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Live Review: Mathas, Empty, Bahasa Malay

9 September 2015 | 6:53 pm | James Hanlon

"The room was swaying and bouncing in sync and the faces were lit with a marvellous tint."

It wasn’t just the boozy concoctions of malted milk and spirits warming the souls of Perth’s winter weary denizens as Mathas treated us to a preview of his up and coming album Armwrestling Atlas. In the newly refurbished Jack Rabbit Slims, which boasts an atmosphere pretty vastly superior to that of its predecessor, punters were gifted some diverse and thoroughly uplifting beats and rhymes and life.

First up and replacing the unfortunately unwell Felicity Groom was the experimental but highly groovy Bahasa Malay. Disjointed electronic rhythms and warm, reverb-laden synths were dusted softly by her clean yet often mournful vocals. A perfectly gentle opening to the night, but the slightly experimental nature of the music meant the crowd were a little wary at first, but opened up gradually as Bahasa found her swing.

The man Empty took to the stage next with his irrepressible brand of conscious hip hop. Empty has knack for building deep and emotional narratives into his lyrics while framing them with undeniably groovy and danceable beats. His flow could be used to set atomic clocks and his ability to connect with a whole room in an egoless and personal fashion should be held as a paragon of modern emceeing. 

A moment needs to be taken for DJ Nathan J, who kept the floor moving between sets, providing a wicked selection of classic boom bap bangers and some modern flavours as well. Biz Markie isn’t played in clubs enough anymore.

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The act of the night Mr Mathas stepped to the stage next, which had been appropriately decorated with the vintage particulars that colour his well considered and dynamic performances. With the release of his new single, Free Shit, not more than a week ago and to great acclaim, an almost dark aura surrounds his new material,  seeming to come from an individual that is comfortable with complex and challenging subject material and who is able to deliver it in a hypnotic and almost comforting fashion. 

Mathas’ eyes flashed around the room as he paced and enunciated with perfect clarity a stoic disposition in a world of heartbreak. The room was swaying and bouncing in sync and the faces were lit with a marvellous tint. Great music for the modern world from all artists involved, and the hopes of a great new platform for varied and interesting music in Jack Rabbit Slims.

Originally published in X-Press Magazine.