In terms of the sheer quality of output over the last year, few Australian acts have hit the mark quite as much as the swiftly-emerging duo of Nocturnal Tapes, their run of shimmering electronic cuts impressing right from the get-go.
Debut single ‘Superficial Light’ and its successor ‘Pattern’ announced the Yamba duo’s arrival just last year with sleek, LCD Soundsystem-esque grooves, but it was their final single of 2016, ‘Pieces’, which really pricked the collective ears. Evoking the dark energy and insistent beat of The Presets via the festival-ready melodies of RUFUS, it was a marked evolution in their sound, and a strong finish to their debut year.
When follow-up ‘Is It Too Late’ hit several months back, the answer was “No, and not a moment too soon,” its lush, psych-tinged build-up echoing the smooth production of Miami Horror as it let us in on what was to come on the pair’s debut EP, Visions IV.
The psych influence is turned up to 11 on EP opener ‘All I Need’, resisting the urge to load up with a dance banger right from the start, and giving the record a chance to breathe – to show off exactly why Nocturnal Tapes are just as likely to be heard supporting Tash Sultana or Bootleg Rascal as they are Yahtzel or Luke Million (and they head out on tour with the latter starting tonight).
Nocturnal Tapes first grabbed our attention with a string of impressive 2016 singles
Appropriately-titled second track ‘Wake Up’ brings the tempo up a notch, leaning heavily into ethereal synth as it builds the energy towards the aforementioned centrepiece of ‘Is It Too Late’, weaving just the right amount of pop sensibility among the spaced-out atmospherics, and it’s here most of all that we can clearly picture the crowd gathering around a summer festival stage.
Just as we expect the momentum to build relentlessly throughout the remainder, the boys take a left turn into the stylish ‘Close My Eyes’, at times veering close to a Hot Chip slathered in reverb as the sun comes down on their set, bringing us into the arpeggiated darkness of EP closer ‘All Night’. An unpredictable club banger that dodges and weaves its way through the EP’s final five minutes, it sticks the landing completely.
While Nocturnal Tapes eschewed their impressive early singles when putting their debut record together, even the gloomy brilliance of ‘Pieces’ isn’t missed on Visions IV, its own offerings proving just as satisfying – if not more so.
Australia is undeniably flush with electronic talent, but few would have been expecting one of the best indie-electro records of the year to poke its head out of a small town on NSW’s northern beaches. With Visions IV, that’s exactly what Nocturnal Tapes have dished up – and on debut, no less.
Nocturnal Tapes live dates with Luke Million
Friday September 1
Fat Controller, Adelaide
Saturday September 2
Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Friday September 8
Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
Thursday September 14 *
Lismore Uni Bar, Lismore
Friday September 15
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday September 16
* solo show