Review: Ray Mann @ High Tea ~ Sydney

Fans of his often question whether he writes his songs while having sex. Ray set the record straight at yesterday’s gig, in a hot sticky apartment laden with rugs and pillows…

One A Day: Ray Mann Three – ‘Morena’

So last night, I went to a heaps exclusive, alternate, cultural-experience-of-a-lifetime that just so happened to have a side dish of mouth-watering soul grooves. Known as ‘High Tea’, this event happens a few times a year and promotes live music in the weirdest and wackiest of places. Yesterday’s gig featuring the Sydney-sider with the golden pipes, Ray Mann, was in a hot sticky apartment laden with rugs and pillows. Finding this place hidden within the heart of Surry Hills was no problem, but once inside, it resembled some sort of horror film, like Saw or Panic Room, with graffiti ridden walls quoting, “Serial killers unite,” and “I drowned your kitten,” making for a freaky experience.

The co-ordinators of this event were extremely secretive in the planning of the location; with an email only coming in that afternoon which perfectly epitomises the whole experience – “You can either take the lift or the stairs to level two. There will be an open door onto a landing – swing left across the metal gangway, head around up the small set of stairs behind the bathrooms and look for a big yellow door!” – fucking weird. Once we located the place, having following these very precise directions we found ourselves in an apartment with incredibly eclectic styling, from the gothic candelabras to the multiple pianos both big and small to the strange industrial lighting that mirrored a drugmaking headquarters. Nonetheless, it was great to finally get out of our comfort zone that had suffocated us to mediocre events since the end of school.

When the music finally started, (after some serious tea drinking) we were all transported to a place of bliss and purity brought on by none other than Ray Mann, an Egyptian-born lyricist whose effortless melodic wanderings are simply breathtaking. Even my non-muso friends couldn’t take their eyes off him, as his hands smoothly caressed his guitar, making music that really just made you feel happy about life. In between songs, Ray made passing reference to the inspiration behind one of his tracks called ‘Feels So Good.’ He attributed the title to the kind of relationship where you hook up with someone over and over again that you know you shouldn’t, but somehow can’t help yourself, a universal concern I’m sure!

Ray continued to detail how fans of his often question whether he writes his songs while having sex. The tracks on his self-titled debut album do have some strange erotic characteristics, but I used to just put it down to his smooth falsetto. Ray set the record straight however outlining that the second verse of the song of the day, ‘Morena,’ was actually conceived whilst he was making love. Whether he had a pad and paper handy or if he just scratched it onto the bed stand with his nails is unknown, but the emotional clarity of the lyrics and untainted thread of melody that floats along effortlessly makes the new genre of ‘sex music,’ an undeniable success. As I sat on the floor, using my handheld fan and sipping on tea, I felt for the first time in my life, utterly transfixed by the music filling my ears and its sheer beauty.

At the end of the gig I spoke to Ray Mann and promised him I’d blog on one of his songs, and so here it is. I hope he’s reading this, because musicians deserve to know what a profound effect their music has on it’s listeners. If you need a chill-pill after the end of a long, hard day, Ray Mann Three can best be described as an outright overdose. This will be my last post for a while as I leave on Tuesday on a two month adventure across Asia, so enjoy this last soulful track from me before the summer of impending doom as my bros bombard you with synth-laden shit! See you on the flip side…

By Zac Seidler
Source: One A Day, Sydney

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