Katalyst – Live review @ Melt, Sydney.

The Sydney “listening party” was one of the intimate Katalyst gigs showcasing the new album “What’s Happening”. Comfortably busy, all kinds and types occupied the single-level at Melt in Kings Cross. Katalyst appeared with Leeroy Brown on decks and Stu Hunter on keyboards. They had just gone on and were settling in when I arrived, dropping cuts live but suffering through minor technical problems. The feedback on the mics and some juddery delivery of electronically-mediated mixes was rather annoying for Katalyst and us.

Accompanying MC’s included Ru C.L. who showcased some of his own new album later in the evening, produced by Katalyst. Xela from Good Buddha, and a mask-wearing Hau from Koolism represented. Steve Spacek was vocally, soulfully and charismatically present. This guy’s voice and stage presence is an essential checkout, as you may already have heard. These four vocal providers at this Sydney night successfully complemented each other when they all appeared on stage together, at the end of the set. This was about appreciation, collaboration and mixing up a variety of styles harmoniously – the essence of the new album.

The crowd received this crew slightly strangely in my opinion, with reserved love until the (technically challenged) mics were turned off. It being a Thursday night, the departing of the punters by around 11.45pm (corresponding with the end of Katalyst’s set) was not unexpected. I was surprised, for such a small gig (virtually a preview before the bigger tour in November), that they were not more openly appreciative people there. It’s difficult to know how much of this was due to the minor technical interruptions, although the Brisbane night had worse trouble I hear, but went-off anyway.

I have heard criticism of the new album. Having not been familiar with Katalyst until relatively recently, I may be wrong, but it seems obvious that such an eclectic producer would conceivably and comfortably pursue this more vocally-based, political style, mixing hip hop, funk, dark breaks and effected keyboards. The style is obvious from the first album Manipulating Agent. He has credentials that include the Invada Records label with Geoff Barrow from Portishead, appearing on the‘Café Del Mar’ series, and producing Ugly Duckling through to Australia & Jamaica’s Ru C.L. Eclectic, non? Don’t be surprised with the new album, for me, it’s great it doesn’t sound the same. That would just be boring.