I’d seen Melbourne artist The Great Earthquake quite a few times possibly almost a decade ago, as he was a regular on Melbourne’s live music scene. He stood out primarily due to his amazing musicianship, but also thanks to his ability with a loop pedal, and the fact that he was a one-man band. Looping, guitar drums, piano accordion and glockenspiel together in unique ways you would swear you were standing in front of a fledged band. Audiences would just stand slack jawed and watch as he moved between instruments seamlessly.
Thinking and Making is his third album, and in the intervening years he’s also added vocals to his repertoire. His approach is not polished. It feels live. There’s a rawness, which given his use of loops seems important. His lyrics feel autobiographical, and in the grand tradition of indie pop his maudlin vocals sit back in the mix, partially obscured, with precedence given to his incredible percussion skills in particular.
His music is difficult to define; it’s the work of a magpie. I can hear everything from Pavement to Tortoise to a Hawk and a Hacksaw in it. His drums swing, and combined with an indie guitar, folkish/ reggae elements like the melodica, and occasional subdued washed out vocals, it leaves you, well, wherever he is.
The album’s centrepiece is the eight-minute instrumental ‘The Sound of the City’, which with a driving pulse showcases his incredible percussion skills, yet some melancholic melodica tempers things, pulling away into another direction. It feels like the key to The Great Earthquake’s work, there’s the bombast and a little bit of showmanship, but there’s also an earnest somewhat fragile soul. He even samples his two-year-old daughter in ‘Neko and Noah jam.’
His music is raw and endearing, a ramshackle affair that actually obscures his amazing musicianship. This is what folk music sounds like in 2018.