Fringe 2016 – PHIA – The Grace Emily Hotel – 4K

By Tom Eckert


Settling into the intimate confines of the Gracy Emily Hotel under the watchful eye of the mother Mary hanging from the wall, PHIA takes the half step up onto stage which is the most removed she’ll be from her audience both physically and figuratively for the whole set.

Hailing from Melbourne but having spent a number of years in Berlin to tour around Europe, PHIA’s music is deeply steeped in the indie traditions and miraculously manages to make lyrics sung in a soft Melbournian accent endearing.

The lyrics themselves carry a certain innocent charm, very direct, earnest, personal and simple they are reminiscent of younger days when we all took everything more earnestly. Delivered in a adroit metso moving easily between chest and head voices (despite the ten hour drive into Adelaide that day.) The melodies, often reminiscent of nursery rhymes make PHIA as a performer easy to relate to.

Don’t for a minute think however that her music is simple. Trained in jazz piano and utilising a loop peddle with great skill as well as a kalimba, she creates a flowing sense of tension and release and deceptively complex harmonies with the great addition of an octave peddle preventing the tendency of loop artists towards treble heavy sounds. Paired with Josh keeping subtle rhythmic figures on guitar the whole set up creates a beautiful and dynamic soundscape.

The one shame of the kalimba however is the intricate movements involved in playing it. This unfortunately forces PHIA to watch her hands at times breaking the hold she otherwise has over the audience whilst singing, beat boxing and percussing loops upon loops.

A delightfully intimate set from a pair of exceptionally capable musicians that tap into the human experience with seeming ease and utilising a number of electronic tools with great elegance.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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