$12, East Brunswick Club
Karl E. Scullin, aka Kes, is an intriguing individual. Elfin in stature, almost androgynous in appearance, stiflingly diffident in manner, the songwriter, composer and photographer is a man of many talents nonetheless. In a career that started as part of Melbourne’s underground rock royalty Bird Blobs, Scullin’s creative output has ranged from the wonky, outsider-folk of early solo records They Jelly’s in the Pot (2005) and The Grey Goose Wing (2007) to the rich, melodic expansions of Kes Band (2008) and the arcane instrumental excursions of last year’s Kes Band II. Then there’s his various photographic endeavours, including an impressive exhibition earlier this year with Lauren Bamford. Having whittled his Kes Band down to a trio, Scullin kicks off the warmer months with the launch his fifth record – the aptly named Kes Trio (Mistletone/Inertia) – at the East Brunswick Club, in what should only add to this multifaceted artist’s already formidable live reputation.
$20, Melbourne Festival
There are few bands in recent memory that have pushed music’s peripheries quite far as cult Osaka collective Boredoms. Legends of the Japanese noise community, the group’s unyielding experimentation and cacophonous, outwardly hilarious sonic attacks turned the often dour world of experimental music on its head throughout the 80s and 90s, capturing the attention of everyone from New York avant-garde figurehead John Zorn to Sonic Youth. But it’s Boredoms’ more recent work that has attracted them the most acclaim. Indeed, the psychedelic inflections and waves of electronics that began to subsume their work in the late 90s saw 1998 record Super Ae (1998) hailed as one of the most groundbreaking and iconoclastic albums of the decade. But it has been their legendarily unhinged live shows – which have recently seen them working to develop contact microphones that record sounds made by the human body while dancing – that have truly set them apart. Playing alongside Kes Band and Bum Creek, their show as part of the Melbourne Festival will be the most inimitable of the season.
$20, Melbourne Festival
Hip-hop poet and former battle-rapper Sage Francis has been unleashing squalls of hyper-intellectual, intensely political verbiage on unsuspecting crowds for over a decade now. In an age where most mainstream incarnations of hip-hop have all but drowned in their own musical and social indifference, Francis has risen to become one of hip-hop’s principal voices of dissent, making a name as one of music’s most fearsome minds. In the process, the US provocateur has actively dissected the tropes of politics, sexuality, war, corporatism, mental illness and, in the case of largely acoustic new album Li(f)e, religion. Featuring supports of the ilk of Avalanches co-founder and legendary Melbourne turntablist Dexter and up-and-coming Sydney duo Horrorshow, his Melbourne Festival performance will be one for both bleeding hearts and active minds.
October 23 and 24
$38, Northcote Social Club
You could be forgiven for the making the assertion that the singer-songwriter archetype is all but void in the year 2010. The role of the guitar-playing troubadour has echoed throughout the generations, with decreasing originality and relevance in several of the more recent cases. The same can’t be said about Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn. One of the American Pacific Northwest’s finest talents, the indie-folk songstress – who goes under the simpler abbreviation of Mirah – has made a name as one of the 00s most prolific and prodigiously talented songwriters. Indeed, her unabashedly personal, lo-fi, but outwardly sophisticated song-craft has seen her release five albums and innumerable EPs, garnering fans not just across America, but Europe and Australia. Her pair of Northcote Social Club shows will leave all with a spring in their step.
Mouse on Mars
$35, Corner Hotel
Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner are musical chameleons. Since forming in Dusseldorf in 1993, the duo’s beguiling negotiations of the post-techno landscape have visited the far reaches of experimental electronica, post-rock, pop and ambience (often all at once), dropping a swathe of critically acclaimed albums in the process. Perhaps the duo’s defining trait is their versatility. In an era when electronic music was characterised by the often-inaccessible aesthetics and harsh experimentalism of British IDM artists like Autechre and The Black Dog, Mouse on Mars’s musical output flourished with joyous splashes of colour, noise and melody, paving the way for a whole new generation of indie-electronica artists. This master-class in sonic hybridisation is not to be missed.