Nonsemble inhabit a space between contemporary classical and adventurous pop music, resulting in a diverse output that ranges from sprawling and evocative modern compositions to meticulously crafted chamber-pop. Since forming in 2012, they’ve released two critically acclaimed albums and an EP, played alongside Sigur Ros and Beck at Harvest Festival, were invited to play and talk at TEDxBrisbane, and have toured across Australia, featuring performances at Tasmania’s MONA and Brisbane’s GoMA.
A septet consisting of piano, string quartet, drums and guitar (plus the occasional blast of electronics), the group’s musical backgrounds are as varied as their output: classically trained instrumentalists and seasoned rock players whose musical interests range from obscure electronica and instrumental math-rock to early baroque music. This unique setup and blend of influences provides for a wide palette of sounds. Olafur Arnalds-esque lushness meets Joanna Newsom jubilance, while the shimmering brightness of minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and John Adams rubs shoulders with the intensity of Godspeed You Black Emperor or 65daysofstatic. Nonsemble have a penchant for the rhythmically complex, but theirs is a music where the heart always wins—often in spite of heavy doses of heady conceptualism.
Over two albums and an EP, they’ve earned a reputation for meticulously unified, yet viscerally compelling long-form work. Debut LP “Practical Mechanics”, released on lofly records in 2012, distilled mid-century techno-optimism into a large-scale composition across 5 intricate movements. Their sophomore “Go Seigen vs. Fujisawa Kuranosuke” was released in 2015 on London-based label bigo & twigetti—a 30-minute work constructed from patterns of moves from a 1953 game of Go, the album was hailed as “a monumental contemporary classic” by CutCommon. 2016’s Spaceship Earth EP, also on bigo & twigetti, saw the group take a side-step into the pop-song format, with a set of five songs inspired by the failed modernism of the 20th century. Boasting guest vocals from prominent voices in Australia’s indie rock scene, the EP was described as “some of the most immediate and inviting indie-pop I’ve heard this year” by 4ZZZ’s Chris Cobcroft.
Continuing their lithe balance between musical worlds, this year will see the group premiere a new large-scale work in a headline show at Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art, while an EP of their much-loved cover versions is just around the corner, featuring re-imaginings of works by Radiohead, Talk Talk and Sufjan Stevens.