Comprised of four long-time friends James Donald, Adam Halliwell, Kevin McDowell and
Tom Shanahan, the Melbourne, Australia-based quartet Mildlife, largely inspired by the likes of Can and Herbie Hancock, bonded over the desire to push musical boundaries as far as possible. And interestingly enough the quartet developed a reputation locally for completely live improvised live sets based around am incredibly unique retro-futuristic sound that draws from, prog rock free jazz, jazz fusion, 70s and 80s synth funk, house music, dream pop and krautrock, while also nodding at contemporaries like Floating Points, Caribou, Drakkar Nowhere and others.
Although the members of the band will openly say that they’re not they’re not a studio band, they did spend 2014-2015 off from live shows so they could figure out how to accurately replicate their live sound within the studio — without losing its complexity and nuance. “It makes the performance, the composition, more malleable,” says guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Halliwell. Bassist Tom Shanahan adds “It feels more authentic. The energy can be in the song rather than sitting on top of it. We wanted to leave a lot of room for improvisation.”
The Melbourne-based quartet’s full-length debut Phase is slated for release sometime early next year through Research Records and the album’s first official single “The Magnificent Moon” is rooted around a expansive and kaleidoscopic composition featuring layers of tight, arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and a propulsive backbeat that’s roomy enough for some funky jazz-like guitar soloing and a cosmic ray-like synth solo, a trippy bridge and razor sharp hooks — and while being decidedly retro-futuristic, the song reveals the members of the Melbourne-based quartet to be among some of their homeland’s most adept and finest musicians, as they manage to walk the difficult tightrope between a deliberately crafted composition and free-flowing improvisation in a way that’s intriguing.