Well mates, it doesn’t get much better than this, rolling down to Howler on a Sunday for the AV experience that was I’lls “Let Me Just Have One” single launch.
I have been trying to see these kids for ages after a friend played me some tracks a few years ago. At the time they seemed to have a fresh and interesting electronic sound, and although these days every man, his mate and his mate’s dog are getting up on-stage with an effects pad, the brilliance of I’lls’ music remains.
The Howler band room seems totally different; well lit with rows of chairs covering the floor where many a rug has been drunkenly cut. The stage setup highlights the importance of the visuals, the screen centre stage with the band set up on the right side and Wabz spinning tunes on the left hand side. He is cranking out some upbeat, chill electronic dance music which seems to set a lounge kinda vibe. I particularly liked the endearing use of vocal samples like “yo check this out.”
The three I’lls boys come on stage to an attentive crowd. The visuals cause them some grief with a couple of false starts, but it’s all taken in their stride. “Sometimes things don’t work and sometimes they do. This is one of those times” the singer quips. “Fooled ya,” he adds as the I’lls animated logo begins with its dinky synth riff for the third time and is cut off. A full acknowledgment to the awkwardness of the situation.
Once it begins, their set opens with a sunny electronic sound, expertly matched to abstract visuals of changing shapes that play with light and colours. These combinations strike a similar feeling to Len Lye’s video works or the animation experiments of the early abstractionists such as Hans Richter. Although the bass comes in hard after a few minutes, it does not detract from the evocative mood which is something like that of walking around the city at night to the music of Squarepusher.
The set is interestingly dominated by largely instrumental tracks such as “Fifty-Phiphti” which shows off their strong musical talent. Despite fast and heavy drum beats and some serious glitchy moments, I found the overall tone to have a dreamy vibe like Aphex Twin’s ambient works. This sound, as well as the slow moving nostalgic textural visuals, reference vaporware artists such as Mactintosh Plus; aesthetically as well as musically.
As the set continues the visuals utilise figurative slow motion, such as recordings of people dancing, as a base for multi-layered videos that compliment the tracks; the more prominent vocals of Simon Lam. The distant and echoy vocals in “Outright” and “Plans Only Drawn” are Thom York-esque and with more standard musical progressions in these tracks, the similarity to Radiohead is strong.
“Let Me Have Just One” is a beautiful track with dreamy synths, a “15 Step” mathy beat and a female vocal sample that fantastically compliments Lam. Throughout the set, the boys are working hard and are full of movement. Dan Rutman and Hamish Mitchell do the delightfully awkward, instrument-swapping dance, going the longest way around the table possible. It’s pretty fun to witness.
I’lls are truly a breath of fresh air in an electronic soaked music scene. Having released only 3 EPs since 2011 proves their dedication to quality output. So do yourself a favour and stop listening to the rookies pumping pure mediocrity out of their poorly used synthesisers and effects pads – check these mates out!
Hometown: Melbourne, AUS
Latest Album: Fifty – Phiphty / Asakusa EP, Oct 2014
Sounds like: Four Tet, Blank Banshee, Burial, Thom Yorke
Say what? After they had only released one single on soundcloud, they got a call asking them to play Parklife, 2011…ain’t no thang…
Stay classy, Rosa.