This month sees the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) take on the scores of Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved Studio Ghibli films; a jazz takeover at Gasometer; and one of New Zealand’s most exciting electronic exports.

Seven Wonders Compilation Launch
Smith Street record store Plug Seven has played a huge part in expanding the city’s embrace of groove-led music. Its shelves are stocked with rare Japanese disco and boogie, obscure jazz and dusty pressings of African funk, all selected by owner Ari Roze and passed on to listeners by the store’s expert staff, PBS radio hosts Shio Otani and Lloyd Briggs.

Now, through its record label arm, Plug Seven is releasing Seven Wonders, a snapshot compilation of Australia’s groove scene. The track Sweet Water by acclaimed Australian jazz pianist Barney McAll features the whimsical jazz-funk of Japanese keyboardist Hiroshi Sato. The rest of the record features sample-based jazz by Sydney guitarist and producer Godriguez, pure ’70s rhythm and blues by eight-piece Jazz Party, and heavy funk and psychedelia from Melbourne locals Raw Humps.

The launch party will be a full venue takeover of the Gaso, with artists including McAll, rising seven-piece WVR BVBY, Jazz Party, trumpeter-composer Reuben Lewis leading I Hold the Lion's Paw, and Melbourne’s forward-thinking jazz collective 30/70 playing in different rooms throughout the space. Gig of the month.

Seven Wonders launches at Gasometer on February 15. Tickets here.

Opiuo
After this year’s Rainbow Serpent (as we know it) was cancelled due to fire damage, you now have another chance to catch one of the festival’s most beloved acts live: electronic producer Opiuo.

Opiuo (born Oscar Davey-Wraight) grew up in Motueka, a small town at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, where he got a taste for dance music at remote, sometimes illegal, bush doofs surrounded by dense forests, rivers or alpine peaks. At a time when New Zealand’s underground drum and bass scene was reaching its peak, and acts such as Concord Dawn and Shapeshifter were finding mainstream recognition, Davey-Wraight’s music took influence from the playful, funk-indebted sounds of the early 2000’s breaks scene.

The glitch-hop sound he’s become synonymous with is bright and energetic, with heavy bass frequencies, but it carries an organic quality too. Davey-Wraight’s seen success on the festival circuit, but it’s surprising his music hasn’t made more of an impact on the charts here. Just take a look at his set at Red Rocks Music Festival in Denver, in which he performs with a 20-piece orchestra, to see the kind of command he can have. If big, bombastic electronic music is your thing, this is the show for you.

Opiuo plays the Forum on February 14. Tickets here.

Music from the Studio Ghibli films of Hayao Miyazaki
The MSO is bringing in new audiences with performances of iconic film scores of late, from the Harry Potter films, to Casino Royale to the music of Ghostbusters. Now, the orchestra is performing the music of composer Joe Hisashi from the films of celebrated animation director Hayao Miyazaki.

Hisashi’s music is emotive, sweeping and romantic, skirting the edges of sentimentality (like in the score for The Wind Rises, a moving drama about a WWII aeroplane designer). Sometimes it’s bubbly and playful (as in My Neighbour Totoro), at others, it’s filled with tension and danger (when a greedy river spirit consumes a bathhouse’s guests in Spirited Away).

With Studio Ghibli’s catalogue rolling out on Netflix this month, you can binge the films at home then head out to hear the scores live. Hisashi will be there in person to conduct, too.

Music from the Studio Ghibli films of Hayao Miyazaki takes place at the Sidney Myer Bowl on February 29 (sold out) and March 1. Tickets here.

Laneway Festival
Melbourne’s little party that could, St Jerome's Laneway Festival, is all grown up now having graduated from the backstreets of the city to lush parklands across Australia. At the top of the 2020 bill are chart-topping English rock band the 1975, and Charli XCX, who dropped her new album Charli late last year. These are her only Australian shows. Another Laneway exclusive is rapper Earl Sweatshirt.

Local headliners are 2018 Hottest 100 toppers Ocean Alley, Madchester revivers DMA’s, psychedelic rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, rising rapper Kaiit and Stella Donnelly who has been receiving acclaim for her debut album Beware of the Dogs.

There are still tickets left for the Melbourne leg of the festival – if you hurry.

Laneway Festival is at Footscray Park, Footscray on February 8. Tickets here.