Mildlife – Rialto Theatre, Brighton – 21st September 2018

Photo by Rhys Baker

Erupting onto the scene earlier this year, Mildlife’s introduction to the world of music heads in-the-know, appeared to happen overnight.

Championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson on Radio 6 Music and Worldwide FM, it wasn’t long until presenters at Brighton’s most loved underground radio station, 1BTN, had caught wind, and were ferociously playing out the tightly locked-in-grooves and ethereal tones of Melbourne’s newest exports.

Performing material for their superb LP Phase, out on Research Records, which is a kaleidoscopic amalgamation of disco, jazz and funk. Laced with a cosmic dose of space-sprinkled electronics and an undertone of pop-sensibility, Mildlife transformed the crowd (made up mostly of Brighton’s music industry elite) into a rumpus dancefloor.

Collectively creating a sound that is impossible to both pigeonhole or even articulately convey, Mildlife’s set had no musical restrictions. Instead, pushing musical boundaries while jumping from an interplanetary blend of soulful instrumentation and individual electronic sublimity, they captivated the crowd into hypnotic awe.

The standout track of the night was an extended improv-jam. An infectiously groove-orientated version of ‘The Magnificent Moon’, the band’s leading single, is a sonic explosion where krautrock meets funk and yields a mangrove of psychedelic arpeggiating synths and looming guitar riffs.

Closing their set with ‘Phase II’ – the quartet’s most recent release – a surreal reimagined sonic journey, joining-the-dots of ‘Phase’ into an 11 minute backstab of soaring synths and prowess that echoes the group’s musicianship maturity. When the music finally came to a close the crowd were still moving, succumbed by otherworldly waves of groove.

Main support on the night came from another 1BTN favourite, Modified Man, a South London-based synth-production electronic duo, with a sound that gives a firm nod to the likes of fellow Brit-funk meets broken-beat revivalist Henry Wu, and with similar geo-song references, such as the tongue-in-cheek titled ‘Croydon Rooftop Café Culture’, a standout track both live and off the new EP Thorns.

Hosted by the mighty 1BTN, a station that has ferociously played and championed Mildlife in Brighton and beyond the past six months, the station founders acted as MC’s on the night, adding a refreshing and human touch, to the sometimes-impersonal process of promoting and hosting a show.

As Midlife left the stage, the Rialto Theatre trailed on, continued and contained the party atmosphere, as legendary local-selectors took the baton and led everyone deeper into the night. Nick the Record, Tru Thoughts head-honcho Robert Luis, and one of Brighton’s finest DJ collectives, Discojuice, endured the ethos until the early hours, spinning an assortment of feet-moving tunes.

I’m not sure if it was the perfect marriage of Mildlife in the fitting space of the Rialto Theatre or the fact that 1BTN had hosted a solid show, conscious of the hand-picked after-party selectors, but I left feeling that the night had created something that had been missing from the left-field Brighton music scene, for some time.

Walking home I was still sucked in, weightless and free-of-worry on a Friday night, I couldn’t keep my feet still. When I finally got in, I poured myself another drink, and pulled my newly purchased (thanks Mr Bongo!) Phase out, I put the needle down on the record and turned the volume to nearly full blast (to much of my neighbour’s annoyance) – and relived the sonic pleasantries all over again through my sound system.

Rhys Baker