Oscar + Martin (SYNapproved) – Workers Club, 12th of May

Experimental pop duo Oscar + Martin played to an eager crowd of punters at the packed out Workers Club in this month’s SYNapproved gig, supported by two of Melbourne’s coolest experimental electro/hip-hop acts, Wooshie and Brothers Hand Mirror. Hats off to Oscar, who not only played in the headlining act of the night, but represented one half of Brothers Hand Mirror as well. The duo represented some of the best aspects of rap; a quirky but intense rapper-frontman, Grant Gronewold, combined with a masterful DJ, Oscar, who was able to provide the perfect backing tracks using a sole sampler and the occasional backing vocals. The final impromptu song didn’t fail to impress; while they joked about not being professional singers, their harmonies blended perfectly and Oscar managed to beat box, hum, click and slap all at the same time, to create a truly complex accompaniment to Grant’s spoken words.  You have two types of DJs; ones who play to please the crowd, and ones who please the crowd by playing what comes naturally to them. Wooshie is definitely of the latter. He was completely absorbed in his own world of atmospheric beats and weird and wonderful sounds, oblivious to his surroundings. His music conjured up images of underworld civilizations, and animated my limbs in ways I didn’t expect. He looked up from his sampler only once during the set that I saw, almost as if to check if the crowd was still there. With music like that though, the crowd only built during his performance. It was electronica in its purest form. The eventual turnout was impressive for such a cold and miserable night and there was a sense of anticipation from the crowd when Oscar + Martin finally entered. I contribute this anticipation to their recently released debut album, For You, a truly original take on experimental pop. Their set was an eclectic mix of soft vocals, unusual beats and instrumentation that was designed to mimic a sampler. The songs were somehow really simple and complex; minimalist but full. The crowd approved. During a soft outro a group of talkers got excessively hushed by the rest of the crowd, showing just how dearly the majority was enjoying the set. The lifting in pace of some songs (such as my personal favourite, ‘Do The Right Thing’) really got the crowd moving and grooving to the beat. It was really good to see these three bands really pushing the boundaries of their respective genres. The sounds were different, but a good kind of different. Is this the sound of the future? To find out, I will keep listening. – Andy Szollosi

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