If you have ever wondered what it would sound like if Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife) jammed with Claire Boucher (Grimes), Lilt wouldn’t be too far off – an absorbing, seductive, orbit through black space and dub beats, executed with uncanny and gifted styling. With songs that range from low prowling bass to a cosmic drift, Lilt will transport you elsewhere.
Lilt take something dark and electrify it. The Perth duo are well versed in the art of taking staggeringly deep electronica, and bringing it to another planet altogether.
Lilt’s spectral sounds are otherworldly; a term for which they will become synonymous. Not an adjective that is easy to own, especially when that otherworldliness is danceable and deep. It’s electronica with a dark little heart and sharp mind. The lyrics, and their delivery by songstress Louise Penman, are emotionally resonant, articulate, refreshingly honest.
Their latest track Don’t Tell Me, along with its riveting, stark video, exemplify this feeling, making you feel as though your feet are about to lose contact with the ground. Musically, there is a collision. I cannot help but sense a minacious, augural vibe, where the blood-beat raises with the tension of the lyrics. Even though the voice singing them is soft and ephemeral, it’s also torchy and sensuous. Between these elements, present in every song, there is definitely something going on.
Again, we have a band from Perth, and I feel like this explains that. Whatever it is like growing up in Perth, it must imbue the child, the teenager, and the artist they become, with a knack for reading a darkness and making something from it. It is a fascinating parallel that runs between so many of the bands borne of that city. The fact that the city seems to charge the words and sounds of the bands that come from there, says to me that whatever is happening there is on a level of its own. Each band takes something from this reservoir of internal or environment/cultural darkness and mines something electrifying.
Part of the appeal in the warping, radiating supernova contrasted against the angelic voice floating against it, are the flashbacks it affords fans of emo-electronic indie gems such as Massive Attack and Portishead. It is rewarding for a listener when a band hooks in with a force that has been victim to the dust of time. Maybe it’s the refocus on the 90s that fashion and music has taken in the past couple of years, but these sounds – this kind of impassioned and perceptive music and vocals – remind us why these bands likened to were so popular, and why, especially for independent electronica, they are timeless and important.
This is not to say that what Lilt are making, doing and representing is contrived or redundant; it’s not. But if you can bring music alive for a new generation, while interpreting it in your own way, a new way, then that is both astute and incredible. France’s Gesaffelstein has done the same for techno, with tracks that are reminiscent of Aphex Twin or DeadMau5. There’s an indelible mark these acts have left in the electronic musical sphere, and Lilt’s contribution carves that further.
The band exists because of a fateful meeting at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) when Matt (McLean) heard Louise’s vocals and asked if he could add his music. The rest, is history. A landmark gig at Jimmy’s Den, a major venue in Perth, solidified Lilt not only as ear candy, but as a pulsing, arresting live show unto themselves. Take was recorded live and the video has been received very well. It allows for the voice behind the songs to share the strong energy observable by listening and puts it in your eyes. From yearning to the sexual, Louise plays the part to each song’s journey with sincerity and swagger. The addition of Chris Honey came later, bringing more scope and vastness to these far out, planet-hopping soundscapes, with synths, samples and guitars.
One look at any of their social media is enough to make the disbeliever want to take a listen, perhaps more so to those that don’t normally enjoy electronica. Their sound is addictive and their ability to whisk you away somewhere else entirely makes for a compelling argument. To see them live, as hinted at via the footage at Jimmy’s Den and the video for Don’t Tell Me, would be sublime.
Penman would incite the audience to take some cosmic journey with her, using the intimacy of her voice, combined with sexy beats, to take us away. Sometimes I wonder if she’s using these sounds as satellite, to reach some force beyond her, beyond us. The longing in her voice does that to a person. Even when her voice changes to something more clipped, bitter and defensive, you can’t help but feel that you wouldn’t mind going wherever she is going. Matt and Chris, and their doomy-dreamy, sub-sonar, canyon-falling orchestrations, do their part to reel you in.
If the empyrean charm of Take and Don’t Tell Me have you curious, a step backwards into their catalogue with their Swim EP will disarm you even further. Tracks like Swim, Satellite and Popular seem to be favourites, and really help quantify the stunning work that Don’t Tell Me has had to build on. It was a weighty debut for a young band to make, but then, when you’re making music that is a collision of the celestial, the ambient, the dark, the moving, then the reason goes without saying.