Since the transcendence of Hiatus Kaiyote with their blend of cosmic jazz-soul freneticism in 2012, Melbourne has firmly placed itself on the musical map. Birthing the likes of Harvey Sutherland and his live disco revivals, Andy Hart’s Juno journeying and Krakatau’s psych-rock experimentation, the Australian city holds a special place in the hearts of British music fans. This is largely due to Rhythm Section founder Bradley Zero’s travels to scour out the best new talent to host back in his London hometown. The last couple of years have seen Rhythm Section put on shows by Harvey Sutherland, release music from Hiatus Kaiyote backing singers Silentjay and Jace XL, as well as two EPs from Prequel. A departure from the label’s normal focus on producers, they are now set to release their first band from their city of preference with the LP ‘Elevate’ by 30/70.
A collective more so than a band, the group’s eleven members are unified by the vocal acrobatics of singer Allysha Joy whose husky vernacular of speedy phrasing alternated with clear falsetto brings to mind Hiatus Kaiyote front-woman Nai Palm. Opener, ‘Slangin’’, with its spoken word bridge and weighty groove is ‘Tawk Tomahawk’-era Hiatus, yet the addition of effective backing horns and a closing D’Angelo-style jam takes the track into a territory of its own. This sketch-like quality of ‘Slangin’’s closing moments is echoed in ‘Lucid’ and ‘Get To Me’, gesturing towards the head-nod skits on D’Angelo’s ‘Voodoo’, and providing flashes of the collective’s capacity to flip the mix in the process.
The neo-soul references continue in the jittering funk of ‘Breaking (For This World To Change)’ and balladic closer ‘Takin Me Back’. 30/70 manage to, for the most part, faithfully execute the groove-based signatures of their forebears, though, pulling themselves out of parody and instead into the realm of personal expression, no matter how pre-influenced that expression may be. On the Pacific Jazz of ‘Misrepresented’ and the slow-building movement of ‘Steady Hazin’’, 30/70 do move away from the soul realm but remain in keeping with the rest of the record, owing to the consistency of Joy’s vocals and the rhythm section’s solid foundation.
It can seem at times that ‘Elevate’ plays a little too close to others in the Melbourne scene, finding pleasure in familiarity rather than originality. Then again, the notion of a pure artistic originality is a fraught one, and as 30/70 do not hide their inspirations beneath gimmick, their debut is instead a faithful representation of a burgeoning sound, one with a rich lineage and one that can’t be begrudged for its infectiousness or capacity to influence.
Words: Ammar Kalia
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To purchase 'Elevate' click HERE.
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