Review by Denis Semchenko
Pictures by Andrew Wade
Judith Wright Centre, Friday July 20
It’s certainly been a while since the Judy hosted an all-local math-rock/cinematic music extravaganza – and while a particular, Nikko and Screens-featuring event which took place at the same venue last year comes to mind, tonight’s crowd is no less decent in size and radiates plenty of excited buzz.
Following a brief warmup set by Silo DJs, Hunz – aka local DIY electronica extraordinaire Hans van Vliet – steps behind his familiar modified synth/laptop setup, hits a number of keys and all of a sudden it’s like back in the old days at The Troubadour. With the powerhouse rhythm section of Richie Young and Phil Evans working behind him, the “one-man Radiohead” (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that comparison somewhere – provided I didn’t come up with it myself in the first place) quickly gets into his element, flailing and rocking out like a demon while simultaneously working his rig.
The bulk of tonight’s set comes from Penny Time EP – the soundtrack for an iPhone game van Vliet also developed. Even though he doesn’t sing much this time, his unbelievable voice is still very much the same, effortlessly taking all and sundry into goosebump territory with an emotive I Got Chills. A masterclass from a true maestro.
This reviewer has now seen Mr. Maps a whole number of times since 2008 – when they were still playing music that could be loosely termed “post-rock” – however after the 2011 release of brilliant Wire Empire LP, the five-piece transcend the majority of assorted “post”, “math” and “prog” boundaries. Tonight is no exception either – and if you haven’t seen the collective live yet, I urge you to put it on your “must-do” list straight away.
Launching a split clear vinyl 7” Owl Highway/Those Boards Won’t Work On Water with Hunz, the Lofly stalwarts are in imperious form despite the house mix not being perfect: Andrew White’s bass could have easily been given more room and Jac Hicks’ snare is practically inaudible amidst the dense tom/bass drum rumble. Long one of the more underrated Brisbane guitarists, chief ideologist Chris Perren isn’t short on jumpy arpeggiated riffs, while Briony Luttrell attacks her cello with violent grace, forcefully bowing the instrument as if she’s sawing it in half.
Outstanding compositions on par with 65daysofstatic’s best output, Wire Empire favourites Step Step, Nice Flights and Tennis Party get a warm round of applause. Things get even more intricate when keyboardist Mitch Knox picks up a guitar during several numbers and by the time Perren brings the band back onstage to do an obligatory encore, everyone is positive they’ve witnessed a world-class display from a band deservedly worth the praise.
DENIS SEMCHENKO Formerly Rave’s Geared Editor, Denis presently divides his time between writing endless articles, playing guitar in two Brisbane bands and collecting vinyl. You can annoy him @musojourno