Audience: 18 and over
Johnston Street, Melbourne
VIC, 3066, Australia.
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Word of mouth got me over to the Tote early tonight, in order to catch the third live show by Nathan Hollywood’s new outfit Romance. His previous musical output was in a dark sparse country vein, marked by a willingness to experiment. While taking a year off from music to study, a chance meeting with a fellow student, Sergei, who has background in dance music, has now led him to this.
The pair stand behind a bank of four synthesizers – two each – with an Apple laptop in between them. The drum beats click in, in that classic harsh ’80s marching rhythm, and we’re away. The music manages to be fairly minimal but still have a grand sweeping feel to it. There’s one effect pedal in occasional use, but the pulse of the sound is pure, not looped or treated. Lyrically, the songs seem to be concerned mainly with dark and slightly obsessive love, but nothing is introduced or explained.
Hollywood looks deliberately stiff and formal in a dark suit and neat hair, and keeps up a reserved demeanor almost to the end, which sees him hammering the keys with both hands spread wide. When it’s over, I find I’m as impressed as I’ve ever been by a new act.
New Order, Depeche Mode, Suicide and even Yello immediately spring to mind. But then Hollywood tells me the pair have been listening to a lot of Grace Jones, and it’s an obvious reference once pointed out. This is intriguing and rewarding music, which should find them a wide audience as they get more shows under their belts.
by Trevor Block