Adelaide’s sounds from around the world

Two South Australian acts, Alexander Flood and Sons Of Zöku, stood right alongside the top international artists at this year’s WOMADelaide with their own unique and genre-challenging fusion of ethnic influences.

Mar 14, 2023, updated Mar 14, 2023
Psychedelic rock group Sons Of Zöku performed at the Frome Road Pavilion on Sunday at WOMADelaide. Photo: Michael Selge

Psychedelic rock group Sons Of Zöku performed at the Frome Road Pavilion on Sunday at WOMADelaide. Photo: Michael Selge

Alexander Flood’s music is a combination of electronic sounds and rhythms from North and West Africa, India, the Middle East, and South-East Asia, which together create an exciting and dynamic listening experience. Amid the fluffy remnants of the previous night’s aerial feather show by Gratte Ciel, Flood took to the Zoo Stage in Botanic Park on Saturday afternoon with his engaging four-piece band.

A gentle reminder that WOMADelaide is a festival about music and dance and their ancient relationship to each other gives the audience all the impetus it needs to join the two together alongside the band’s infectious groove.

As the first song kicks in, the seated crowd immediately jumps to its feet to dance to a beat that is almost primal in its drive.

Not only has Flood grown up in Adelaide, graduating from the Elder Conservatorium of Music in jazz in 2017, but his band also features talented Adelaide musicians Jack Strempel on keys, Dylan Paul on bass, Tom Noonan on flute, and Fabian Hevia on congas and percussion.

Alexander Flood performed at WOMADelaide with a four-piece band. Photo: John Hemmings

Flood invites a special guest to join them, Iranian musician Maryam Rahmani. She brings the sound of the Persian Santur, a 118-stringed instrument that is hammered by two mallets to create a twangy, harp-like sound. Flood’s blend of influences alongside Rahmani’s Iranian flavour is perfectly balanced and creates a new experience for listeners. With experimentation like this, he is set to become one of Adelaide’s more unique and valuable musical exports.

The balance across the band is excellent, with Flood, Paul and Hevia creating a soundscape of percussive tones and rhythms, Strempel adding electronic effects and synths, with Noonan’s flute sitting on top of everything as it cuts through the heavier percussion. Flood’s blue and green drum kit is almost as striking as his music. Despite the electronic sounds and synths being present throughout, make no mistake that percussion and rhythm lead this music first and foremost.

A haze wafts across the stage during Sons Of Zöku’s Womad show. Photo: Michael Selge

Similarly, psychedelic rock group Sons Of Zöku ­– who performed at the Frome Road Pavilion on Sunday evening ­– use a wide range of percussion sounds to create their trance-like music; however, the musicians do not rely heavily on electronics. It is hard to count the numerous acoustic percussion instruments on the stage, ranging from hand bells and tambourines to shakers made from tree nuts.

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There is a haze that aptly wafts across the stage, allowing the stage lights to form shapes while the crowd eases into Sons Of Zöku’s psychedelic soundtrack. The repetitive ideas create a perfect atmosphere for audience members to get lost in dancing. There is a slow build to this music that makes the heavier climaxes of the songs feel well-earned and gratifying.

The six-piece band use vocals, guitar, drums, congas, keys, bass guitar and the sitar to forge their one-of-a-kind sound. Additionally, they invite Indian tabla player Lovepreet Singh to participate in the set. The Indian sounds of the sitar and of Singh’s tabla create trance-like layers that sound almost as if they are twisting and spiralling.

These artists are unafraid of exploring multiple genres and musical ideas to create new and exciting sounds that are right at home on the WOMADelaide stages.

Alexander Flood and Sons Of Zöku performed as part of the WOMADelaide festival over the long weekend in Botanic Park.

Shannon Pearce is the third recipient of the Helpmann Academy InReview Mentorship. She is working with experienced writers Graham Strahle and Samela Harris to write a series of articles for publication in InReview.

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