Japanese Wallpaper is one part talent and one part super talent. This is the solo work of 17 (or thereabouts) year old, Gab who makes music of unquestionable beauty, maturity and perfect melody. Tonight is the final night of a handful of sold out shows in this great venue and after tonight’s performance, there is no doubt that this multi-instrumentalists is destined for pretty good things. Supported by the equally talented and unique Wintercoats the perfect line up starts with the modestly talented and charming The Townhouses.
Perhaps it’s my slight older age or the fact that I am still not fully settled with the Australian music scene, but I do kick myself that I hadn’t discovered the work of Japanese Wallpaper earlier, perhaps it comes from avoiding the once enjoyable Triple J for my source of new music, but that was many many many moons ago. This is music that biasedly lines at the front of my current preferred genre. Not much in the way of a live “performance”, as I will explain in a moment, but in terms of genre, melody and the art of perfectly constructed dreamy electronic pop music. This was a night of unacquainted youthful talent, from opening act to closing number.
The Townhouses, aka Jeff Lee muddles to the stage with an acoustic guitar while a disco ball slowly spins over the vacant floor before him, not that the room was empty, rather a shy crowd who preferred to perch up on the comfy back seating area. Lee opens his set with a gentle cover of Cat Power, a favourite track of his, played quietly with slight nerves but a nice offer into a sweet and enjoyable set. Soon after his two fellow musicians, there first gig as a trio, take stage and help Lee through some really nice melodies and cleverly crafted alt-pop tunes that had me thinking that Real Estate would be proud to have written. Lee is a talented and perhaps still an undiscovered songwriter who clearly has a record collection in line with what I would listen too. A perfect opening act to lead in the next.
Wintercoats, really needs little introduction but to those not aware, James Wallace is another very talented musician, or rather composer, who singularly creates ethereal soundscapes with a violin, keyboards and vocals together with a barrage of pedal effects. The result is a beautiful journey of melody, rhythm and crescendo sounds that really have to be heard live to be appreciated, how one man can create such emotion right before your eyes is something of sheer beauty. Vocally, Wallace may not be the strongest but his abundant unique talent makes up for it. This is the 4th time I have had the pleasure of seeing Wintercoats play and each time, I appreciate his skill so much more. Following a bit of banter about his love of milk, that he drinks from a carton on stage, he completes yet another set to well-deserved applause.
As the stage is minorly reshuffled to align a table adorned with a tiny Korg keyboard, a few electronic sample bits and bobs, some pedal effects and well-used Macbook, Japanese Wallpaper aka Gab, strolls onto the stage, in black framed glasses, sporting a cap and a preppy boy look. Not what you’d expect from the sound that this lad can create, It is all complete joy especially to watch such a young lad who loves what he does and knows exactly what he is doing…the boy is just 17/18. It baffles me and excites me at the same time.
Japanese Wallpaper creates uplifting electronic pop music that would make the likes of Washed Out, Bent or Hot Chip proud writers to say they had penned. Each song is played with modesty and pride, the sound is mixed perfectly and every track could easily be a single release or a soundtrack the most uplifting and engaging movie.
What gets the biggest rapture tonight, is Breathe, a beautiful song that touches the heart so delicately and then glides effortlessly, soaring through pure bliss. Tonight he is graced with the vocals from Wafia, who also appears on the recording, she is pitch perfect and takes the song to an emotional peak. This is wondrous stuff, just delightful, innocent and touching.
Confirming the youth of Gab, he thanks his mum for being there tonight and selling his CDs, he is proud, honest and unaware just how talented he really is. What gets me thinking is how completely outstanding this would be if he were supported by visuals, perhaps a few live instruments and the acoustics of a beautiful auditorium. Perhaps time will tell but if his management are reading this, we urge you to sort out some production elements and help Japanese Wallpaper saw to the heights he deserves to glide at.
A brilliant night and a reminder that there is so much hope for Australian Music, to think that only a few nights back I had questioned not only live music support but support of local music. Lads, tonight you proved me wrong, thank you.
images by The Wandering Lamb