AlunaGeorge

Reviewed on Thursday October 3

Like a kind of alluring praying mantis, the gorgeous Aluna Francis emerged through the smoke somehow scantily clad and wearing lots of garments at the same time. Sporting a black corset with “Oh Shit!” written all over it, black transparent fisherman pants and flourishes of jewellery, she immediately confirmed the belief that she does absolutely whatever she wants. AlunaGeorge dropped ‘Attracting Flies’ early, and the palpitating hip hop beat flowed through the venue.

The genesis of the duo’s sound lies in the classic R&B and new jack swing of the ’90s, and they paid homage to their roots with a stellar cover of Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It’. The song, by its nature, demands a real attitude and sass to be pulled off; luckily Francis exudes pure sass from her pores.

‘Lost & Found’ is a mystical, Crash Bandicoot-esque track that utilised the whole band’s potential and filled the room with squelchy, manic beats. Things got real funky and ravey when they played crowd favourites ‘Just A Touch’ and ‘You Know You Like It’, with Francis getting all bashful on stage and telling the audience how she and George Reid felt at home here, thousands of miles away from London. Aww.

The duo bounced off each other in an adorable yin and yang kind of way. Reid was happy to humbly blitz it on his spread of synths and mixers while Francis took charge with the audience, winning us over with her charm and talent and dance moves and effrontery and lack of pretence. She obviously shines but doesn’t hog the limelight, and the two have such great onstage intuition and chemistry with each other. At one point Francis wandered over to Reid’s setup, and they jammed side by side on various synths, reaching around each other and swapping positions before transitioning fluidly into the rousing sing-along ‘Best Be Believing’.

As they’re only one album deep, AlunaGeorge’s set was a snappy 45 minutes, but they closed out so triumphantly it was easy to forgive them. The penultimate song was a less clubby, more sensual cover of their huge collaboration with Disclosure, ‘White Noise’, and they rounded off a killer set with last year’s outstanding single ‘Your Drums, Your Love’.

BY RAF SENEVIRATNE

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AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorge is the product of a chance musical encounter from a few years ago, when George Reid was slated to remix a track by Aluna Francis’s band at the time, Toys Like Me.

The two started hanging out and began making music with a real identity, one that threw back to the golden years of R&B whilst simultaneously pushing the boundaries of contemporary electronica. After dropping their You Know You Like It EP mid-last year, the duo became blogosphere sweethearts and are now quickly tracing the footsteps of their UK compatriots Disclosure on the road to global acclaim. With their debut album Body Music out this month and a slot on Fuzzy’s new boutique electronic festival Listen Out, things are happening in a big way for the duo.

George, the production brain behind the project, is stoked with how it’s all come together. “It’s taken a little bit longer to cross the T’s and dot the I’s but I’m really happy with how the album’s turned out. I can’t wait for people to hear the new songs.” He’s the quieter, more passive half of the duo – the ‘yin’ to Aluna’s ‘yang’. According to George, their sex-drenched, steamy aesthetic really harks back to their love for old school R&B. “I think you can look back and really appreciate it,” George says of the genre. “I feel like maybe the beauty was lost at the time because of the overriding bravado that came along with a lot of the music… It was all very flash – the money, the women and everything else that would appear in every music video at the time. And I guess it sometimes just puts everything way out of context and makes it impossible to relate to…if you’re most people.”

The duo thrives on the juxtaposition between them – one is a sultry, six-foot, ethnically-ambiguous beauty with a voice that is silken and innocent at once, and the other is a bloke called George who wears lots of hoodies and goes for Manchester United. But his gift for creating seductive, woozy R&B beats that perfectly complement Aluna’s aura is second to none. In a world where everyone’s neighbour seems to be a ‘producer’, we’re prone to a level of oversaturation in electronic music, but AlunaGeorge have created for themselves a sonic palette that is distinctly and definitively their own.

“I produced this album…but it’s a weird notion that all these people with a laptop and some software can call themselves a producer these days. I guess the whole dance world is changing at the moment though, so why not?”

AlunaGeorge’s music videos, press photography and album art have helped them further establish their lush aesthetic. It’s something that George is the first to admit is not his area of expertise, but he’s tuned in enough to understand the importance of style and visuals to an artist’s identity.

“Personally, it’s not my strong point, Aluna’s got a way more informed opinion on the style of things,” he laughs. “With pictures and photographs, it’s annoying, but it is an important thing. It can certainly help to give identity when a track is just getting floated around the internet and someone can put faces or even just an image to the music.”

The versatility of Aluna’s voice and the diversity of George’s production has led them to incredible collaboration opportunities, and while they were adamant on keeping their album a purely AlunaGeorge experience, the prospect of working with other musicians is always in their sights.

“We’ve been so focused on the album, and that’s just the two of us,” he says. “But Aluna’s voice, I mean, it’s so unique. She met Diplo at Glastonbury, and they went to the studio the other weekend and got on well, so I think they might be doing something at some point. I think it’s cool that there are people that are making this forward-thinking electronic music. We didn’t know them before but it’s been really nice to be put in the same bracket as those other people.”

BY RAF SENEVIRATNE

AlunaGeorge plays Listen Out festival at Centennial Park on Saturday September 28. Body Music out now through Universal.

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