Gotye and 9 Lazy 9 | Playful Pop to Acid Jazz

Gotye at the 2012 APRA Awards.

THE WORLD ABOUNDS with wonderful music from artists we never hear. Let me introduce you to the rarely heard tracks from a rising new star named Gotye and the overlooked genius of Italy’s 9 Lazy 9.


In recent months, Belgian/Australian multi-instrumentalist and composer Wally De Backer (a.k.a. Gotye, pronounced “GO-tee-aa”) has exploded upon the world scene with “Somebody That I Used to Know,” in which he delivers vocals reminiscent of early Sting. The song reflects on the breakup of a love affair and how “you can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” With millions of downloads of this song recently, it is safe to say Gotye has captured the imagination of people all over the world.

Yet, with all this attention, few people know about his extensive catalog of music both individually and through his collaboration with the Australian pop trio known as The Basics. Since 2002, Gotye has released three of his own CDs and participated in three more CDs with The Basics. 

In addition to his vast musical talents as a songwriter and performance skills on piano, synthesizer, drums, and guitar, Gotye possesses that rare poise and presence that make audiences fixate on him when he performs. Beyond the star aura, though, Gtye seems to cut each song from a different tree, creating a musical sculpture that stimulates the brain in wonderful ways. The song structures and arrangements vary within the context of creative electronic keyboards, exotic percussion, and slightly reverberated vocals. The listener eagerly anticipates a new adventure with each musical excursion.

The perfect companion piece for “Somebody That I Used to Know” from the same 2011 CD (Smoke and Mirrors) is the comforting “Don’t Worry, We Will Be Watching You.” Next, explore the 2006 CD (Like Drawing Blood), with special attention to “Puzzle with a Piece Missing” and “Seven Hours with a Backseat Driver.” The instrumental “Seven Hours” begins like movie music from the 1940s film Casablanca and then takes various turns with ghostly piano, unusual percussion, electronic and acoustic whistles, clarinets, and accordion-like keyboards. From his 2009 collaborations with The Basics, I recommend “Home Again” and “Keep the Door Open.”

9 Lazy 9

From Italy, the acid/jazz down-tempo instrumental band 9 Lazy 9 offers contemporary sounding, retro-flavored lounge music. They have been recording since 1993, with their best work on Sweet Jones (2003) and Bedsofaland (2010). The first time I heard the 2003 track “Tumbleweed,” I felt thrown back into a Peter Gunn TV episode (aired 1958-61) with its Henry Mancini soundtrack. Enriched by trombones, flutes, bassoon, and tasteful electronic embellishments, 9 Lazy 9 exudes a swanky, sophisticated soft-jazz aura that is very accessible to contemporary ears. One of the founding members of this group is James Braddell, a UK musician and filmmaker who possesses numerous pseudonyms, including Giacomo Braddellini and Funki Porcini.

Another good track from Sweet Jones (2003) is “Grazing Maize.” From the 2010 CD Bedsofaland, your time will be well spent with “Russian Spring” (interplay of subtle guitar and blues keyboard), “Smoke Rings” (upright bass and sparkling keyboards), and “Slow Plus” (soft sax and mellow organ). If this type of instrumental music appeals to you, explore two other complementary jazz bands: Medeski, Martin, & Wood and New Orleans funk/jam band Galactic.    

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