Sydney artist Phondupe, the moniker for Rich Lucano, has just released his debut album, Onykia. It’s an album we’ve been eagerly looking forward to, having showcased Phondupe in our 20 artists to watch in 2020 list. Phondupe is a multi-dimensional artist with skills across the spectrum.
Producing lush intricate soundscapes, and possessing a voice that resonates depth and soul, he has also brought a visual aspect to his work, including elaborate live performance installations.
In the lead-up to the release of the album, Phondupe released seven singles and three music videos. Clearly, the pandemic didn’t curtail his creativity. The final track, “Ama”, has already clocked up over 100,000 plays on Apple Music.
Onykia is an album that references the hidden giants of the deep sea. This is an allegory of the deep thoughts which we possess in our minds. The tracks are diverse, each produced with a tender touch and tied together with the emotive binds of anxiety, belief and identity.
This album satisfies our high hopes for it and is a deeply rewarding listen. You can listen to it in full below. Whilst immersing yourself in the pleasure of Onykia, you can take a read of five albums that Phondupe has identified as being amongst the inspirations and influences for this debut. I must confess, there were a couple of discoveries here.
Lucio Battisti – Anima Latina
Anima Latina, to me, is one of the most progressive, ambitious records ever released. A 48-minute journey through prog, psychedelic soul, primitive electronica, Italo disco and shoegaze, released before some of those terms probably existed. The fact that it was released by a pop star who had – a few years earlier – won the San Remo song contest (think Australian Idol), makes it even more of a feat to me.
Lucio Battisti could be compared to the Bowie of Italy, but most of his fans hate this record. It was panned by the label for being too experimental. To me, it’s a work of genius – and an essential psychonautic adventure.
DJ Rashad – Double Cup
I’d released a track on an earlier EP that a journalist once referred to as footwork-influenced because of its 160bpm beats. I honestly had no idea what that was at the time but as a result, I ended up becoming obsessed with the genre, getting really into Teklife, DJ Rashad, DJ Spin. I love how you can lose yourself in the rapid-fire layers of percussion – you can hear a lot of these rhythms on Abyssal -4400, Fangtooth and Oxpecker.
Brian Eno Here Come The Warm Jets
This is one of those albums that changed what I thought music could be. I feel like many artists can be handcuffed by aesthetic boundaries, probably because it’s harder to market an artist doing lots of different things. Brian Eno has always subverted that expectation completely, jumping from genre to genre, always shapeshifting. I’m always trying to create sounds that you’ve never heard before, so Eno’s eccentric pursuit of new ideas really speaks to me.
It’s hard to pick one Seekae record but I’ll go with +Dome. Seekae were in many ways my “gateway” band into electronica, and they were doing this before the Ableton boom, at a time when every band in Sydney wore skinny jeans and covered The Go Betweens. Their production is always mind-melting. I was really lucky to work with George from the band on my lead single, SILO.
Massive Attack Mezzanine
I saw Massive Attack headline Fuji Rock Festival in 2010 and at the peak of their set, as the synths swelled against the backdrop of the mountains, I decided I was going to break up my indie band and make electronic music. Phondupe was born a few weeks later and it’s through Massive Attack that I went on to really sink my teeth into 90’s UK electronica. I’ve learnt a lot about tension and release through Massive Attack’s music.
Onykia is out now on Air Con Records