Live Review: RTRFM's Distant Murmurs

20 January 2016 | 3:37 pm | Alex Griffin

As RTRFM’s sorta-new flagship event, Distant Murmurs is starting to feel like the year’s real curtain-raiser for live music, like the moment the orchestra pit starts to tune or the pill actually kicks in. 

Last year’s edition fairly blew the lid off the Rosemount (even and especially the open-air courtyard), with Split Seconds and Pissedcolas nailing it, and immense sightings of full-band versions of Mei Saraswati and Eleventeen Eston. 

A hard act to follow, and while this time around the highlights weren’t as towering, it was better wall-to-wall, and the packed rooms by the end of the night indicated Distant Murmurs (a name that’s really hard to render affectionately, unfortunately; DMs? Murms?) is pretty much a deadset fixture now, an indoor and sorta soused In The Pines

Pool Boy opened the main room, evoking the vacant horror of Xiu Xiu at Jamie Stewart’s most dead-eyed to a steadily filling Rosie. Before that, the live Bahasa Malay band delivered on the promise of her prolific recordings of 2015 and then some, going from must-hear to must-see in the space of about 12 seconds. Regular Boys are humming along nicely, moving from their promising but shuffling demos towards more nuanced songwriting a truckload of group singing. Lee Napper’s Courtney Barnett is more dead-eyed than deadpan, but earthy enough to feel less like a facsimile. The further we go into this decade, the way in which dole wave-derived music is approaching a variety that suggests it’s less of a genre exercise than it is the True Form of vernacular, Australian songwriting, closing the loop between the Yobbo song and Spy Vs Spy (issues of class appropriation, sucky jangle, etc, aside). Basically, it’s not a flash in the pan anymore. 

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Erasers were defiantly austere to a less-than appreciative crowd in the beer garden, underlining the fact that hypnotism, like the tango, takes two.  Back at the main room, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets play music that’s exactly as dexterous as it is sweaty, like someone rolling a joint in a sauna. The lyric sheet reads like sub-Hunter hogwash, but when they’re in flight, they’re pretty much a burning astrological chart. Someone said that the snare sounded way too boomy, like Phil Collins, but it played out the stadium-sized big-better-bigness of their tunes. I’ve met people with Bob Marley flags in their rooms, and this is for them. Not since Sonpsilo Circus departed has there been a straight-up-psilocybin psych band in Perth so well and truly looking at and through the wall while tearing through it. Get in or get off the bus, I guess.

Almost overnight a little while back Kitchen People flipped the switch from sometimes-mega Sonics to moving towards being like, actual contemporaries of Ausmuteants. They more or less throttled 459, driving the material (pretty much exclusively from their forthcoming new record) as if it was stolen, and the back of the car was on fire. Bad Mates is pretty much the aural equivalent of that video of those kids on Scarborough Beach having the brawl from a couple of weeks ago. My brother started crowdsurfing, which was really, really messed up. 

As HAMJAM blasted off into the night, Cooked was pretty much on the money; as a way to get back into the swing of seeing bands in Perth after the new year hangover, there’s never been anything better.

Originally published by X-Press Magazine