kyü + Pikelet live @ The Old Museum, 29.10.10
I wrote a review of kyü’s recent Brisbane show for The Vine. You can find it here. Here’s the original version: slightly expanded, but not so well-edited.
A rare evening, last Friday. It felt magical.
kyü will be dividing audiences soon enough. They’re female, they’re from Sydney, they’re attracting a whole bunch of attention (i.e. they have the potential to break international), and one imagines that yr standard Aussie music lover has already had their fill of females this year, bloody too right mate. Their music is not too be taken lightly. I can’t imagine it will be.
Hated, yes. But taken lightly? Hmm.
kyü are precious, precocious, pernicious. Scary in their voyages of imagination. They take chances with their music, understand the allure of silence and pull of the old-fashioned stage musical. kyü are unafraid to clamber on stage and beat their breasts (literally) for five minutes, to intersperse Enya-like moments of trauma (uh, mainly to me, for liking such music) and teenage with the odd chime of xylophone or tentatively-played acoustic guitar. They’re nervous, but way confident. They’re young, and this is their great strength although it doesn’t need to remain so (and that’s partly what’s so intoxicating). They’re female, like Kate Bush. They’re percussive – and love me, but they love their percussive moments – like Björk. They have voices, have no doubt of that. No doubt whatsoever. Voices that ring pure and true and solemn and joyous in their teasing harmonies like… well, would you call me too crass if I threw in one more comparison here? Like The Roches. Except of course what is so incredible about Alyx and Freya is that – “We’ve been together for such a long time. A year-and-a-half” (Alyx) – is that they’ve already mapped out their own territory. For the lads among us, imagine Boris or This Heat or second album Slits in a world their own making, where others might call but never stay.
The voice as instrument. The single voice as human choir. The voice, infinite to the infinite number of changes it can make.
The album (it’s great, and made me voyage out to this wonderful, calming space when I’ve barely voyaged out for 12 months thence) is nothing next to this, because it places a marker in the sand, and – right now – the possibilities are limitless for kyü. And that’s terrifying and exhilarating, and will of course probably ultimately do for them.
(“Don’t tour,” comes the mantra. “Don’t tour. Please don’t tour. Don’t tour. Please don’t tour. Don’t tour.” Someone find them some film music to score or a musical to manage or Meltdown headline slot quick, where they can settle into their own space and remain there, freed from monetary encumbrance. There’s no doubt they practice, with the tenacity of a marked second-year college student. But that. Is. Not. Playing. Live.)
Everything is fairy-light and fairie-like: no, not women of peace, just women who are searching for peace, stumbling across magic. There’s awkwardness, and that’s half the endearment. There’s moments where you don’t know whether you feel more embarrassed for themselves or for you, but that’s a third of the charm. ‘Koi’ reminds me of Istanbul, the way I like to be reminded of Istanbul twice a week. ‘Trax’ has me reaching for my Kate Bush overdose tablets just when I’m arguing with Pikelet by the merch stall that I can’t hear no Kate Bush here, no not never. ‘Pixiphony’ is tumult and noise and a reason to remain, right there. There are moments of stunning beauty (that’ll be The Roches comparison, for anyone keeping a score), and that’s three-fifths of the magic. There’s not much idle banter. There’s no need for a call to silence. There is plenty of joy, though. We know these moments are precious to us and us alone. And there’s mystery.
Oh yes. There’s plenty of mystery.
Pikelet played too: and some quietened electronically layered fellow who reminded me of the early 80s and Eyeless In Gaza. And Pikelet was way special. I’ll be wanting to discuss why and how elsewhere, soon: but please forgive me if I just dedicate this one review to one band.
All photography by the lovely Tom Hall.