alex Goddard)
18. Elizabeth Rose
I already featured Elizabeth Rose in our Top 20 Indie Artists to Watch in 2012 – but I will continue to crap on about this one-woman superstar! She has killer vocals, but these are just a whimsical cloak to her expert production skills: looping together some really unusual samples - almost tribal on this track "Ready". The quirky vocal layer mixed with her own to sound like auto-tuned pan-pipe – very creative – and she lets each part see light in all the right places. A must see live! Well fate be on your side she's on tour this May/June! Details on her Facebook.
This is the new video for “Ready” was shot live (by another talented friend Sian Bates).
A band I forgot to put in my Top 20 Brisbane Bands You Need to Check Out list, despite their deserving. What a diverse combined sound they have: electro, pop, even drum & bass (hear “Aurora”) makes sense since the boys come from a mix rock, electronic and even jazz beginnings, much like Hermitude. Since the saxophone made a giant comeback internationally in recent years, I’m surprised Pigeon flew under the radar of accolades for its use, especially in this track “Stratosphere”. I caught them at Peats Ridge Festival this year – what a live set. You can too, they’re on tour now, Facebook has the deets.
Two boys from Sydney and Adelaide come together to create this self-proclaimed “long distance internet teen pop” - I lol, but they’re right – there’s no neat little pocket to slip these guys’ collaborative sound into. They’re incredibly experimental, but weave together all their different sonic textures so well - damn - it just works. If you dig artists like music that both challenges and moves you; perhaps if you like: Tokimonsta, The Books, Baths, Animal Collective… just listen though, see what you think. I saw them support Neon Indian in Feb and they were entrancing…
Please do me the honour of dropping your faves I've missed in the comments!!!
IF you have a thirst for underground Aussie music you might like these articles too:
20 Aussie Indie Bands to Watch in 2012
20 Brisbane Bands You Need to Check Out
Also check out my Top 5 Tracks of the Week features spanking new internationals too.