CODA are pretty cool. Their tunes are catchy, despite there being no vocalist in the band. A fusion of orchestral strings, synthetic sounds and bass with the raddest xylophone player on the block and a wicked percussionist, their music seems like the soundtrack to an alternate reality, without being so ‘out there’ that it excludes the listener from the experience.
This was the second time I saw CODA live, the first time was at the Great Escape festival over Easter. Both shows were equally enjoyable, but I especially loved the lavish stage decorations at the Enmore gig. Rainbow glowing jellyfish were suspended from the rafters and large translucent banners bearing abstract drawings of ocean life filled the stage. And CODA themselves are always a visual spectacle, especially frontwoman Naomi Radam who is always decked out with a kooky hairstyle or zany hat and an outfit to match. Tonight she had bouffant red pigtails with a white and backless dress, that seemed to be made of many pockets, with space boots. At the Great Escape she was donning a large orange sparkly turban style hat.
You can tell that these guys are true musicians, and are highly trained. They have worked hard to get to where they are, and they haven’t just been belting out chords in the garden shed, hoping to get by on a catchy riff and a few choice lyrics. To gain a following while playing instrumental chamber pop (though they are not solely pop artists by any means) is not an easy feat, but these guys are doing well for themselves and are about to embark on an overseas tour.
CODA blend rock, electronica, world beats and classical sounds together to create songs that are often whimsical, but often also have furious and determined interludes. Some sound salsa like, some sound like gritty electronica, some have rock riffs, but classifying the genre of CODA is no easy task. Experimental, but drawing on tradition at the same time, CODA manage to keep a diverse sound without having to rely on lyrics.
In fact, when it was mentioned at the concert that CODA were searching for a singer to join the group for some of their new work, the audience reaction was one of shock and horror. Boos were even heard in response to this suggestion. I for one would be interested to see what adding vocals to the mix can do for this band… if it’s done right, that could even be the catalyst that pushes them out of Sydney’s indie scene and in to the mainstream.