It’s an exciting time to be a fan - or maker - of weird music in Perth. Though the scene has been more or less healthy for as long as I’ve been tuned into it, sometimes projects require structure to really flourish – which is why the introduction of two new record labels/performance curation teams, two nights in a row strikes me as so auspicious. The first was on Thursday, over at 459 bar: this was the launch of TONE LIST, an exploratory label I wrote about recently. It featured the mystically quiet Breaking Waves Octet, the polychrome synth-wonder of Lana, the arcane trumpet propositions of Dan O’Connor; the vivid laptop emotions of A.R. Jones, the dynamic guitar/drum interventions of Jameson Feakes and Alex Reid, the film-noir-meets-spasmic-free-jazz windings of Lenny Jacobs’ Spookhouse - and FRIENDS(x5)’s idiosyncratic, post-digital hip hop edits via DJ sets to seal the deal. And the weekend hadn’t even started yet.
Friday night brings the arrival of DEEP WATER, a new record label and events project - or in their own more eloquent words, an “incremental multidisciplinary showcase of Perth talent within leftfield contexts.” As I walk into the room I see a giant floating brain glistening with hologram patterns and an elaborate shrine of gumnuts, flowers, candles and a paper head. It’s clear this team aren’t going to do anything by halves.
ANDREW SINCLAIR is the perfect selector to cut the proverbial ribbon, being a tireless champion (and creator) of wild music, from Perth and beyond. His sets tonight are varied expositions of all things real and sparkling, from the A+ Carly Simon / Nile Rogers collab “Why” to the pulse of London Afrobeats crew New Age Muzik. It’s impossible to shrug off an Andrew Sinclair mix – something will always stick to your brain like a big grape hubba bubba.
AKIOKA follows up, backed by the lush and engrossing visuals of DOLPHIN SECRETS (Amy Priemus). Akioka is the electronic music of Tessa Darcey and her live sets are one of my favourite things in town at the moment. Beyond having excellent songs and a haunting voice with which to render them, there’s an inexhaustible sense of play: layering, chopping, twiddling to create wholly unfamiliar soundscapes. I’ve never seen Animal Collective live but tonight I feel like this is the closest I’ve come, with Darcey plumbing a similar well of vocal cocoon moods and psychedelic dizziness.
DENTISTRY is the new project of Rory Glacken (Tourist Kid) and Jack Burton, both of whom are also behind-the-scenes figures in tonight’s proceedings. The collaboration is a promising prospect but none of us really know what to expect. What we receive is a deeply invigorating half-hour of invigorating techno, beginning in darker atonal territory before moving into synthetic chords and melody, all the while quickening the bloodstream and demanding human movement. They’re joined by another local experimental stalwart – BAHASA MALAY, aka Nora Zion – who gracefully layers vocal drones and minimal melodic motifs, reverb-drenched and blurry-edged, over the relentless rhythms. I’m grinning throughout, and so are they, and the whole room is thick with blue and purple smoke and the dancefloor is undulating like a giant dog’s tongue wagging. How does such a beautiful project emerge for the first time, fully-formed and self-assured? I don’t know. I’m just viscerally glad of it.
BASIC MIND completes the picture: Tim Loughman filling in the remaining time ‘til midnight with his rigorous analogue dance-studies. While I’ve usually encountered Basic Mind in juicy, neo-primitive bloop-house mode, tonight’s offerings pull in qualities from less 4/4 heavy corners of the map; the opening tune sounds like it might have been infused with the spirit of Dam-Funk, and there are hints of breakbeat syncopation making their way in through the cracks. Basic Mind isn’t a wild, unpredictable melange in the same way that say, Akioka might be – it’s more slow and steady, a measured sculpting of marble, and these new subtle tinkerings acknowledge a progression this way and that, the imperative of exploration beating in the project’s neon heart.
If tonight was a one-off blip of an event, I’d still have been thrilled. It would still have left an indelible mark on my memory. But this is part of a trajectory – following on from Rory’s ambitious ‘Drone Zone’ events – and perhaps rhizomatically growing in accordance with similarly minded projects like Tone List. With little attention to aesthetic trends, but meticulous attention to presenting impressive, diverse creativity in an engaging setting, Deep Water #1 is an encouraging sign of a burgeoning new musical landscape. Let’s go swimming.