Naked on the Vague feel like a Melbourne band. Their sensibility, their sound, the evocation of gothic landscapes, their natural fit with other bands in the experimental industrial scene; all these things suggest that NOTV are natives. But no, they hail from and reside in Sydney, which makes their occasional visits all the more enjoyable. Their Saturday night gig at The Workers Club saw them flanked by Fabulous Diamonds, The Blank Realm and Mad Nanna; all proponents in their way of this culture of peripatetic pop, of atonal sounds, and droning monotone vocals.
The Workers Club was overrun, people packed in to observe the erratic path that these musicians might take. Admittedly it was this scribe’s first time seeing NOTV as a four piece. Last time we shared a band room was post Blood Pressure Sessions (2007), when it was just Lucy and Matt creating a dense and rich sound with vocals, guitar, keys and drum machine.
They’ve now expanded to a four piece, with Nic and Lachlan on bass and drums respectively, which adds to and enriches their sound without removing any of its distinctiveness. On stage they are a sight to behold, with hints of The Proposition. Lucy with her long blond waves of hair, tossing her tresses of golden foam as if they also generated sound, and Matt with his severe black preacher’s hat, are still the visual magnets of the band. The presence and extra enrichment of rhythm that bass player Nic and Lachlan on drums provide, continues to conjure the Australian gothic that Naked on the Vague do so well.
They played material from their recent release Heaps of Nothing, along with ‘Clock of 12”s’ off their Twelve Dark Noons EP that stems from an exciting film collaboration with Sacred Bones records and Future Primitive Films.
Naked on the Vague appear to be hitting their stride, touring Europe and America, collaborating in film projects – in short attaining a form of success that most bands aspire to. For a band with such a distinctive sound, it is heartening that they are receiving this sort of recognition; in an industry where sometimes it can feel like bands gain success for all the wrong reasons – such as their look or mass quantities of commercial radio spruiking. But when an unconventional band like NOTV gains a form of success, based on their unique and consistent exploration of music, pushing those boundaries within themselves and others, it can be a reassuring reminder that superficiality does not always reign supreme.
Tracks like the space tunnel droner ‘Treading Water’ with Lucy’s flattened vocal invocations as the axle in the spinning top were notable, and audibly a much richer and fuller sound with the addition of bass and drums.
The crowd was appreciative, dancing and swaying to the funereal organ and guitar distortions with an element of the insuppressible, paying tribute to their Sydney sisters who fit so well in a scene that follows similar lines of interest and insurgence.
– Anaya Latter