Photography: Chris Elder
The wind is whipped, the spirits are stirred and Young Magic have come out to play. Friday nights on Oxford Street are known for involving the unexpected and surreal, and inside Oxford Art Factory on November 21st the surrealism was well seasoned. On the first night of their Australian tour, Young Magic brought international flavours and simmering mysticism to the stage, with Indonesian vocalist Melati Melay and Australian producer Isaac Emmanuel commanding the room with sound that invigorates and visuals to captivate.
The crowd was sparse at OAF, the dark industrial space feeling less its usual grungy self and more downtown loft as the young and magnetic cool crowd sipped red wine under glowing exposed bulbs. Avivva and Phondupe filled the space with soothing electronica as the crowd filtered in, loopy experimental remixes and tracks from their EPs providing a rich backdrop for a Friday night wind-down. Opening for Young Magic was soloist Alex Ward aka Moon Holiday, who with just one girl, a laptop and a looping desk created gorgeous spacescapes of moans and calls to set the tone of the evening. Seeing a female artist producing the beats as well as providing the vocals is always a treasure, and while Ward has had great success collaborating with artists such as Flume and Samaris, she appeared in her element behind the board on her own. Her sound is transportative, and the concrete and steel of OAF was slowly turned into an overgrown grotto as her trickling and twinkling beats filled the muggy air. I enjoyed her style of electronica with natural tones, sounding earthy and grounded rather than metallic or jarring. Her tracks are filled with drips and snaps, even a panpipe or two, and its liquid trippy nature would make it a come-down dream.
Young Magic made their entrance via a projection of slow-mo monastic dances and meditations, swirling robes and painted faces filling the walls as their silhouettes appeared on stage. Two sets of electronic drums, a sampling pad and Melati’s graphic jumpsuit dominated the space, and from the first thudding bassline the audience was hooked. With long jet black hair and a startling stare, Melati was a beautiful banshee giving it her all and absolutely committing to the spectacle of the show. The sound was part assault-with-a-blunt-object, part interplanetary-orgasm as the crash and call of tracks like “Night in the Ocean” shot reverb daggers through the crowd while Melati’s spectral, acheing voice pulled you into a hypnotic sway.
The animalistic syncopation of the performance was absolutely captivating, with Melati twisting through pagan dance moves while Emmanuel ground up on the synth desk. The stage was in constant flowing motion, and the sensation of being submerged in stormy, sublime chaos was only amplified by the ever-changing projections and haunting stage presence of Melati. When the final beat was struck and the ebb and flow of Young Magic’s stuttering waves settled, the blissful crowd drifted rather than walked out the door, dream-state complete.
Young Magic is now touring the rest of the east coast.