Quietly and seemingly overnight, Australia’s electronic and dance music scene has become one of the most vital, innovative, dynamic, boundary-pushing and influential in the world. Flume is politely and humbly taking over the globe, headlining festivals worldwide; his mate What So Not has been supporting Skrillex across the USA; Wave Racer is about to tour the States with Chromeo, Nina Las Vegas and Anna Lunoe and Chet Faker and RUFUS are making inroads stateside, Motez is about to make the jump, and waiting in the wings are the likes of Kilter, Touch Sensitive, Willow Beats and Peking Duk.
Add Wollongong duo This Mess to the list.
The pairing of Tace McNamara and Jim Wilson have been making soul-tinged electronica and beats in the Illawarra for a few years, but with the release of album ‘In Half Light,’ the duo are surely on course for bigger and better things.
Hazy instrumentation, woozy electronics and sputtering, shuffling percussion collide with hip-hop inspired production and gorgeous female vocals. The band just as easily embrace dreamy, twinkling, lush chillout tunes (opening track ‘Noir’) as the more hard-hitting, hip-hop influenced, Flume-reminiscent ‘By My Side.’ The James Blake-esque ‘Home’ clips and skips and shuffles along, propelled by a wobbling bass track and Tace’s soulful voice calling to mind Erykah Badu or Kimbra.
The more upbeat ‘Suddenly’ seems purpose-built for disco-house dancefloors, all stabbing synth notes and splashy cymbals; mid-album breather ‘Glowbe’ is layered vocals and wooziness. ‘In Half Light’ concludes with the slow-burning ‘Speak of Angels,’ perhaps the most sparse and simple yet touching track on the LP. Just a reverberating synth note or two and a minimal percussion track and the odd guitar lines, it is the antithesis to what has come before it. ‘What have you left for me? What else is there for me?, Tace croons, her voice sitting alone but for the shimmering synths. ‘You speak of angels but you have no faith in us,’ she declares, as the album comes to an abrupt end.
The soundtrack to late nights and early mornings, comedowns and hookups, ‘In Half Light’ is a stunning reminder that music can pop up from anywhere and surprise you – with just 700 fans on Facebook and not much in the way of a wider presence or following as yet, this record sounds a million bucks and could have just as easily have come from Berlin, New York, London or Los Angeles as sleepy Wollongong.
“I like the idea that dance music can be dark and have a bit of depth,” the band write in a track-by-track explanation posted on their Facebook.
“It’s really rewarding making a track that has space and soul. Producers often feel pressure to make bangers but often I find there’s more to gain by making music that’s deep and thought provoking. I love it how in This Mess I have the opportunity to make bangers and ballads.”
Bangers and ballads – not a bad way to describe ‘In Half Light.’
The album is available at “name your price” on Bandcamp now.