Japanese Wallpaper, the project of Melbourne native Gab Strum, has made major moves in 2016. After his fantastic self-titled EP was released last year, he's played at Laneway and now most recently released a new single 'Cocoon'. In support of the latter, Strum has brought a full band out on a national tour; on Thursday night stopped by a sold out Fat Controller to perform his dreamy melange of electronic pop, with E^ST and Lonelyspeck in tow.
Lonelyspeck's hazy dream pop was a beautiful start to the night, with the small audience that did watch spellbound by the chillout vibes. While E^ST's summery, energetic beats were sandwiched between the more atmospheric stylings of Lonelyspeck and Japanese Wallpaper, she was still able to command and control the crowd with dance floor fillers such as 'Get Money!' and 'The Alley'.
Japanese Wallpaper's set was one of warm bliss, flexing their abilities with transposing electronic music into a live setting. The organic stylings of guitarist Graham Ritchie and drummer Miles Thomas added new dimensions to the predominantly electronic sounds. However, the most integral part of the band was the fresh-faced Gretta Ray, who has recently emerged through Triple J Unearthed. While Ray had been somewhat introverted and almost restrained as a backing vocalist and keyboardist, her moment to shine came when she stepped up to take lead vocal duties. Her takes of 'Breathe In' and 'Forces', from last year's self-titled EP, shone in a new light, with the quartet's musicianship coming to the fore.
The night wasn't without hiccups though – partway through 'Cocoon', the microphones inexplicably stopped working, with Strum and Ray unaware and continuing to sing, before cutting the song short. After a brief intermission (complete with fancy drum work by Thomas), the band returned to the stage, citing an unplugged power socket as the reason behind the chaos. Despite that setback however, Japanese Wallpaper showed why they're a rising force on the Australian music scene; the equation of Strum's immaculate songcraft, combined with the tight live band, being one to watch.
All images by Romana Dew.