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Ocean Alley have been getting some substantial notice with the release of their sophomore EP titled In Purple. The group hearken from the Northern Beaches, and have clearly been touched by the ocean’s bipolarity. Just like the beach, Ocean Alley can be lazy, lapping shores or violent vortices of waves and water.
Before I get talking about the boy’s performance, let us have a little chatette about their sound. It is this kind of Hendrix-coloured fusion of psychedelia and reggae. At one point the band will sink into some sick down-tempo riffage as Baden’s raspy croon flicks up an ethereal sound-storm. And then suddenly, the set will rise up into this beautifully accented crescendo of keys, guitar, bass and drums.
The band’s commitment to the fidelity of the instrument is noteworthy. Every aspect of their kaleidoscopic reggae-rock soundscape is touched with rasp, coarseness and texture. Rather than the artificial fluorescence of the pixel and sample, we get DIY music-magic weaved by the salt-dusted hands of instrumentalists. So listening to In Purple is an exciting affair.
Listening to it live is even better. When I shuffled into The Bald Faced Stag and leaned against a bare but comfortable wall, I thought that I would just repose-and-review for the duration of the gig. But as soon as the boys started deftly dragging their hands over their instruments, I began bumping Marley-style with imaginary beanie and blunt.
Ocean Alley’s live performance is contagiously energetic. They move in tandem and groove in this giddy union that enchants the audience. The shift from harsh, grating crescendo-core to the gossamer whistles and whines of their softer songs had the audience in an epileptic craze and then in a hazy narcosis. Whilst the boys are undoubtedly still in the process of perfecting their live repertoire, it is clear that they are savant performers.