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Voltaire Twins

Discerning readers of this review may notice the lack of any mention of opening band Seams, for which I can only offer useless apology. Noticing my bungled entrance to the Rosemount on Friday Carl Fox himself offered a summary in the interest of getting me off Scot-free (“Don’t worry, just say there was a violin …”)

When not encouraging journalistic incompetence, Carl Fox’s interests lie in his unique brand of minimal electronica. Undercut by playful twee sentiments, his dancy, eclectic music is something of a blip on Perth’s musical sonar.

Thematically Carl Fox’s music runs in parallel with many young electronic musicians, but filtered through the prism of Fox’s mind, the work is written and performed with a continuously entertaining idiosyncrasy of judgement. Chunky Rainbow is the best example, a song of fleeting lust (“Enough talking, I wanna go home with you,”) sounding glitchy and catchy whilst staying understated and avoiding getting in your face.

That song and others were performed on a substantial array of different instruments, including a one song DJ set at the conclusion. But despite the eclecticism Carl Fox ran an incredibly tight ship, the band melding electronic and analogue sounds cleanly and seamlessly, particularly with sampled and traditional percussion.

Following Fox were Triple J’s 2010 Unearthed winners Emperors; the newest addition to Perth’s collective consciousness. Their flagship, Favourite Colours, is the perfect example of the grungy five-piece’s mastering of catchy rock.

Sounding upbeat and peeled back, with arrangements more or less as you would expect them, the band relies primarily on relatively simple hooks and riffs to grab attention. They are loud and fast, and tick all the boxes in terms of playing traditional rock. But while succeeding at these surface goals, one can’t help but be caught by their familiar take on the genre. It’s not that the power chords and their generic arrangements are bad per se, but at best their sound is a slightly better example of music that can easily be found elsewhere in Perth and beyond.

For fans of the genre that criticism might be a little reductive; regardless of originality there’s still a lot to like in their songs both musically and lyrically. You can side with Richard Kingsmill (who recently unreservedly embraced them,) or me, regardless Emperors are still very much worth a look.

Which brings us to the headliners Voltaire Twins, and the launch of their self-titled EP. Playing a collection of old and new, the show marked a return to the gig circuit for the duo.

The new material sounds much like the old, which comes as little surprise. The twins have already had quite decent success with their music, and it makes sense they should try to expand on the talent produced in those earlier songs. Electronic dance is what the twins know best, and they never stray far from it.

Girl/boy vocal harmonies, the arpeggiator, hand claps, and the rest are back, and probably at their strongest in Cabin Fever. While perhaps not as heavy, Light Fears continues in the same fast-paced, dance-floor orientated direction, and so does Knives, albeit at a more somber level.

While these new songs are certainly better than most of Perth’s tiny electronic dance offerings, they don’t seem to eclipse their older work, especially the popular single D.I.L. If Voltaire Twins have anything like an aesthetic, it’s there. But certainly they’re an undervalued band, possibly because of their new-rave leanings, or simply because people still haven’t heard enough about them. Luckily you’ve got Faster Louder for that.

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