Bearded Iris – Fuck. Tha Polise CS -review on Crawlspace’s SCUM MECCA column.
Bearded Iris is essentially the solo project of a single female who may or may not be called Ora Ni. The first few tracks are comprised predominantly of vocals, percussion and a few harsher, industrial-edged objects. Some of those that follow are a little less obtuse, but the sounds are decisively inept and the method of recording is a successful adoption of lo-fi austerity. ‘I Am Anne Marie’ is naively playful, even if the vocal snips are lewd, where ‘Ora Ni’ is a tribal no-wave dirge. There is a connection to Satanic Rockers/Encounter Group, with Lynton Denovan supplying drums on ‘Vagina Is Life’. The liners offer that the creator was “fucked up on laughing gas” during the tape’s composition. Three out of a potential five potatoes for unique absurdity.
some listings from Glasgow’s VOLCANIC TONGUE 2013.
Sacred Product cassette- “New release on Michael from Mad Nanna’s Australian underground imprint: Michael describes Sacred Product as being somewhere between The Satanic Rockers and Encounter Group and they sound almost like a more primitive (!!??) Afflicted Man, with nod-out rhythms and some totally lumbering/growling fuzz/bass riffs cut with classic oiky vocals that give the nod to the whole Swell Maps/Steve Treatment saga.”
A Band Called Life 7″ EP- “Amazing four-track EP from this Tasmania group featuring Adam Best and Karl von Bamberger of Horse Mania and Hammering The Cramps: formed in 2003 in Tasmania the band split in 2004 and were on hiatus until 2009 and this 7” comes from their final 2004 sessions. The sound is extremely DIY and formally implosive, recorded live to one track, with a declamatory slurred vocal style that comes over like a cassette-damaged Nate Young or Jim Shepard while the instrumentals are totally devolved, with moments of recorder, stuttering electronics, weird Casio keyboard jags and vocal drones that come out of the whole Shadow Ring/Storm Bugs side of UK bedroom psychosis. Can’t recall being so completely captivated by a weirdo 7” this side of, what, Beyond The Implode? The Bowles? Either way this is fantastic and highly recommended.”
A Band Called Horse cassette- “New cassette released to coincide with the release of the A Band Called Life 7”, A Band Called Horse feature Adam Best, Karl von Bamberger and Simon Hanselmann of Hammering The Cramps et al: another amazing set of Tasmanian DIY w/weird bedroom moves that could almost be The Familiar Ugly play The Shadow Ring, complete with de-tuned percussive guitars, dazed vocal monotony and an anarchic tape-junk aesthetic that makes me want to dig out the goddamn Gore Vidals. Fantastic.”
Dry Mouth Astral Outback cassette- Debut from this new Melbourne group featuring Sean McMorrow (Cockpit) and Cooper Bowman (Flat Fix et al): Drymouth play psychedelic electronic lurch with a crude cosmo sound that blurs Conrad Schnitzler’s epic early form with James Ferraro circa Heaven’s Gate and a weird bedroom gothic/industrial sense of scale that is extremely tough to finger.
Secret Valley cassette plus postcard- New cassette from Melbourne’s Secret Valley aka Dan Cross of Rentboy, 50 Million Clowns, Midnight Caller et al, here with help from Natalie Kumpus (The Enclosures) and Karl von Bamberger (Hammering The Cramps et al): Secret Valley play drum machine propelled international pop underground moves, with moody boy/girl vocals over bursts of fuzz guitar and a kind of Primitive Calculators-‘meets-Bitch Prefect feel.
Extrafoxx Pierre Le Rat cassette- “Reissue of this Brisbane group’s 2010 CD on Unique Beautiful Flowers, presented by Alberts Basement, the label run by Michael from Mad Nanna: Extrafoxx play odd, simple two chord fuzz garage pop with deadpan vocals and some stomping ostrich guitar/Lou Reed-isms. The effect is pretty mesmerising, with a level of poignancy and feeling that totally belies its construction.”
Extrafoxx Love Is God cassette- “Another album from Brisbane’s Extrafoxx, the vehicle for singer songwriter Conwae Burrell and who have featured members of Wonderfuls in their ranks, on Michael from Mad Nanna’s label: again, more deceptively simple two chord love and wonder songs, with Lou Reed-isms, wide-eyed repeat lyrics and some great passages of extended ostrich appeal.”
Ffehro Master cassette- “New release on Michael from Mad Nanna’s Australian underground imprint: Ffehro Master is the duo of Michael Donnelly of Sky Needle/Mad Nanna/6majick9 et al and Ian McIntyre. Recorded and edited to tape in Toowoomba in 1996 to act as a soundtrack to exhibitions in Donnelly and McIntyre’s gallery, the music is destroyed No Wave with bombastic guitar, spurts of wah wah and clattering mechanised rhythms de-railing what could almost be an upside down Oz-Industrial take on Ashtray Navigations.”
It Hurts The Thing That Stings cassette- “New release from the Australian underground label run by Michael from Mad Nanna: It Hurts hail from Auckland, New Zealand, an all-female trio that play a bizarre submerged form of heavily distorted avant pop, with F/X dazzled chants over mutated scrabbly bass runs, drums and cotton wool production values making for profoundly dub-damaged No Wave crank. Think Ut as re-imagined for Vanity via Flying Nun. Wuh?”
Blank realm “Deja what?” -review from Volcanic Tongue
Brand new studio album from these major VT faves at the heart of the fertile Brisbane Australia scene, currently ground zero for some of the hottest underground sounds. Deja What? comes in an edition of only 52 copies, which is kinda insane when dealing with sonics of this quality. The album showcases the more motorik, post-Velvets guitar psych side of the group, with mainlined chords that riff on the same irresistible groove of The Clean, Can, Cul de Sac and Neu, while male and female vocals explode out of the gate. Guitarist Luke Walsh is a particular motherfucker on this, channeling Ostrich guitar into realms of white out that are positively Japanese. Regular VT readers know how much we love this group and this is another doozy. Sold out at source. Recommended.
The warm cupboard compilation LP – review from doug wallen/mess and noise
A vinyl-only compilation featuring a neat cardboard half-sleeve, the eighth release from the Melbourne collective alberts basement underscores a love of all things modest and atmospheric. There’s a real intimacy to these 14 songs, and with such hazy home-recording tactics often on display, there’s also something ephemeral about it all. It’s as if each track is disintegrating as we listen.
The collection opens with the Frightening Lights, a trio that includes alberts basement honcho Michael Zulicki on drums. Their entry ‘Strangers’ dwells on Elizabeth Downey’s minimal guitar and delicate, nearly whispered vocals as well as Dan Hawkins’ foggy organ. ‘Drombeslade’ then finds Hi God People as vague and unwieldy as ever, while Kes Band’s ‘Alamakalamazoo’ is the record’s sturdiest contribution. Spiked with violin, precious lyrics and Karl Scullin’s flighty vocals, it’s elfin folk occupying the same hypnotic realm as Devendra Banhart.
Much sparser but not so different in spirit, Francis Plagne’s ‘My Ear Stands’ floats double-tracked vocals over an acoustic strum. An old-fashioned alarm clock rattles halfway through, followed by other incidental sounds, and the song ends with off-kilter humming. Aux Assembly’s ‘Fly’ then flickers for five minutes with burring noise, chunky feedback and phantom thumps, but varies enough to not wear out its welcome.
Star’s ‘Heavy Star’ is a loop-based meditation on quietly clanging guitar and wavering feedback, while the flipside settles in with Free Choice’s ‘One Chord At A Time/B.O.P.’, another abstract instrumental. It starts with a dull buzzing and ends with bird calls, subtly teasing different textures along the way. Another cryptic offering, Seth Rees’ brief ‘Singing Trams’ shrouds piano and apparent loops in reverb.
Vocals reemerge at long last with ‘Hey Owl’, a highlight from Aleks and the Ramps’ recent second album, Midnight Believer. A romantic slice of cosmic pop, it plays like frontman Aleks Bryant’s ode to bandmate and partner Janita Foley, who records and performs as Denim Owl. It’s then back to the diffuse with Christina Tester’s ‘Girl With Balloon’, a track wedding the squeak of fingers on a balloon with the kind of skittering laughs you only hear in Japanese horror movies. Fabulous Diamonds’ ‘Cemetery Dub’ is characteristic of the duo: Jarrod Zlatic and Nisa Venerosa’s detached vocals channeling Beat Happening over clattering rhythms and bristling loops.
Speaking of Beat Happening, the primitive pop trio Woollen Kits makes no bones about the 87-second ‘Rollerskate Girl’ sounding exactly like that band circa Black Candy. Rounding out the record is Baseball’s theatrically sung live rendition of ‘Songs Of The Righteous’ and Bleak Infinity’s ‘Skism Prism’, all glitchy noise, battered drums and the distorted squawk of female/male vocals. It’s a brash, punky finale for The Warm Cupboard, which so much of the time feels like a private, headphones-only showcase of the weird new talent peaking through Melbourne’s various cracks and crevices. Albeit less consistent than most compilations, it provides a fascinating and endearing glimpse at a moment in time that has already elapsed.
Vlady Vivaldi cdr – adrian elmer/cyclic defrost
In the vein of Francis Plagne, who is namechecked in the bio, Melbourne based Penelope Skliros creates a ramshackle collection of sound images under the name of Vlady Vivaldi. Her second (as far as I can work out) release is a woozy, intoxicating collection of simple yet evocative drones, repetitions and lo-fi improvisations. It’s difficult to pick exactly how it’s all been created, but I’m going to hazard a fairly certain guess along the lines of a room full of cheap instruments, some microphones and loop pedals. ‘Bankruptcy’ layers mellow vocal drones over a simple xylophone and synthetic double bass riff. ‘Sovereign’ is far more chaotic laying its vocals over random shakes, bells and squeaks. A collection of tracks through the middle of the release – ‘Slide’, ‘Vault’ and ‘Routine 1′ – use a relatively lower recording quality with tape hiss aplenty to place you inside the cassette recorder as Skliros lets her Casiotone rhythms loose and pounds non-sequiters on her toy piano. ‘Symbiosis’ provides one of the highlights, a gradually building collection of glottal noises which are simultaneously amusing and mildly disturbing. The closest the album comes to traditional musical structure is in the final track, ‘Ain’t Not One Goddam Song That Can Make Me Break Down And Cry’, in which Skliros’ voice is multiplied into a choir intoning the title in three parts.
Simple and effective, Vlady Vivaldi is a diverse yet coherent exploration of nonsense and sound for the sake of pleasure. Its sum effect is completely charming. It also makes me think that I’d love to see Skliros doing this stuff in a live context. I imagine it would be chaotically charged joyfulness.
Oscar Vincente Slorach-Thorn cd – Terrascope review
Released on the wonderfully independent Australian label alberts basement, The s/t debut album from Oscar Vincente Slorache –Thorn, opens with a sound akin to standing on a runaway as a jet takes off, before plunging the listener headfirst into a wasps nest as “Spinning Objects” takes control of the speakers. After this initial aural assault, thing become more focused, or maybe your ears become more attuned, the music seemingly friendlier and easier to digest. In fact, “3d” has structure, melody and even lyrics (not for the first time, but definitely the most structured) , something of a surprise, but a very welcome one. Highlight of the collection though is the final 14 minutes as “When I Watched” shimmers like a heat haze, a gauze-covered drone that is ancient and filled with dreams.
Oscar Vincente Slorach-Thorn cd – review from marcus whale/cyclic defrost
Melbourne musician Oscar Vincente Slorach-Thorn, known better as one of the founders of the alberts basement collective, assembled this album-length recording anonymously over the course of a couple of months as a side-step from his role as the primary member of Two Bright Lakes band Psuche. Slorach-Thorn announced the album with little fanfare, and a solitary launch show at The Toff In Town in Melbourne.
Perhaps it is a tribute to Slorach-Thorn’s disregard for glory and pomp in the release of music, that this album is so breathtakingly well assembled, venturing further from the experimental pop of Psuche and into lo-fi drone and noise. The sound of this album announces itself immediately, opening up with tape-distorted processing of clarinet and saxophone that for a brief one and a half minutes rips at the very fabric of the original until it is lost in tape noise. The outlook of Slorach-Thorn here is akin to Francis Plagne, small fractions of songs or vocals occasionally surfacing above, or overlapping intricately formulated sound worlds. Similarly, everything over the course of the album manages to sound vulnerable and precious, even in the full range of volume and timbres utilised. “Twilight Girl” offers up a looped ukelele and the first appearance on the album of Slorach-Thorn’s voice, buried gradually over the course of the track, until it is barely perceptible among the silence. Even more robust elements through the album have a loving warmth to them – walls of blanket keyboard, cut up pieces of tape noise and voice that somehow retain their edge over the long journey of their treatment.
The mixing throughout this release is puzzling in the best way possible. Slorach-Thorn manages the evolution of the many sounds on this album with poise and grace; texturally, no point in the album can be faulted. Fourteen minute closer “When I Watched” is a showcase for this, layers upon layers of keyboard drone co-ordinated and distributed in and amongst each other, with a puppet like control for their movement from A to B. The most valuable moments on this album, are the ones where little peeps of pitch seep through noise and drones, whether in the form of tiny, tinny keyboard sounds (”Tinder”), voice (”Spinning Objects”) or songs (”Twilight Girl”, “3d”). The weight and counterpoint of these elements makes for a beautiful listening experience.
“2nd of June 2007” compilation LP -review from simon lewis/terrascope
Finally from me, one of the most Terrascopic items I have received, a self released compilation LP documenting a collection of underground musician working out of Melbourne. Recorded in one Night at a gig in a Bedroom, the whole thing was captured live on one microphone into a computer. Featuring twelve bands, the music ranges from melodic instrumentals through lo-fi songs in unique styles, and carries on into heavier territory and fuzzed up mayhem. The remarkable thing about this endeavour however is that it is so damn listenable, the recording is excellent considering the circumstances and every piece of music has a spark of something that hold your attention. It seems churlish to pick out individuals so I wont, just to say, this must have been a magical night and the atmosphere has been perfectly captured on this record so go and buy one. Oh yes, even the cover is a home made treat fitting the mood with perfection.
“2nd of june 2007” compilation LP -review from joel hedrick/cyclic defrost
Last year could have very well been the height of east-coast Australia’s decidedly DIY and intensely underground music movement. Bands and venues like Naked On The Vague, Say Cheese and Die! at Lanfranchi’s in Sydney, Young Romantix at Forpaw Gallery and Cloudcity in Melbourne and groups like Look!Pond and On/Oxx in various houses and bars in Brisbane. Sounds ranging from idiot Black Metal (Radiation Nation), to loose, lurid improv (Holy Balm, Vincent Over The Sink) and soothing psychedelia (Fabulous Diamonds, Always). All of brought together by friends with offers of space – be it a warehouse, city park or friend’s bedroom – to perform or record and the unheralded power of MySpace. A handful of CD-Rs, cassettes and memories still remain to document this period of intense musical creativity from a large group of young, understudied and enthusiastic performers.
And then this: a limited edition vinyl release, with hand-painted covers, of a recording of a show in a bedroom in June last year in East Brunswick, Melbourne at which fifteen bands performed, twelve of which are represented here. As a whole the recordings are delicate, the performances range from amateurish to smilingly confident, understated to downright scared – all a testament to the times in which these kids grew up, being watched over by a callous, artistically insensitive government. Its gonna take a while before anyone can feel comfortable in their attempts to either succeed or achieve notoriety musically or artistically.
And whereas a good helping of these groups around this time sought the harder edges of the city curb, most notably the projects of Shaun South: Young Romantix Make Love and Deaf!Deaf! (who, incidentally, reside in the same area), these kids raised themselves on softer stuff. Rather than Teenage Jesus, Sonic Youth and White Light/White Heat, this shows more of an affection for Dylan, Cat Power, The Velvet Underground as well as some of the more spacious moments in Krautrock.
Everything opens with some quietly sad electric-folk from Great Earthquake and Humansixbillion. Low Rise Estate’s “Untitled” is probably the hardest sounding track here with its warped guitars and increasingly chaotic effects rack, all held down by a slow, heavy bass beat. Side A ends with an acoustic rave-up on TV and TV themes from Extreme Wheeze, ending with everyone in the audience singing along to the Captain Planet theme tune. The first half of Side B are soft, lilting pieces of improvised effects, guitars and lightly brushed drums. Guns For Saint Sebastian’s “A Is For Apple” with its gorgeous harp and cello in particular contains a grace that is so rarely found in Australian music of this nature. Touch Typist and Popolice provide some of the best, most lovely ambient fixtures on which, this author feels, we can hang our future music hopes.
Words on Nite Jewels track on “Your Colla The colour of mounds” compilation -on 2o jazz funk greats
Nite Jewel floats in a sorcerous space of her own making, witch master of an ice palace resting under the white hand of a terrible albino giant. Every hall glitters with the glamour of a thousand diamonds, sparkles in the eyes of dead kings that willed this to her.
The Kamera Song, a cover version of the Inner Space (you know, who would then move on to become Can), is included in the latest Albert Basement’s Compilation. Imagine the two peasants of the second story in Kwaidan, lost in the midst of a furious blizzard. Imagine them arriving to an abandoned hut where they seek protection from the biting snow, imagine a ghostly figure sliding inside the hut as they sleep, not to suck their life-force with a cruel spell, but to warm them up with a pretty lullaby. This is it.