Live Review: Roland Tings, Annie Bass, Andras

6 November 2017 | 4:15 pm | Ching Pei Khoo

"The energy on stage infectiously overflows to the solid mass now gathered around, itching to cut loose."

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As the grey dusk filters through the glazed frontage of Melbourne Museum, Andras Fox (Andrew Wilson) welcomes the steady throng of visitors with a subdued, laid-back soundtrack on his sound machine.

The steady, pulsing electronic rhythm is eventually teamed with a mellow, subterranean groove and the mood immediately shifts imperceptibly. Akin to watching a pastry chef create a towering dessert with layers of decadent fillings, so too is the experience of witnessing Wilson gradually build and fold his multilayered soundscape. Instead of a cornucopia of sweets, he combines sourced sounds with those of purest nature, like spoken word, snippets of French dialogue and tinny percussion with bird thrills, wind rushes, low rumbling thunder and a tolling bell tower.

Familiar to Triple R listeners as one half of the Strange Holiday presenting duo, Wilson knows what's hot in the world of proto-electronic, new wave and ambient sounds this side of Ibiza. Yet he remains true to his chosen style in understated beats that build up to a memorable climax. It is the perfect accompaniment as we head to the neon-lighted sangria bar and kick-back on the luxuriously deep leather seats.

The electronic notes from his climax transitions smoothly into the effervescent, emotive vocals of Annie Bass (singer-songwriter Annabel Weston) on the electronic keys and loop pedal machine. Weston is the heart of the triple line-up tonight. It could be that her session features the most spoken words, or that the lyrics themselves bear such emotional resonance that a growing number of visitors stop to gather around her and listen. Already well known in electronica music circles, Weston's vocals and emotional hook are impressively displayed in While I'm Waiting and Don't Want. Both are danceable yet meditative numbers to lose one's self in.

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Her vocals impressively skim over the terrain of her undulating beats and electro-synth notes. Her tracks however, often come to an abrupt cliff-hanging end all too quickly. Unfortunately, the sound system and location of the overhead speakers at the axis of the floor space mean that only those standing directly in front of the mini-stage can hear her words clearly.

A bonus for the curious-minded before the main act is a generous intermission time to explore the vast realms of the museum. Armed with glasses of bubbly, the audience wanders under dinosaur bones, squeeze their heads into a living ant colony, challenge the methodology of their minds' workings and enjoy a 3D cinematic experience of the geological birth and formation of our planet. 

House man of the moment, Roland Tings (Rohan Newman) pulls out all stops tonight by adding a drummer and a guitarist to his usual solo act. The energy on stage infectiously overflows to the solid mass now gathered around, itching to cut loose. Newman initially obliges with a thumping set, with tracks playing on repetitive loops of synth-pulses and steady electro-rhythms building to euphoric wallops of rapid-fire drum kicks. The siren-ringing Floating On A Salt Lake is an anthem to suspend and surrender. When Newman dabbles in a couple of more subdued disco-infused numbers midway through, however, a sizeable flock of the crowd move to the wings to either chug more booze or take selfies with the two larger than life bee props 'flying' through the venue. Thankfully, Newman draws them back quickly from the bottles of insect specimens in formaldehyde with more dance-worthy house numbers, and the beauty of the energy exchange is a sight to behold. We want more moments like this.