Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

TAYLOR McFERRIN @ THE BIRD, SUNDAY MARCH 15

Lyndon Blue: Review

TAYLOR McFERRIN @ THE BIRD, SUNDAY MARCH 15

Andrew Ryan

For a drizzle-scattered weekend that I expected to be subdued, there’s been a fair slather of fun and noise. Friday night we rocked up in a carpark behind Ezra Pound and found it reconfigured into a steamy, bustling dream world – like a Bangkok alleyway filled with beer and throbbing beats, or a generously-sized pontoon upon which a vivacious, stranded cargo cult had ended up worshipping massive speaker stacks and ceremoniously pumped them full of 4/4 extravagance. This was a thing called FREEDOM TIME #1, brought to you & us by the lovely people at {move}, barpop, ezra pound and the INVISIBLE CITY DJs (Toronto) and TAKO (Amsterdam) – to name but a few. Saturday came round and the cyclone up north was coming down, and so was the rain, so a special little thing called YARDSTOCK was postponed, but we managed to catch METHYL ETHEL, USURPER OF MODERN MEDICINE, and SUGAR ARMY at The Bird; all great, intense innovators of the rockmusic tradition in entirely different ways. And tonight we’re back at that avian institution, wandering into a gathering organized by a popular energy drink that gives you wings, and feeling suitably prepped for flight.

As the happy faces floated gradually in, ANDREW SINCLAR and BEN TAAFFE rubbed us up and down with warm, tingly tunestuff. I don’t remember exactly what they played – except for ‘River People’ by Weather Report – but I recall its flow, from downtempo and soothing to more accelerated and daring, always jumping audaciously between genres, palettes and moods, but never fighting against the relaxed and conversational mood of the hour.

A ‘Georgie’s Rum Time’ later MEI SARASWATI could be seen, ever-so-casually setting up her laptop and APC, before sliding into her set of mesmeric patchwork groove as if sinking into a jacuzzi. There are basically two kinds of people – people who love seeing Mei Saraswati perform, and people who’ve never seen her perform. No-one gets out of this unenchanted. There are classics, the sort you’ll find on the ‘Hypermeditations’ collection and a few newer outings like the bouncing ‘Tek Life’ from ‘Small Tunas of The Coastal Plain.’ Mei’s voice ducks, arcs, cascades down terraced scales and hums with rich sincerity. As always, fantastic – and a fitting support to what’s just about to come.

And that’s TAYLOR McFERRIN, who – by way of a pop-cultural introduction – is the son of vocal-chameleon hero Bobby McFerrin (of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” fame). But what’s more remarkable than Taylor’s genealogy is his immense, precocious talent: he’s a modest-seeming polymath who’s positioned himself behind a rhodes, a synth, a microphone and a laptop stuffed with beats and compositions of his own devising. He lets it all flow, slowly but confidently: starting with some crisp, jazzy, leftfield instrumental hip-hop typical of the Brainfeeder label (which he’s signed to) to get us properly supple. This includes the floaty, rich ‘Postpartum’ which recalls equal parts labelmates Flying Lotus and Thundercat. To peddle this admixture would be achievement enough for most, and it would’ve happily sustained a whole set. But there are too evidently too many strings to McFerrin’s bow for him to stay in one place for long. He dives into an incredible beatboxing-meets-singing (meets-live-vocal-remixing) jam, which I’m guessing is called ‘I was on my way to meet you’ (the chief refrain). It’s stunning to hear someone not only reproduce drums, bass and vocals live with one mouth, but to deliver effects that are reminiscent of even the most adventurous electronic production in the same way. He soon adds some live synth too, as if we weren’t impressed enough.

There are a number of his more noted recordings rendered live soon: including ‘Already There’ (the recording of which features jazz-hop behemoths Robert Glasper and Thundercat) and ‘Georgia.’ But he’s not content to simply deliver them: he remixes them live, and soon expands the set into full improv terrain, etching out an incredible house groove patiently until it tranforms into a full blown dance-funk explosion. He improvises a hip hop beat and requests that a Perth MC in the audience jump up and spit over the top; a charming nod to local talent. He gets into even more dense freak-hop territory before hitting a wild home run with a sort of free-jazz, experimental electronica cum house version of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place.” This set has everything you could possibly want, an impossibly innovative and nourishing melange at a free gig showcasing a wunderkind whose music I’d (embarrassingly) never heard before, but will now follow with a hawk’s eye. Not bad for a drizzle-scattered weekend that I expected to be subdued.