Monday, December 7, 2009


Monday, April 14, 2008 
Northcote Social Club

The Lovetones epitomise what most of these Sydney bands who get signed before their 5th gig and have very nice gear, no original ideas and predictable song structures will become in 10 years time. While they're not playing anything actually offensive the sheer dullness of their dynamic and hook-free songs boarders on insulting to their equipment if not to us. One can only imagine the divine 12-string Burns or gorgeous Gibson the guitarists use yelling out through it's pick up 'Stop being so lazy! I wasn't made for blandness!'. Bassist and keyboardist Matthew Sigley does however have talent and writes interesting parts, giving the band what little bounce it has, but it's not enough to pick these songs up.

Dimmer however, keep their songs down, way down, and sound all the better for it. Pushing sub-bass like Lee Perry but keeping the music firmly within the realm of hypnotic rock, each song builds gradually from ex-Straitjacket Fits frontman Shayne Carter's muttered vocals and stuttering guitar, vocals that peter out after the opening minute to be replaced with subsuming caverns of sound. Carter uses an e-bow with a proficiency rarely seen while guitarist James Duncan squeezes heavenly squeals of feedback from his malfunctioning Firebird. Crystalator, The Seed, Degrees of Separation and killer closing song Pacer are perfect examples of their trademark musical quicksand; mid-paced thuds, murky two-note basslines with soaring and diving guitar lines hanging like vines overhead. Needless to say this all goes down especially well with the by-now packed No So.

It seems everyone in Melbourne who knows who Spectrum is finds themselves within these walls tonight, and it is a safe bet that most of them will be here tomorrow night for his second show. 'Different Set. DJ Set' read the fliers he hands out mid-gig to the front row: 'half price with this flier'. A piece of chipboard with an array of pedals, a sequencer, a small mixer and a couple of littlesynths on top of it is placed front and centre. Soon follows Sonic Boom aka Spectrum aka Pete Kember who begins tuning a guitar he doesn't use and spends the first few minutes searching for a small red clip that he uses to hold down keys on one of his keyboards. Once these formalities are dispensed with we are treated to an hour's worth of Spectrum and Experimental Audio Research material that he renders beautifully through his DIY-style setup. Often closing his eyes as he attenuates the tremelo or delay effect, Spectrum layers sounds in a way that echoes simpler moments of Kraftwerk and more complex moments of Karaoke for My Shadow. This Is The End sees vocal samples cut up while most of the rest of the set is warm synth sounds and filtered melodies played with a simplicity that can only come from honed experience.
Ending with a cover of his heroes Suicide's Che, he then returns to the stage for Spaceman 3's tribute to the band, Suicide, with an enthusiastic Dimmer who back Spectrum brilliantly in recreating the chasms of barely controlled anger that make up this modern classic. All in all, a trip.

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