As I roll along a shadowy Roe Street and pull into that driveway next to Metro City for the first time in a year or so, I realize It hasn’t really sunk in yet that The Bakery is closing. The Northbridge venue, which I’ve been visiting since I was in high school, has played host to so many intense, joyful, weird and charming nights: among the disco balls and shipping containers I’ve been held in the thrall of countless music whizzes, from Marnie Stern to Madlib, Boris to Badbadnotgood, HEALTH to Healing Crystal Meth. There have been nights of peaceful introspection in the curiously cavernous space – like when Grouper played, or during intimate Club Zho performances – and utterly debaucherous bacchanals, like when an ascendant Pond drummed the crowd into a ferocious whirlpool of sweat one memorable summer’s night, or when Wavves occasioned a full-blown, destructive, hedonistic stage-invasion. There are no venues forthcoming to take The Bakery’s place, so while great shows will continue to occur, nights with the Bakery’s particular flavour may soon be a memory in Perth. This starts to hit me as I carry in my equipment, say hi to Luke behind the sound desk, and greet Sam who’s setting the mood behind the decks.
That’s SAM KUZICH, by the way – who can be seen fielding nimble drum duties whenever wild future-jazz combo Cosmo Gets come out to play. They were set to appear tonight, but due to injury, no such luck: luckily Sam furnishes us with an ample supply of mellow, deep and freaky cuts, mostly falling within the spaced-out jazz fusion sphere or else in the sticky pits of deep, organic funkiness. I set down my instruments; this is my first show back in Perth after a year or so away and I’m pretty nervous about it, so I start sipping on the Asahi beers on hand, and Kuzich’s grooves help ease my mood.
And if you ever needed music to soothe you, you couldn’t ask for much more than LEAVING, aka Rupert Thomas, who soon appears set up on the floor in front of the stage. The literally down-to-earth, floating set of synthesizer meditations and gently echoing drum-pattern patter soaks into your skin, imbuing yr mind and body with unpretentious, pure and simple musicality: Leaving’s music is minimal in its construction but crafted with utmost care, making for a deeply satisfying listening experience.
I’m given the undesirable task of following Leaving, but I have a real fun time anyway, and after me come the stellar MUDLARK. These two gentlemen crashed on my sharehouse’s couch last time I saw them, when they came over to Melbourne for a handful of very well-received shows. But I’ve not copped an earful since then, and they’ve clearly been workshopping their sound. Warsame’s drumming, as intricate, taut and curiously sprawling as it’s been, sounds somehow more dynamic, resonant and clear than ever. Steven’s guitar, meanwhile, has taken on a new fluidity and seems to be running through a bunch more effects, so that the result is even more abstracted from traditional guitar sounds: more of a seething liquid energy than the percussive sound of steel strings.
LOWER SPECTRUM provides an intricate, chameleonic set of hi-res beatcraft, rhythmic noise lacework and glimmering synth melodics. It’s less ambient than I’d expected, and less traditionally “dark” – though there’s still a gentle sinister edge to much of what the producer/composer (elsewhere known as Ned Beckley) spins out. Performatively, he’s animated and involved, an enthusiasm that translates to the discernably bouncing group of listeners in front of the stage.
MEI SARASWATI, is a late but undeniably great addition to the lineup, bringing her finely wrought post-pop, neo-wetlandia concrète-RnB to the now-bustling boulangerie. No-one in Perth, or anywhere as far as I know, pairs such meticulous, masterful production and vocals with such a casual onstage presence – and the result is a now-familiar alchemy, where you can bathe in a kind of heavy brilliance while “letting it all hang out.” It’s addictive, and when Mei wraps up with the throbbing ‘Tek Life’ the crowd demands another tune – so, despite the insistence that she’s fresh out of “bangers,” she delivers the excellent and flamenco-tinged “He Knows,” and the boogie is in full force. And speaking of boogie, the hefty brainpower of Tim Loughman’s BASIC MIND soon comes to deliver the most rhythmic set yet in the “gong room” – his analogue house adventues, propelled by the steamy animism of acidy bass syncopation and synthetic percussion cooked to perfection – is totally undeniable.
Meanwhile over in the ‘Methods Room’ we have the relocated Methods of Movement party, set to take place at Gilkison’s but subsumed into the big bakery party on account of Anzac Day liquor laws yonder. Some serious talent behind A gentleman named HENRY MAXWELL gets the airwaves sizzing; local hero Jo Lettenmaier aka TONI YOTZI fills an hour or so with her ever-tasteful, compelling crate-gold and funky maverick EDD FISHER (who span up a storm recently at Sugar Mountain) guides us into a hefty set of groove-waves that we surf into shore, when the lights finally come on and security start shepherding us out. But even then, a few encore anthems zip through the air to get the kneecaps popping again. The room is a swirl of grins and limbs. What a time.
When a gong is sounded, is resounds through time and space, its vibrations travel beyond our ears – who knows how far? The bigger and louder the gong, the further the ripples through the fabric of the universe. The Bakery may be in the throes of its final gong clangs, but vibrations like these will be felt deep into the future, over at Mercury and Mars, and in the dusty corners of our spiral arm. The ripples carry our taxi along the illuminated streets, to our homes, where we collapse in a happy stupor: pulsing, electric dreams spinning like disco balls in our skulls.