Steve Gunn, Angie @ The Basement, Sydney 6th July, 2017
Hypnotic music can take many forms, it can be ambient and soothing, heavy and droning or purely fuelled by repetition. Steve Gunn sits right at the nexus of all of these and he took The Basement audience on a varied and dextrous musical journey.
Up first, Angie (Circle Pit, Straight Arrows) entranced the sparse but attentive crowd with songs from her current solo album Shyness. With just a Roland piano and her melancholic voice she built songs that wove in and out of moody melodies and quietly insistent chords. It was quite ethereal stuff that found a fine balance between a low-key meandering aesthetic and a unique and complete style.
Steve Gunn unassumingly moved about the stage, setting up his acoustic guitars and minimal pedals before giving the thumbs up, quietly greeting the room and easing into Old Strange from his 2013 album Time Off. It was like gently opening a door to another world. Slightly mystical, pastoral and calming like a plaintiff dreamscape. Lilting acoustic notes gently cascaded in small flurries, Gunn’s fingers always in perpetual motion.
Wildwood and the title track of the album Way Out Weather showcased his more traditional folk playing while from his most recent record we were treated to Ancient Jules, Night Wander and Park Bench Smile – songs that took on psych and drone elements with occasional effects that added another dimension to the music.
There were exquisite moments aplenty and a number of segues between songs that were impressively subtle and seamless, generating wide eyed ripples of applause as the audience cottoned on that they were now immersed in a new song.
Gunn’s voice is now a key part of his sound, it has been for a few albums but it rarely deviates from the same honeyed tone, peppering short phrases and thoughts throughout his mind expanding instrumental excursions. The audience response between songs was reverential and enthusiastic and though Gunn had little in the way of stage banter or stories, it didn’t matter all. The exceptional music and consummate playing alone was a transportive experience.