CMC Wednesday @ Smiths, 12 Nov 2014

Obscura Hail, Tom Woodward, Rueben Ingall
by James Kent

As one of only a few electronic artists in Canberra, and the only one I see playing around the traps regularly, Reuben Ingall is a lone wolf, both in the Canberra music scene and on stage. Producing an intriguing mix of shoegazing soundscapes, pensive beats, and experimental electronic glitch guitar, Ingall’s music isn’t for everyone; but sitting there I couldn’t help but be enveloped by the wall of sound coming from the host of electronic toys he had up on stage; one of which I should add, was a hot pink hello kitty themed electric guitar. To my mind at least, Ingall seems to be aiming for the genre of synth looping electronica brought to the edges of mainstream by American bands like the Books, or locally by Sydney producers like Seekae and Stackhat. This is a venture not entirely without success, particularly if you’re listening along on Bandcamp. In person however, I can’t help but feel there’s something missing, whether it’s an extra layer of sound, an accompanying band member, or even just the confidence to make full use of his voice, which is undeniably suited to the genre he calls home.

After a somewhat sombre beginning to the evening, there was a mild sense of auditory whiplash as Tom Woodward took to the stage, bringing his unique brand of swampy white guy roots with him. Rumoured to make his living purely off the back of gigs and busking, Tom is clearly a talented musician, with a dextrously plucky style of guitar and a personal charm that had me hooked from the get go, easily pulling the audience out of their electronica induced funk and into a frame of mind where boot tapping was a compulsory pleasure.

When Obscura Hail first took to the stage, clad from head to toe in black and with a mop of hair that lent him more than a passing resemblance to Cousin Itt of the Adams family, he cut an incongruously gothic figure. And I Say incongruous, because he turned out to sing almost Ben Lee-esque saccharine folk, complete with a love song dedicated to his mum, and, in a final act of mindfuckery, a cover of Kiss Me, by Sixpence None the Richer. Despite the fact that he disappeared behind a curtain of hair barely two songs into his set, Hail was an unexpected pleasure, with a bountiful set list of tracks and a vibe that reminded me strongly of The Shins.

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