Freelance writer from Sydney. www.theaureview.com/user/james-odoherty
Published August 9th 2011
On the 2nd of July, the crew at The Gate did it best to warm up cold Saturday night out in the suburbs at Pablo & Rusty's Café in Epping with a delightful selection of up and coming producers and song-makers performing for the packed room.
It was a night of the one-man band Saturday, with Tim Fitz kicking off a night of synths, beats and loops in the Epping café. The north-western Sydney local redefines the meaning of 'control-freak,' using percussion, guitar, keys, and vocals simultaneously to create his multi-layered electronic sound. Everything is performed live, with the help of a loop-machine, showing just how far impeccable timing and internal rhythm can be stretched at the hands of someone so talented.
There's a somewhat existential or over-thought thread running through a lot of Tim Fitz' lyrics (though not at all in a bad way). I can't help being reminded of the honesty in the low-fi bit-pop of Art Rush, another resident of the area and a peer of Fitz' age. Maybe it's something to do with growing up in an area of Sydney that finds itself lost, with an identity that's much harder to define than others. Seen especially in the track 'Disposable Youth', it might be something about the quietness, and the distance from a tangible youth culture. Maybe it's this reviewer who is, in turn, over thinking something inherent to all youth. In any case, the lyrics are well placed, and hit home with the delivery of a voice that can be both thin and breathy or punchy and energetic, when needed to be. It's hard to go past the sheer technical mastery and creativity seen in 'Faust' (which, by the way, is based on Christopher Marlowe's 1604 play Doctor Faustus).
With a somewhat thinned out crowd, the 20-year-old Elizabeth Rose took to the tiny coffeehouse stage. The second act of the night young enough to make this reviewer feel like he has achieved nothing with his life, Rose is a singer-come-beatmaker whose synth-pad and laptop are used to make driving, engaging electro-pop. Obvious comparisons have been made to Bat for Lashes and (of course) Bjork. The 20 year-old could best be described as the rebellious lovechild of Seekae and Kyu – especially in 'Blue', where Rose tempered a driving synth bassline with a gentle keyboard melody floating as if underwater, crowned with a voice to rival the best soprano songstresses.
The Townhouses is the brainchild of Leigh Hannah, an ambiguously named solo project that fuses the beats of Elizabeth Rose with the guitar use of Tim Fitz. Hannah, who played to a crowd not large enough to justify his talent, creates beautiful ethnically flavoured electronic ambient pop, drawing especially from African and Caribbean sounds. The standout feature of The Townhouses is Hannah's exquisite vocals, drifting wistfully above his melodies, wonderful in its natural high pitch. The blissfully ambient soundscapes of the likes of 'Indian Elephant' were an exquisite way to end the evening.
So while a trip to Epping might not be what everyone wants from a cold Saturday night, the warmth of the welcome and the quality of the destination is worth it. The café's coffee machine in full swing certainly doesn't hurt either.