On Saturday night I went along to LongPlay for the video launch of Katherine Hymer’s new single ‘In the Sky’. Accompanied by Sydney solo artist Mara and Melbourne duo Astral Skulls, the show was held in a kind of mini-theatre at the back of the bar. The minimal lighting and vases of white flowers strewn with fairy lights provided the perfect setting for Hymer’s haunting music.

© Greg Holland/Supplied

Mara opened the show, staying close to the floor as she alternated between playing the viola and mixing electronic sounds. Her vocals were hauntingly beautiful though sparingly used. I would have liked for her to connect with the audience a little more, as it sometimes felt as though she played in her own studio, and we were intruders spying upon her.

Astral Skulls were up next, exhibiting a small amount of awkwardness in front of the audience that was endearing rather than uncomfortable. The description of Astral Skulls on its Facebook page is “…the solo project of Kurt Eckhardt (with live synths by Kalindy Williams)”, but it didn’t feel as though Williams belonged in parentheses. Her synths were an integral part of the music even if she herself took a definite backseat to Eckhardt. Her backup vocals were hard to hear, but the two worked well as a duo and the music was fun and immensely enjoyable.  

The video for ‘In the Sky’ was shown before Hymer took the stage. The deliberately ethereal beauty of the video would have been over-the-top if not for the occasional violent and jarring images, but I felt that there was a promise of something that was never quite delivered. It was delivered, though, when Hymer played the song live, adding nuances that were not present in the recorded version.

Hymer is currently in a transitional phase from solo artist to band, and it isn’t difficult to imagine her performing on her own. Without taking anything away from the eminently talented musicians that accompanied her, she commanded the stage from behind her keyboard, effortlessly drawing the audience’s attention to herself and keeping it there. Her vocals went from delicately pretty to loudly powerful, as did her playing. I would have liked to have seen more of the nuances that she displayed in the live performance of ‘In the Sky’ in her other songs. I felt that she did her amazing voice a bit of an injustice by not showing us more of what it can do. 

©Greg Holland/Supplied

All three acts can currently be heard on triple j Unearthed.
Katherine Hymer
Astral Skulls