Ships in the Night

Review by Brandon Taylor

Ships in the Night is a bimonthly gig that features music, readings and spoken word pieces from local Perth artists. This, the 13th installment, took place at Northbridge’s Paper Mountain, a second-story gallery and art commune where from an audience seated on floral-print pillows, artists emerged one by one to trade songs, poems and stories on an improvised stage.

Albert Prichard of Shit Narnia opened with a collection of singer-songwriter pieces from his solo project New Nausea. Prichard’s methodical chords and soft, vulnerable lyrics would best be categorised as indie-folk, but to stop at that label would be a shame. There was an unfolding – a forested hum of notions in the music that is at once introspective and relatable. This calm was abruptly cut off when Prichard played an addictively discordant tangle of thoughts written for Shit Narnia.

Announced next by the hilarious and endearingly self-aware MC Alyce Wilson was local writer Ciocio (Zoey) Ola. “I finished my grandmother’s eulogy the morning of her funeral,” Ola started. Tugging on that thread of guilt, Ola unraveled a spoken word piece about the rebel, the co-parent, the sweet little old Polish lady, and the deeply sad and deeply happy person her grandmother was.

Guitarist and member of bands Rag n’ Bone and Hip Priest Axel Carrington delivered a breathless but well-written review of Shit Narnia, also reading one of their new songs “This is How They Kill Us,” and Elizabeth Lewis next read a selection of short, soft poetry about things unashamedly close to her heart.

Hugh Manning of Shit Narnia performed two spoken word pieces, one revealing the exhuming experience of his first (clumsy, stilted) sex escapade, and one scratching at the raw awareness that “I am a child, I am a child, I careen wild between guilt and rage.”

After a brief break, May of Golden String layered soft beats and keys with a loop pedal, a dusky voice and a haunted, caringly-sampled and occasionally 8-bit sing-song carnival of calmly threatening emotions and the real trouble in the world.

Tristan Fiddler, producer of Magnolia’s Late Night Live, came to the mic with a short story. Entitled ‘Please be More Somber,’ the piece explores the life of ex-punk rocker and current corporate drone Evelyn as she makes token resistances to authority that drive her deeper into the anxiety and depression one experiences when dissecting the layers of anti-freedom and mass produced escapism that surround so many aspects of today’s society.

Closing out the night was Patricia Hackett Prize winning short story writer Laurie Steed. Steed read an excerpt, or rather an offshoot, of book-in-progress The Bear. Through the eyes of a 7-year-old, Lionel Richie-loving boy, we watch – in slow motion – the members of a suburban family take alternate stands of solidarity and stubborn selfishness during the course of a painful divorce.

For more information or to catch upcoming bi-monthly shows, check out Ships in the Night on Facebook.