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The Community 10th Birthday

MathasThe Bakery
Saturday, June 21, 2014

Local collective The Community celebrated 10 years of “independence through collaboration” over the weekend. The loose group of like-minded DJs, MCs, musicians, producers and visual artists have a lot to celebrate, being a real local success story of how to do it right. Starting as a two person street art project, they’ve grown to encompass over 30 artists all producing boundary pushing, underground music and arts and to celebrate, the crew took over The Bakery for one big party featuring just about all the artists in their roster.

Sibalance warmed up the main room on this cold night, before one of The Community’s founding members, Maxy Bills, delivered a lush set of instrumental magic.

YLEM dished out a heavy set of experimental leftfield electronica as the room began to fill, and had things nicely primed for Mathas to step up around 10.

On the other stage, FG was getting going. He made his rise to prominence in the Perth scene as a rapper, but a focus on the musical aspect of the game has produced some amazing work. Breathy pads and deep, multi-tonal bass lines were built as the perfect foundation for sparkling leads. While many tracks were hemmed with a melancholy edge, there was no absence of funky and soulful moments from one of Perth’s most talented sonic wizards.

Mathas has gone from strength to strength. Forget that infantile bogan shit, this is real Aussie hip hop. His style is fresh and his conscious lyrics cleverly deconstruct modern society with a truly local perspective. Kicking off with Doctorshopping, it was an engaging and entertaining set, Mathas stepping down from the stage to wander around the crowd and deliver his smooth and concise raps. White Sugar is a great tune, and he finished with Nourishment, his breakthrough track about Australia’s lack of cultural food identity.

Wisdom2th is long in the tooth when it comes to the Perth hip hop scene, with some of his earliest hip hop releases appearing on the small label Green & Gold almost a decade ago. Wisdom2th never fails to catch the crowd with his off-kilter imagery into which he always manages to weave elements of intelligent observation and conscious lyricism. I hazard to mention a poorly worded joke in between tracks, which used a nasty concept to generate some cheap and nervous laughter, but hopefully it’s an error he doesn’t feel the need to repeat.

Vishnu played a cracking set of intelligent dub and old school drum ‘n’ bass, and was helped out by an MC.

In the current landscape of Perth’s hip hop scene, almost no event is complete without Empty. One of the masterminds of the vibrant Empty Bars improvisation night at The Moon Cafe, Empty is the complete package, with a sensationally musical production style which he consistently laces with his thoughtful lyrical intentions. This performance not only served to reignite excitement about his relatively long-awaited release Lowlights, but also to give the man the opportunity to fill the stage with his personal and energetic presence.

Setvice were up next with some outrageously cool instrumental music, combining hip hop with a synth-driven and an almost shoegaze style to build something that was hard not to get lost in. Heavy drum breaks drove the music along while subtle vocal samples and heavily processed synth lines painted a masterful collage of sound. Some wicked slap bass added an entirely visceral element to the performance, and all musicians seemed absorbed in the work while they crafted the vibe. A lush, future funk extravaganza with creamy guitar tones? These keys are worth keeping an eye on.

Naik was launching his new 7” as well as debuting his Stellations visual show, which he crowdfunded to bring the impressive concept to life. It’s great to see local fans getting behind an idea like this. Stellations utilises 3D projection mapping, made notable by such artists as Amon Tobin, where projections are cast onto 3D objects, in synch with the music, to create vivid and dynamic imagery. Two big icosahedrons either side of stage, like giant 20-sided dice, were lit up to great effect. Naik’s live guitar, button mashing, looping and tweaking of sounds was supported by Brody Simpson on drums. The single Solar Temples sounded great, but they finished on older track, Masakela, with its shoegaze guitar and syncopated beats.

The Boost Hero Man is an enigmatic sort of fellow. Decked out in crazy headgear, this masked man unleashed his unique brand of glitchy beats and bass, and sparkling melodies on an unsuspecting crowd.

DJ Silence is another incredibly prolific and active member of Perth’s hip hop scene and on this night the audience were privy to the brand new creations from his fresh, In The Shadows EP. Joined by Perth’s premier MCs and vocalists, Silence has a crispy drum sound that immediately draws comparison to some of the finest classic hip hop known to man. When laced with the altogether lovely tones of the inimitable Odette Mercy, this was nothing short of magic. Off the back of this solid release,  It’s hard to think that Silence has anywhere to go but up, and his time as the go to DJ for many of The Community’s lyricists will now have to be split with a focus on his own bright and rising star.

Diger Rockwell is an underground Perth legend and one of the founders of The Community. His music encompasses all sorts of rare grooves, from deep beats and atmospherics to jungle and more exotic sounds, like on Dharma Drums. Mathas got on the mic to thank Diger for “starting this shit 10 years ago.” There’s so much love, respect and camaraderie between this crew that was shared by the crowd, and there was a great vibe throughout the night.

As the night grew chill and the booze continued to flow, the second stage began to get hot and heavy with the arrival of Yarhkob. Yarhkob proves with energetic glee that he needs lean on no one as his sound speaks, or rather screams, for itself. Drawing on elements of glitch hop, dubstep and trap, his tightly crafted and crunchy basslines wobbled and spun over the cracking drums, forcing bodies into momentum by the sheer weight of sound. Ravers and producers alike from the heavy side of things best take notice.

Up next, providing some big heavy bass sound, was Arms In Motion, who had the crowd throwing themselves around the dancefloor, before a special appearance from Melbourne’s Able8, part of The Community’s extended family. The hip hop beat maker used to be an MC but is now a quality producer. He belted out a solid set of dope beats that had hips shaking and heads nodding, including new cuts Rat Cage and the glitchy Nintendo.

Closing the second stage with a continuation of the throbbing heaviness was Lowaski. It seems logical to assume that his name refers to the undulating sub-100hz blitzkrieg that smashed the floor in every track – this was easily the loosest music of the evening. Displaying a well honed technicality and a squelchy, organic sound, this music would not have been out of place under the stars off a highway near Armadale. While this was a powerful and well considered sound, it at times fell prey to the classic tear-out trope of sounding a little much like high frequency fight music.

A great night all round. This is what the local scene should be all about. Original, like-minded folk who love what they do, putting on a show striving to be different original. Happy birthday boys, and here’s to the next 10 years!

ALFRED GORMAN AND JAMES HANLON

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