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Live Review: Danny Barwick's 'Flickering' is a powerful debut of his jazz-infused electronica

14 September 2018 | 1:13 pm | Max Lewis

Danny Barwick blends experimental electronic with jazz with 'Flickering', and alongside the self-directed video, it's an stunning debut.

So many kinds of music draw influences from jazz and soul, but I'm hard pressed to think of many examples of blending heavy analogue electronica and jazz. That is, I can't think of any examples where an artist has done it as well as DANNY BARWICK. His debut 'Flickering' is a stunning take on experimental electronica, and the accompanying video might be one of the most fascinating of this year.

Putting an upbringing of soul and jazz to good use, Barwick draws influence from legends like Billie Holiday and Miles Davis, and blends them with the emotional electronica stylings of James Blake and the jazzy hip-hop leanings of King Krule. He's a jazz-trained drummer and pianist, as well as a first class graduate in philosophy, and somehow 'Flickering' manages to pull off this melting pot of influences without a hitch.

At the core of 'Flickering' is a warped but jazzy piano loop, and a garbled vocal sample that bears the titular hook. A pulsing beat runs underneath a sea of analogue synths, while Barwick's vocals remain restrained but emotional. The track crescendos to an explosion of warbling synths that quickly degenerates into a industrial soundscape of noisy samples. 'Flickering' absolutely makes the most of its 3-minute runtime, and it's one of those tracks you have to listen to a few times to really appreciate all the layers at play.

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The video, shot by Patrick Neff and edited by Callum Padgham, complements the track while exploring the theme of "beauty in age and decay". Shot at the Abberfield Aged Care Facility, it depicts an elderly man in extreme closeups that slowly pan out as the track builds. In almost uncomfortable detail we see shots of wrinkles and blemishes, greying hair and yellowing teeth, bloodshot eyes and calloused hands. Closeups on the man's mouth see him mouthing certain lyrics, and as the track slowly reveals more of his face we realise that he's laughing (or perhaps crying, depending on how you see it). It's a truly fascinating video for an enigmatic track, and for both of these to come as Danny Barwick's debut is a marvel.