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Live Review: Hiatus Kaiyote, Jaala, 0.1

17 August 2015 | 3:04 pm | David Adams

"It's a magnanimous, soulful offering from one of the Australia's most talented groups."

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Before we begin, let us meditate on the concept — no, the feeling of — groove. It's a weird magnetism, outside the teachings of science or religion, but revered with the same fervour. It can strike without warning, sending unsuspecting listeners into involuntary (but not entirely unpleasant) rhythmic tremors. Now, on a drizzly night in Brunswick, a congregation has gathered, supplicants and parishioners to almighty groove. 

The first offering comes by way of new, local trio 0.1. Choppy drumming wrangles with abrasive synthesiser lines, and almost succeeds, but the plaintive frontman's underwater vocals and non-sequitur bass excursions work to pull away from the rhythm section's promising foundation. For a few moments, the sound congeals and a direction is found, but without anything more solid for the band to centre on, the whole thing threatens to rattle itself apart.

Jaala burn their way through their set. The sound is smooth '60s jazz, mutated by radioactive fallout to the point where it's grown fangs. With plenty of bravado and grit, courtesy of the band's fiery frontwoman, Jaala roll pristine guitar harmonies with stuttering off-beat diversions, showing a clear lineage with the night's headliner.

Now it's time for the sermon. Hiatus Kaiyote's weapon of choice? Velvet knuckledusters. Every chord struck, every beat hit, every note summoned from singer Nai Palm's raspy depths oozes power and presence. The clinking of her oversize earrings, audible through the band and three-piece vocal back-up section, only adds another layer to the Melbourne band's relentlessly plush instrumentation. Miraculously, the band members never play over each other; with so many pieces vying for attention, it would be all too easy to showboat. Yet when keyboardist Simon Mavin and stunningly tight drummer Perrin Moss duel solos, it only propels the groove forward to an ecstatic crescendo. By Fire is delivered with convincing maximalism, while set highlight Breathing Underwater shows off the band's dynamic control.

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As the set ends, the three back-up singers are encouraged to riff on the track; it's a magnanimous, soulful offering from one of the Australia's most talented groups.