By Angela Aris

There is a certain amount of pre-requisite knowledge required to review a DOMi & JD BECK show, knowledge I sadly do not have. The knowledge of trained jazz musicians, positioned at the nexus of ’70s psychedelic rock and old school hip-hop. Instead, I aim to give a snapshot from where I currently stand as singer-in-hibernation, English major, and sonically-oriented person.

I was first drawn to DOMi & JD BECK by their album cover, two humans dressed cutely standing with hands behind their backs in front of a set piece which gives over-the-hills-and-faraway. I have no real knowledge of DOMi and JD as people outside of this album cover, but something about DOMi’s high ponytails and Constars with frilly socks, paired with JD’s cropped jacket strikes me as queer-coded, and immediately I feel like there might be something for me in this music.

Both JD and DOMi are in their early 20s, JD never attended university while DOMi attended the Berklee College of Music; both are extremely talented and proficient on their chosen instruments—DOMi all things keyboards and JD on drums. DOMi and JD’s debut album NOT TiGHT and DOMi’s name use the same naming-convention, a signature lower-case ‘i’ surrounded by capitalised letters. What deep meaning does this hold? DOMi says it started when a Berklee student asked her if there was a more “sophisticated” way to spell her name, and now it’s simply a running joke. This pretty much sums up the duo’s on-stage persona and vibe, they don’t take themselves, or others, too seriously.

DOMi and JD are operating within a genre that is hard to pin down, it reminds me of drummer Yussef Dayes’ collaboration record Welcome to the Hills and other collaborative projects like Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III, which features Ari Lennox, JID, J. Cole and more. There is no denying the duo’s project is heavily inspired by jazz, but this is not necessarily the pervading style of their music. Like a lot of contemporary artists, JD and DOMi are showcasing their musical genealogy in increasingly complex and integrated ways.

DOMi and JD cite their heroes in interviews, from Led Zeppelin to Herbie Hancock. The reverence the pair feel for their favourite pioneering artists is demonstrated on stage; the two played covers of Aphex Twin’s ‘Flim,’ the Weather Report’s ‘Teen Town,’ and ‘Rainbows’ off Madvillainy. (Thanks to the two noisy boys behind me for helping me collate this list.)

The privilege of seeing DOMi & JD BECK live versus listening to their recorded tracks is best described twofold. One: their set is two hours long, meaning the forty-four minute album is played out with longer versions of the songs with many improvised moments; excellent jazz and rock concerts share a spellbinding quality, an ability to take you on a journey unique to that time and place that can’t be quantified. Two: it sounds live. It’s obvious but there really is something about hearing the acoustics of a drum being hit, and seeing the expression on DOMi’s face when she is focusing on her piano, her arms moving out in front of her as if possessed.

My personal favourite songs to hear live were ‘SNiFF’ and ‘WHATUP.’ Post-performance, I had ‘SNiFF’ stuck in my head, specifically the syncopated chorus of drums and keys. The introductory jungle breakbeat had my heart rate elevated from the beginning and JD’s sudden pauses are delightfully surprising. DOMi’s keyboard is playful and has the quality of a mouse running from one end of the kitchen to the other, pausing and ‘sniffing’ before running off again following a scent.

With her right hand, DOMi selects a more traditional piano sound effect for ‘WHATUP,’ while playing an upright bass effect with her left. The melody is melancholic, which is partially why this song was the most emotional experience of the set for me. In terms of maximising emotional affect and suspense, I also think this song was able to take me the highest because of the pair’s suspenseful repetition of drum rhythms and piano melodies, each time introducing some slight variation, with the parts spaced longer and longer apart.

4/5 Pelicans

By Pelican Magazine

Pelican is the second-oldest student publication in Australia and the only independent paper at UWA. If you like having opinions, writing, drawing, and/or free tickets to local events, then Pelican is the place for you! We print six themed issues a year, and run a stream of online content.

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