Live Review: Otious (30/5/15)

Live Review: Otious (30/5/15)

Alex Capper

One of the most promising acts emerging onto Melbourne’s electronica scene is Otious. The quartet have banded together with the goal of flipping popular music conventions and creating a distinct, individual sound. With their new single ‘All I Know’ gaining considerable traction and hype from indie blogs across the globe, I decided to get down to the group’s EP launch at the beautifully grungy Revolver.

Opening up the evening were self-proclaimed disco queens Senpolo. Combining classic disco hits with some modern funk tunes, Senpolo gives the nostalgic dance genre an exciting and progressive twist. As such, they are earning gigs around town left, right and centre and will be a duo to keep an eye on.

Next up was Cassettes For Kids, moniker for multi-instrumentalist Zak Degenhardt. Bringing his hazy, groovy tech-house to the dance floor, CFK showed an impressive ear for backdoor vocal samples, key changes and rhythmical timing. CFK’s set was only made more impressive by the fact that it was performed completely live thanks to a sample pad and a Roland TR-8 drum machine. If none of that convinces you to check him out, the up-and-coming producer’s dance moves and animated bass face are really all anyone needs to be entertained.

Before long, the room had filled out considerably and vibe was at a feverish high for Otious. Wielding a mixture of organic and electronic instrumentation, Otious made a quick impression with an energetic cover of SBTRKT’s ‘New Dorp, New York’In theory, opening up your EP launch with a cover is a risky move, but in practice the booming bass and piercing percussion set Otious into a comfortable groove.

Otious’ EP launch demonstrated their widespread and multi-focused love of various genres and their acute musical ability in harnessing most of these influences concretely.

Arriving at their own material, Otious took the crowd off the beaten track with a demonstration of all their stylistic qualities. With a fusion of electronica, hip-hop and neo-soul, Otious defy being pigeonholed in any one genre and strive to mix and mash sounds in an effort to form their own.

When bands strive for such a sound, reflecting a smorgasbord of influences, it’s either wonderfully unique or it falters with a lack of direction and consistency. In what was their first official launch, Otious wavered between the two.

It’s clear that Otious are still discovering their musical identity and honing their song writing skills. There are moments when their neo-soul is lush and charming, but there are also points where the songs meander and the synthesisers wash each other out. Showing affection for multiple genres of music works best when these affections are consistently balanced; Otious, in their incorporation of so many different sounds, seem to still be figuring out how best to display all their influences.

For instance, in one of the first songs of the set, wordsmith Alan Jin manifested Otious’ hip-hop edge, rapping an intricate verse over a subtle electronic beat. However, this display only appeared to be a brief fling as the group moved on to more neo-electro-soul and left us wondering if hip-hop will continue to play a role in their future discography.

Nonetheless, Otious displayed an extensive range of instrumentation. Few bands implement live production during their set and even fewer do it with the complement of soulful electric guitar and harmonious vocals. While this guitar was nowhere near prominent enough in the live mix, Otious still provided a unique and colourful instrumental palette.

With a short history to their name, Otious preceded their launch with only a handful of gigs and at times their greenness showed in their stage presence. You could sympathise with the group having some nerves after packing out a room (presumably for the first time), but focusing on improving their crowd engagement would contribute a lot to Otious’ rise.

All the same, Otious’ EP launch demonstrated their widespread and multi-focused love of various genres and their acute musical ability in harnessing most of these influences concretely. It’s quite clear that the only way is up for these guys.

Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.