I still remember the day in the summer of ’08 when a friend from college called me up and said I had to check out a group called “Miami Horror.” That was around the time I began developing the addiction to Aussie electro, from which I still suffer from today- nobody tells you the Bag Raiders are a gateway band. Years passed, seasons changed, dutch house got too popular and finally Miami Horror released their debut LP, Illumination. Appropriately, this album has its roots in bedroom studio sessions dating back not months, but years. For those of us who wondered why we hadn’t heard much more than hit singles like ‘Make you Mine’ and ‘Don’t Be on With Her,’ we now have our answer. From the sound of things, Melbourne’s favorite indie-electro, super-luminaries have been saving up gems for quite a while.
Miami Horror’s founding member, Benjamin Plant, began innovating in the now burgeoning nu-disco genre after losing interest in the repetitious and formulaic production styles dominating club music. Adding three additional members, Miami Horror took on a richer sound, fusing progressive and psychedelic influences into one mellifluous concoction. Their sound took Australia’s disco pop scene by storm. Benjamin’s unyielding emphasis on live instrumentals and experimental synth work gives Miami Horror something that just can’t be said of their Aussie contemporaries like The Presets or Cut Copy.
It’s not often that I discuss the visual components of a given song; seeing sounds is typically reserved for Pharrell and people at Phish concerts. Miami Horror however pays close attention to the kinds of images they conjure. Embedded in every song is the understanding that music can be an experience that transcends the purely sonic. Even the name Miami Horror was chosen for it’s colorful imagery and the mirrored effect created by each words’ repetition of certain letters- a bit like what Shakespeare did with Macbeth and Macduff. Where my English majors at? Anyway, I think you might profit from considering this album as an all around sensory experience.
My favorite song on the album is ‘I Look To You’ featuring Australian singer Kimbra. I have to admit I had never heard of her, but in all honesty, her vocals don’t just make the song, they make the album. Kimbra’s voice is pure sex- breathy, entrancing, delicate. Her voice reminds me of the kind you’d hear on a Thievery Corporation track. This track is to nu-disco as ‘Lebanese Blond’ was to afro-lounge. Instrumentally, it has all the catchy dance energy without all the sample heavy disco house nausea. ‘I Look To You’ sounds like it was made to play in the background of some smoke filled lounge as two strangers meet one another’s gaze through a crowd of dancing patrons. This is a scenario that’s very common for me so it’s good to finally have the soundtrack.
“In the summer sun I can’t reveal. We go on and on…”
‘Summer Sun’ is a prime example of the sort of attention to detail that is ever present in Miami Horror’s productions. There is nothing lazy about this. Having this many instrumental tracks harmonizing with such remarkable subtly is something that it seems fewer and fewer producers have the prowess or attention span to mix anymore. Beneath it all is not only a commitment to crafting a new sound, but a catchy one as well. Try listening to this just once.