Melbourne is the most extraordinary city. With more music venues per capita than anywhere else in the world, it’s become a magnet for Australian musicians, generating a scene unlike any other. The combination of that concentration of talent with relative geographical isolation has led to a collaborative culture with overlapping bands and projects springing up like mushrooms. Add a relatively liberal and bohemian atmosphere – certainly in comparison to Australia’s heartland – and a sense of connection to a stunning coast and countryside, and you get fertile soil for creativity.
And that creativity exhibits itself particularly in a blurring of the boundaries between electronic and live music. This tendency has long been part of the Australian musical psyche, going back to the early 2000s when electronic bands like Melbourne’s own Cut Copy took dance culture onto big festival stages. Jazz, soul and hip-hop got rolled into this too – with the extraordinary Hiatus Kaiyote the city’s biggest musical export of the 2010s – leading to a point now where a very distinctive sound has emerged.
Credit: Weyne Yew / Unsplash
It’s a sound that can span from the ‘90s rave-inspired beats of Nite Fleit, Roza Terenzi and Rings Around Saturn, to the rootsy soul of Danika and Emma Donovan, via the rarefied beat science of Silentjay and Hiatus Kaiyote drummer Clever Austin – all in seamless fashion. It’s sophisticated but infused with the joy of people playing and partying together, radiating a sense of music for music’s sake.
A glorious compilation, Sunny Side Up from Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood imprint showcased the soul and jazz influences of the scene – but it has continued to be endlessly prolific ever since. Even the new single from Harvey Sutherland alone – included in our playlist – demonstrates just how inseparable the jazz and electronic parts of this scene are. Pretty much every track in this list is less than two years old, and this is barely scratching the surface. So turn the speakers up, and even if you’re in the middle of a northern hemisphere winter, let a little Aussie sun into your life.
Cover Credit: Krista Purmale / Unsplash
Writer | Joe Muggs
Joe Muggs is a writer, DJ and curator of many years standing, covering both mainstream and underground. His book 'Bass, Mids, Tops', covering decades of UK bass music, is out now via Strange Attractor / MIT Press, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at tinyletter.com/joemuggs.