Amidst the clamour of the St. Patrick’s Day reverie overtaking Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, ÆTHER Sessions fifth incarnation provided a welcome island of respite. Purposed with bringing together unlikely collections of talented artists, the sessions repurpose Woolly Mammoth’s “Mane Stage”, eschewing a more conventional setup for beanbags, light installations and visual projections. While many of the night’s acts pushed outwards from traditional songcraft, there was an underpinning artifice and accessibility to each. As a relaxed space for music lovers, ÆTHER is fast cementing its own niche within the local scene.
Developing in orbit of Brisbane’s own longstanding DIY network, Ipswich’s underground scene is showing some surprising promise in 2017. Hailing from this unlikely creative incubator, Johnny Cyrus & His Band of Ghosts kicked off the night. Self-described as “cowboy drone” Sub Pop luminaries Earth would also be a useful point of reference. Like their Olympian forbears, the trio weave an immersive sound. Dousing the audience in withering walls of noise, gung slinging western riffs sat atop pounding slabs of low-end rumble and free forming layers of instrumentation. While their ear-splitting sonic assault may not have been for the faint hearted, there’s an undeniable pull to their hammering sound. With an endearing element of wayward weirdness, the appearance of the unconventional trio came as a welcome surprise.
Minimalistic psych duo Amaringo followed on with their typical flair for casual brilliance. It’s been just a little over a year since the pair dropped excellent debut cassette Imagined or Real. In this time the group, now a regular live presence, have continued to refine their lysergic sound with militant precision. With Allie Lin’s percussive thump and sugary vocals complimenting Nathan Kearney’s strident guitar work, the pair’s earthly romanticism cast a spell over an attendant crowd. While the beguiling introspection of The Shape I Make and the elastic time signatures of Mountain continue to serve as centrepieces for the group’s set, the duo also showcased some enticing new material from a soon to be released LP.
Performing as MCKISKO, Helen Franzmann indulged her penchant for idyllic and sprawling sonic constructions. Although Franzmann may verge towards exploratory soundscaping, her folk-tinged vocal grain beckons the listener’s focus inward. Wavering with emotional vibrancy, these delicate vocals provided a grounding counterpoint to her exploratory musical ideas. Building around the loops and samples via a Nord synthesiser and a deftly commanded melodica, Franzmann weaves moody orchestrations. Each track courses outward, a spacious tapestry of sound.
The solo project of Major Leagues’ Jaimee Fryer, Pool Shop closed out the evening’s proceedings with flair. In keeping with the ÆTHER Sessions’ atmospheric dynamic, the set captivated with emotive washes of guitar. Despite the unstructured nature of segments of Pool Shop’s set, some of the finer elements came in moments of gauzed-out pop. Punctuating the guitar driven haze, Fryer revealed some undeniably melodic hooks. This collision of indie and navel gazing fretwork weaves an ambrosial signature sound. A combination of husky vocals and resonant lyricisms placed gravitas behind Fryer’s silvery riffs.
Reviewer: Riley Fitzgerald