A Sound Which Never Existed Electronic journeys with Albrecht La’Brooy

Text: Drew Rooke

“From the beginning,” says Alex Albrecht, “we’ve always tried to stay away from a particular sound which already existed. We never wanted to just take the Berlin sound or the Detroit sound and do it in Australia. Of course, those sounds and others have influenced us but we have always been more interested in creating our own sound that is different and unique.”

Sean La’Brooy and Alex Albrecht playing at Swell. Photography by Aimee Harris.

Albrecht is one half of the Melbourne-based duo, Albrecht La’Brooy. Over the past three years, he and musical partner Sean La’Brooy have been slow-cooking their Australian-flavoured hybrid of techno, house, ambient, experimental and jazz. Made mostly with keyboards and midi machines, as well as original field recordings, their music is deep and dreamy, emotional and energetic, and has earned them a reputation in Australia’s electronic music community as one of the finest and most innovative acts to emerge in recent years. With an upcoming tour of Japan, they are also now finding themselves a significant international following to match.

While some artists and musicians lament Australia’s isolation from the so-called ‘cultural capitals of the world’, Albrecht and La’Brooy have used it to their advantage to create their own, trademark sound. “In Australia there isn’t that long history of electronic music that other places in Europe or America have,” Albrecht says. “We’re lucky, in a way, because we have a fresh slate and can explore lots of different directions.”


Had it not been for chance, 27-year-old Alex Albrecht and 26-year-old Sean La’Brooy may never have met. In 2012, Albrecht, then a budding DJ and electronic producer, rang the music department at Monash University seeking formal tuition from the head of jazz and piano. The department, after notifying him of the tuition fees, suggested a more affordable tutor: La’Brooy, then a highly talented jazz student who had recently completed placements in Italy and at New York University.

“I called Sean up and he happily took me on,” Albrecht remembers. “Funnily enough, I started exposing him to a lot of electronic music and production techniques and, after a while, I was teaching him at the same time he was teaching me.”

The two began jamming together and after just a few sessions had discovered the beginnings of their sound as well as the fact that they shared a powerful musical bond. “It’s been a weird thing with us,” Albrecht says. “From when we started playing together, it felt like we were in tune, as if we were both able to pick up on what the other was doing and also what the other was going to do next.”

The duo gradually progressed from jamming to performing live around Melbourne. ‘Analogue Attic’ was the first regular party they arranged, named after the small upstairs room within an inner-city venue it was held in. This went on to become the name of the independent record label they founded shortly afterwards in 2014.

From the beginning, the label, which is an entirely local affair featuring only Australian musicians, has had a very gentle sound distinct from many other dance music labels in Australia and overseas. As Albrecht explains: “Analogue Attic, as part of its vision, is to be the sort of label which releases music which can be listened to either at home or in a club; music that finds the middle ground between the two very different listening environments of a living room and a dance floor.”

And while he wasn’t initially aware of it, Albrecht now believes the gentleness inherent to he and La’Brooy’s music – and the overall sound of Analogue Attic – is reflective of their respective personalities and approach to life. “Our music, as well as the music of other artists on our label, provides an escape to a positive place. It isn’t angry or intense. We want people to listen to it and feel good, feel relaxed.”


De’Brooy (left) and Albrecht (right) rehearsing. Photography by Zandra Eller.


The duo also aspire to inject a deeper level of meaning into their music, despite it having no lyrical component. In doing this, they are heavily influenced by Terre Thaemlitz, a transgender essayist, DJ and electronic music producer from the United States who explores issues of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and class in zir house and ambient productions – many of which are released under the alias, DJ Sprinkles.

Considered a pioneer of “political ambient” music, Thaemlitz inspires Albrecht and La’Brooy conceptually rather than in the subject matter or styles they explore. As Albrecht explains: “There is so much depth in Terre’s music, from it being a political statement, to a gender statement, to its listenability, to the concept within the releases themselves, and how they relate historically to other genres and eras. We thought, ‘Why not try to bring some of that depth and conceptual foundation to our music – but in a way that is relevant to us? What do we find important?’”

The result is a series of EPs which explore the many different features of contemporary Australian life and identity. In a way, they are sonic short stories whereas much of Thaemlitz’s releases are political essays in musical form. Albrecht La’Brooy lead listeners on long journeys – around the beachside Melbourne suburb of St Kilda in the case of ‘Edgewater Towers’ or around inner Melbourne on a night out in the case of ‘Eventide’ – with each track acting like a different chapter, revealing different local characters, moods and dialogue. “We have always wanted to release EPs that people can listen to from beginning to end, and that have linkages and a cohesive narrative,” Albrecht explains.

Albrecht La’Brooy’s debut EP, Good Morning Passengers, remains one of their finest. It explores themes of multiculturalism, gentrification, and the urban/natural divide as it chronicles life along the 42km Belgrave train line which runs from Melbourne’s CBD to the Dandenong Ranges..

After travelling through the diverse urban environments along the Belgrave line, listeners are suddenly dropped off in the tranquil Sherbrooke Forest with its whip birds and cockatoos. “At the time we recorded [Good Morning Passengers], I was living in Richmond and Sean was visiting Tecoma, which is in the Sherbrooke forest. We’d be taking the trains backwards and forwards and we both realised just how much diversity there is in the areas it passes through. We thought, ‘Why not take the field recorder out for a day and make an EP which celebrates all the different life along the train line?’”

In early September, the duo will release Escape Velocity through Voyage Recordings, another independent record label from Melbourne. Recorded in one single take, it sees them depart briefly from the Australian aesthetic of Analogue Attic, taking listeners on a different type of journey – through space. “We wanted to create the journey of taking off from earth into space,” Albrecht explains. “So we kept everything in the same key, building tempo from launch to being in orbit. Obviously we couldn’t use original field recordings but we have used a lot of samples from movies like Alien, Blade Runner and 2001 to build the mood.”

But while their productions may be intricately crafted, Albrecht La’Brooy’s live performance is always completely improvised and rarely features recognisable melodies – a legacy of both Albrecht’s and La’Brooy’s background in jazz. For the duo, the risk this presents is part of the pleasure – both for them as performers and their audience. “We are always able to respond creatively to any mood or venue,” Albrecht says, “and listeners are getting something new and different every single time they see us.”


Albrecht La’Brooy play Sunday 3rd September, 3pm-11pm at the Portugal Madeira Club, 1-3 Denby St, Marrickville. Tickets are $25 through Resident AdvisorListen to The Sherbrooke here.



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