Secret Valley – The Glisten E.P. 12″
“With male and female vocalists exchanging MB tinnie drawls, soporific strumming, prominent accessions from non-rock instruments – trombones, drum machines here – The Glisten contains, at a glance, all the touchstones of Melbourne jangle (right down to a Mikey Young master credit). But Secret Valley are more adventurous than that, and more than a little misanthropic. In fact, for all their genre infidelity and ambitious lo-fidelity, Secret Valley are more like the Beta Band making a moonlight confessional.
‘Angry Loners Unite’ makes for an arresting opener, greeting us with a playful synth keyline before engulfing it in the unmistakable scuzz of J&MC. Dual vocalists Dan Cross and Phoebe Robertson (who with both trombone and vocal duties makes a welcome new addition to what was originally Cross’ solo project) are deployed to great effect, intersecting less as a conversation and more as two lone satellites ambling in silent simpatico. It’s a well-timed revisitation of the Mazzy Star/J&MC collab ‘Sometimes Always’ via muted new wave cool, condensing the double helix of hermetic love into two a half minutes of pop bliss.
‘Be Happy and Enjoy Yourself’ is SV at their slackest, a stoner drawl waltzing in after a lengthy meander of trombone. It’d all make for a lovely summer’s day, but the interjection of dissonant drone and boisterous buzz saws land like a fly in your Calipo as the tune’s core platitude dissolves from proverb into taunt.
‘Crow Bar’ brings Modern Lovers’ comparisons to sharper relief, as syllables stagger for emphasis from the mouth of a disillusioned party goer. Finally, the acoustic strums of “My Two Kids” false starts as an act of contrition before the rainclouds of distortion appear and take us somewhere darker still.
Don’t be fooled by the playful synths, this is deeply jaded music. But where cynicism can often translate as a symptom of arrogance, ‘The Glisten’ EP is full of pathos. Its not your Blood on the Tracks moment, but it will take the edge of a boozy lunch with an ex or, better still, some successful asshole you wound up seated next to.” – The Daily Dart, Melbourne
Elli and Bev – Might Not Look Like It To You 12″
“Ecstasy is a musical trope that will ordinarily grace your air waves in one of three ways: the pop-friendly sublimations of “tonights gonna be a really good night”, phoned-in metaphors (you ARE my ecstasy) or agonising braggadocio. Indeed, for how fun the drug can be, especially while enjoying a sweet banger, in reality there is nothing less fun or imaginative than ecstasy in song.
Fortunately, with “Might Not Look Like it To You” Elli and Bev have supplied us with a faithful rendition of the ecstasy fuelled exploits that allow us to proudly call Melbourne the highest consumer per capita of MDMA.
Elli and Bev was a short-lived collaboration between local synth heads Natalie K (from The Enclosures) and Karl Von Bamberger (from every other band). Incubated, tellingly, in a Preston party and recorded subsequently in two days, “Might Not Look Like it To You” is the duo’s love song to party culture. And, believe it or not, it doesn’t sound like the new Melbourne cum Ibiza Balaeric sensation. Rather, E & B exploit slow reflective pacing and laconic vocals to bridge the gap between Saturday night and Saturday night when you are a disembodied pair of sunglasses nursing an iced latte.
However, Elli and Bev aren’t the arch-miserablists this synopsis would have you believe. Humour may be a common symptom of the short-lived collaboration, but here the duo are in fine form. Funny yet never jokey, the lyrics are cold and observed, and like any slow onset of sober conscience they play the fly on the wall in the room of their own cold sweat come down.
The vocalists are distinct but sympathetic, with Natalie K’s more lucid melodicism being intercepted by Von Bamberger‘s loose singspeak. On opener “31 Men” Natalie K reflects with cool detachment on the previous night’s alleyway trysts before concluding “something’s aren’t even that fun/do it like no one ever cared”. Among the sly nods debaucherous grandstanding, Von Bamberger takes aim at chemically enhanced amorousness on “Already Gone”: “I blink and live my whole life with you”. The pair are tongue-in-cheek but never facetious, and there’s a facet of truth in every anecdote.
Sonically ,the record sits somewhere between the glacial pace and textural meditations of HTRK and the spectral brutalism of Throbbing Gristle (the elegiac “Bonus Life”, in particular, recalls the mothball dirge of “Convincing People”). On the cusp of dissonance, synth and organ tones fill the space wonderfully, as vocals surface on heavy rainclouds of polyphony. All this, set to minimalist drum loops that make Beach House sound like Art Blakey.
Unlike their analogues however, Elli and Bev aren’t impressionistic about their art; vocals are laid gloriously bare to serve the narrative. The Aussie accent, in all its unadulterated twang, is an instrument in and of itself.
It all makes for an enticing package, and it’s a shame this will likely be the first and last instalment for the duo. Elli and Bev have gifted us an original, spreadeagled take on the long weekend, as humorous as it is bittersweet. ’31 Men’, I’ll add, is an underrated dart for the ages.” – The Daily Dart, Melbourne
Mysteries of Love – Wasted Love LP (Albert’s Basement)
Shuffling haunt of twangy, obliterating guitars with background taps and some low register vocals competing for real estate with the instruments around it. Really everything lives and dies around that guitar tone, given the roughness of the recording and realization of the spaces surrounding them, so when they hit a Velvets-y lop on “Pale Moon” or a Jandekian emotional collapse on “No One,” celebrate with the sense that you’re hearing love in its rawest form. Guys from this project (recorded in the late ‘00s in Tokyo) have been futzing around the Australian fringes for years, in projects like Greymouth and Love Chants, with production by xNOBBQx’s Matt Earle. Love is tough to find and harder to hold, and there’s only 250 copies of this to go around, so believe me when I say that they know. (http://www.albertsbasement.net)
Tip of the tongue at Volcanic Tongue Jan 11 2015 – Elli and Bev Might Not Look Like It To You 12″.
Fantastic debut EP from an Australian underground duo made up of Karl Von B (Hammering The Cramps/A Band Called Life) and Natalie K (The Enclosures): across four blasted slow-mo nocturnal pop songs the group trade frail/wayward boy/girl vocals and sing haunted lullabies that combine the macabre emotional weight of The Kiwi Animal with the kinda narcotic international underground appeal of that killer Beat Happening/Screaming Trees EP. Droning keyboard and nod-out drum machines are illuminated by simple hymnal melodies that combine the kinda austere atmosphere of the late Shadow Ring recordings with a dosed Spacemen/Spectrum vibe and a Pip Proud crying-at-the-moon appeal. Lonely, raw basement exegesis at its best. Play this one back to back with your favourite Call Back The Giants side for maximum lost at sea effect. Very highly recommended.
From Yellow Green Red Jan 2015
Elli And Bev Might Not Look Like It To You 12″ (Albert’s Basement / Quemada)
Always nice to receive a new transmission from the Albert’s Basement / Quemada camp, and this one is as quietly delicate as any, another soft hand-knitted sock draped across the couch. The name “Elli And Bev” makes me think of two old friends, ostensibly blue-haired senior citizens with reserved seats at bingo night, and while the two behind this project surely have the better part of their lives ahead of them, that same sort of adorable camaraderie is evident here. Their songs often start with the buzz of a tiny electric organ or clink of an even tinier drum machine, followed with some softly-spoken vocals and maybe a guitar or two. Mood-wise, it has kind of a minimal indie-pop feel, but on the dirge end of things, like whatever the slowest 14 Iced Bears song is, or Brighter at their most ominous. Or perhaps Tori Kudo overseeing production of a new Floating Di Morel album? Might Not Look Like It To You is far simpler than all these comparisons I’m throwing about, but it’s a simplicity that leads to such wild dreaming, and I like it.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
LOST ANIMAL “demo” Albert’s Basement
The pleasure of observing actual careers emerge, grow and change is, to my mind just about the most satisfying thing about being a music fan. Watching a band take those stumbling first steps, seeing them fill with piss and vinegar and really work out what it is they’re doing, mature, change, go in new directions, find things out about themselves and apply that to music – hell yeah.
One chap whose stabs at song I’ve dipped in and out of over some years is Geelong-bred Jarrod Quarrell who has grown over a lengthy period of time into one of the musicians I truly admire in Australia. There truly aren’t all that many these days – I used to care about music a lot more than I do now, and I really need it to be great to make an impact. If you’re not The Stabs or Batrider, you’re going to have to do a lot to impress me at all, and you better not be Alex and The Ramps.
Or you could be Lost Animal.
It was funny, hearing of the demise of St Helen’s. I’m not in Melbourne much and I want to make sure I see the right band when I do, so ending up at a some trendy muso party was going to be a risk, but off I went and was lucky enough to be at the debut gig of Beaches. They were pretty damn good but not that fantastic the night I saw them, but there’s good stuff in that outfit. I think they’ve been over-cheered a bit by the Melbourne music Mafia, but that’s scarcely their fault; it’s just that things that are fine, but not that good, are getting lauded as being brilliant when they aren’t but might be, as if potential is all one needs. This is bullshit, your band has to actually get there to worthy of all the shouting, and I worry that some acts will get too hyped and fuck themselves before time (I’m looking at YOU Woollen Kits. Don’t listen to anyone, just write some more songs. Don’t listen to me either, just keep doing exactly what you’re doing and don’t think you’re shit hot just yet). Beaches are, nevertheless, a fine band who I wish a long career to (and maybe longer than some of the other bands they’re in).
The same party night I saw Beaches though, I saw St Helens.
My lord, did I see St Helens.
Now, I was already a fan of The New Season, and indeed, an EP of theirs was my most played release of 2006. The song writing, the lyrics, the delivery – as good as it gets, really. One foot in classic rock, one the truth, The new Season could hit it. I had seen them a hundred years prior, in ancient Hobart days, with a line-up that really only played in Hobart, and liked fine then, but that CD in a cream sleeve was a revelation and a half – I loved it. When I heard of St Helen’s I was interested, but seeing them confirmed it – Jarrod Quarrell is a force. I damn near wet myself with excitement and really could not understadn why so much attention was being paid to Beaches when there was this thing to get knocked down and mugged by, but my guess was that they’d be seen before and everyone was thrilled by the fresh thing, so I guess that’s okay. You get a pass.
I eventually scored the album and it was all there – the vocals, the breathy masculinity haunts all of Quarrell’s work – some music isn’t gendered some is, and this is music by a dude, with dude’s issues – it’s not bogged down in maleness but there’s no mistaking the air of sex and loss in the lyrical content. I mean, it ain’t Hemingway, but there is a bit of Bukowski hanging around.It was fine stuff and the next thing i knew, that’s all she wrote. No band. Done. Okay.
Which, finally leaves me with a demo cassette of songs released by Albert’s Basement. Who sent me this and another pile of neat enough stuff that got shunted off to a box while I did an art project that involved travelliung the hinterlands of Tasmania in a truck then going to South East Asia to kind of recover from said proejct, that was hard for a lot of reasons. I’ll tell you over a beer. A lot of beer.
This cassette is Jarrod Quarrell solo, under the name Lost Animal, and never has something been better named because this beautiful, surly music does indeed have a pulse and a bit of a defensive snarl, that doesn’t want to let you in but just has to, carrying you along on smart, emotional hookd and the dissections of life as it really is I’ve come to expect from Quarrell.
I do expect the guy to be good these days, yeah. A proven track record is even less of a reason to relax and this is where Lost Animal really does it for me – there was nothing wrong at all with St Helen’s. It was great, in fact. And I’m sure the Lost Animal material could have been done just fine in that combination, but that is not what it’s about – they had to be this way to get them right, and so, Jarrod just moves on then and there, because it’s not the band or my career, it’s making the best music you can the right way.
And this crappy demo is just that – the best music made the right way.
I am fairly keen for an album, but I assure you, these songs hit the damn spot.
Get this, get an album, go see the guy.
I have a feeling it’ll be completely fantastic.
– Andrew Harper / The Swollen Ear
review of The Unbuilt cassette by Charles Ives Singers
I had to pick one last 2013 tape to review out of a pile of Albert’s Basement goodies and came up with this convincingly caffeinated, ‘caw’ing cassette of cacophany and mind-crags. The Charles Ives Singers (please let that be a nod to Burl Ives, the singing-snowman guy) blow like Smegma, layer like Avarus, and can even synth-up a bit in a fashion I’m not used to hearing. It’s all fun and/or games until the two sets of keys open disparate doors and wander off on their own, never to be retrieved. Then the horns come in again and we’re in skronk territory, which, when applied directly to a wound… will cause the wound to bleed more. That’s GOOd. That’s SIck but GOOd. Now, break out that auctioneer’s cap and start breakin’ out some numbers; that’s it, boy. From here you already know if you’re gonna head this way or not so I’ll spare you the shenanigans. Kiwi-for-life, bitches. -Cerberus, Tiny Mix Tapes
A Band Called Life s/t 7″ 45rpm Albert’s Basement 2013
Pull out yer copy of Vibing Up the Senile Man, soak it in Quakersol for a week and leave it behind a bus station, retrieve it once caked in the fond of a wet summer and what ya get is the single I got sittin right ‘ere. Straight up rotted gunk oozed outta Karl from Hammering the Cramps and a few names I don’t recognize. The words–ranted, layered, and strewn like a cardboard box shredded in a rainstorm–speak obtusely of fuck buddies and deep paranoia. Then they play train conductor for a bit before dragging Santa’s sleigh by the short and janglies into the woods for a twisted ceremony, singing “everything is naturaaaal…electricity is naturaaal…just like the tennis…” all the way. The final track is almost affectionate and almost normal, but not without its teeth. Hoo lawdy, if I wern’t havin’ a round while this spun, I’d be hurtin’ for one after. Which is to say, I’m into it! Transmissions from the Gulf seafloor of pop music; case of the bends free with purchase.
Still to be found in distros in the US or direct from the label. -Sebastion Morris-White/Buffet Of Loathesome
Morning and the Sleepy Kids “Songs 2004-2007 cassette” Alberts Basement 2010
Working my way thru the back catalog of Albert’s Basement, I find this right-charmin’ lil compendium of bedsit indie pop. Thankfully, this stuff is way less emetic than some of its contempos and predecessors in that it skips the MASH note-type emotional galaxy and goes right for the burned-out high school junior carvin’ sad admissions in a shredded notebook sittin’ on the hood of a Honda dimension. We all need to hang with that kid from time to time and these past few weeks seemed ripe for it round here. Nice, humid, dusty ashtray recording helps, as does a cover of “Cryin” that’s at least as good as the one the glue fiend in Gummo mumbles to his buddy. Dub some for your friends, but file betwixt Cannanes and the Southern Comfort 7″. -Sebastion Morris-White/Buffet Of Loathesome
ABC Life 7″ review in Tiny Mix Tapes’s Cerberus column.
Note to self: AVOID MENTIONING the outpouring of punk bands from Australia drenching the states in spittle. It’s been done, man, and then some. Come to think of it, don’t even mention A Band Called Life’s Aussie roots. Pretend they’re from N.Z., or even better, focus strictly on the next-level antics of ABCL and their self-titled single on Alberts Basement. Talk about how it’s the best experimental minimalist punk set you’ve heard since you first laid your ears on Pumice, or Babe, Terror, or Lemon Kittens (lol you LOVES to namedrop Lem-Kit you shithead); touch upon the dizzying guitar spiral, drunken shakers, hotel-front-desk bells, and general sense of horror that makes “Supine and Generative” tick like a timebomb; mention that what renders trashy music like this so valuable, almost despite itself, is the lack of care, as most who would endeavor to create a work such as “Everyone’s Trying to Kill Me” would end up tidying or scrapping the project entirely. In other words, how did they (or he, more appropriately) even know to stop? It’s easy to assume they’re weirdos and all that, because they are, but no one seems to consider how truly DIFFicult it is to LEAve something you’ve been working really HARd on alone when it, to most ears, would technically sound unFINished. Like “Everything’s Natural”; I totally would have fucked that song up. I would have cleaned up the boom-box vocals, formed the percussive elements into a cohesive whole, and set the synths to a consistent rhythm. I can’t even describe the evil I would do to this lovely piece of art, and I’m you! So don’t fuck this up Grant Purdum (I mean, that’s you’re real name; who the fuck is ‘Gumshoe’?); we’re all counting on you. -Grant Purdum
listings on Volcanic Tongue – March 2014
for Bruce Tiffany cassette – Killer out-of-focus pop/psych album from this transplanted New Zealander, now resident in Melbourne, Australia: released on Michael of Mad Nanna’s label, this is a totally beguiling set of basement female psych in the tradition of Azalia Snail/Barbara Manning et al but with a fidelity that is semi-erased and that presents keyboard/vocal songs that would reconcile The Happy Flowers and The Silicon Teens via almost Ferraro-style cottonwool production. Weirdly affecting and strangely captivating.
for Vodka Sparrows cassette – Beautiful set of dual guitar poetry from Anthony Guerra (Black Petal/Love Chants/Antipan et al) and Mark Leacy: released on Michael of Mad Nanna’s label, No Title/Self Title is a remarkably beautiful working. The players match the kinda muted string poetry of mid-period Loren Connors while working luminous repeat phrases and almost gamelan string sonorities that would somehow tie-up Taurpis Tula circa Sparrows, the furthest live orbits of the The Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” and contemporary Suishou No Fune. The sound of silence, way beyond the long blank. Recommended.
some more praise for Fu Kung on the 4zzz brisbane radio site..
Finally! Just when you thought rock n roll couldn’t become more watered down, comfortable and boring comes along a band that defiantly riddles the mediocre masses with bullets. This band is SATANIC ROCKERS, a ragtag bunch of Melbourne based New Zealand expats. Fu Kung is an album that will restore any old notion you might have had that rock n roll can be dangerous, challenging, offensive and thought provoking. Recorded to a laptop in a spare room of their house and performed entirely through practice amps, Satanic Rockers bring the rawness to forefront and the results are spectacular.
The instrumentation is lethargic and not out to entertain. The drummer barely hold a consistent rhythm together throughout and the guitars simply slowly drone like WWII bombers over the top. The album cover is of a giant erect penis Kung Fu-ing it’s way through two tall white blocks which may or may not allude to two certain ill fated towers. Satanic Rockers do not give a fuck about pleasing you. This all might sound terrible but the complete lack of ego or ambition in their approach means there are no filters and no self censorship which is incredibly liberating. This music is real and demands your absolute attention, as the lyrics are where this band shines.
Opener ‘Magic Wandella’ tells the true story of a show the band played in a small NSW town. During the night the inhabitants became increasingly violent towards the bands, throwing bottles at the stage and flexing muscle as they attacked the performers, forcing them to hastily retreat to avoid more serious injury. The lyrics refer to the situation as a ‘small town hoedown on monkey planet’ which sounds hilariously apt. ‘Micro Manager’ is a gripe about the degradations that come with working a crappy job under a jerk boss. Lynton Denovan’s vocals are intelligently reserved and delivered matter-of-factly – there is no shouting or screaming at all on this album – wisely knowing it’s a waste of energy. ‘Regional Command’ brings in war imagery and describes defending a hill while blowing the attackers away with a machine gun. Fuck yeah. ‘The Eviction’, from what I can interpret through its poetic imagery of death, is a submission to satan in the name of rock n roll. Power, control, domination and yet also submission are recurring themes throughout the album. ‘Cup Of Tea’ settles down with the simple request of a decent cup of tea, albeit through a drug mangled haze. Fu Kung ends with ‘The Legendary Pignose’, a mighty 10 minute ode of love toward the band’s preferred brand of amplifiers. The words come straight off the Pignose boxes their battery powered practice amps came in.
Satanic Rockers have created a powerful rock n roll album while expending very little physical effort in the process and this is highly commended. An essential listen for anybody who wants to hear how this music can be done right.
– Matt Kennedy.
Write-up of FU KUNG by The Satanic Rockers up on Volcanic Tongue Feb,2014.
“Amazing/elusive LP from this legendary short-lived Australian underground cell: co-released by Patrick of Mad Nanna’s Sunshine & Grease imprint, Michael of Mad Nanna’s Albert’s Basement label and Anthony Guerra’s Black Petal, Fu-Kung is a stunning amalgam of deadpan UK DIY-isms, crude Chrome-style beatbox/fuzz guitar basement cyborg form and gloriously wretched sludge. Imagine Swell Maps circa “Let’s Build A Car” attempting to wrestle Sabbath-scale riff damage over cheap rhythm machines while Darren Harris runs a mocking commentary on his living conditions. Or think Shadow Ring circa “Interstellar Overdrive” jamming Kiwi Animal. The vocals are amazing; over massively phased/endlessly blunt three chord dirges there are songs about tea, neighbours, ugly sisters and dead end jobs while the fuzz solos have alla the squeal of your favourite Twisted Village bomb. If you dig American avant garage ala MX-80 or even crude private metal like Sainte Anthony’s Fyre as much as UK basement heads like Redemption Inc/Slug Acid Freaks/Omming For Woks et al then this is pretty much a dream date. Totally out of print, band long gone on to projects like Sacred Product, this is a rare chance to grab a copy of a modern monster and a record that was for many people one of the last minute records of 2013. Very highly recommended!”
Live review by Matt Middleton…
a band called life, crude, encounter group..empress august 3
Welcome to the new. The race track, the lifer. Its a bland and recalcitrant praecox, filial and bilial, mordant to the core. In laymans terms we call it privacy.
Indebted as I am to Her Majesties prurient labial divide I still rake up the gumption to rake-in free- trade lilliput dollar. Cumming-on-hair net-in-manilla-folder, I accelerate photons via Nokia’s pre- millenial wack-sack.
So munitions-r-us is the role-call aeternal because we walk on and left and right and whip up a soporific syrupy lie-bake. In laymans terms I throw a pie in the microwave, charging up those water molecules, laser laser trade-off cost-benefit teenager teenager. So isnt it time to talk sense? Is the cryptic style overdone? Please, feel free to comment below, oh reader. Tell me to stop with the metaphor and thrash realist, document it all like a journalist. Write it like they read it, plumb-line and the balance, like a finite arc, a masonic brick-layer.
Ah the solace of the net cafe.
What ho! A Crude performance no less, first in a good while. Gradually refining the improv craft, pre-recorded rhythm, ad-lib theatre-sporting o’er top. Crude style : a base spat’n’rhyme , edgy verse, hooliganesque chorus. Tic expletive and holler. I performed first, little vignettes referencing issues ontological. Marvellous fun with a pitch shifter, voice-play, that creepy low pitch utilized by media to conceal a criminals identity, dialogue gleaned from Alien as the pedal emulates that priceless phaser effect Ash sputters forth post-decapitation. Patrick o’Brien of Mad Nanna fame arrives just as i put the set to bed and he requests an encore. Pat, a stalwart of the Melbourne avant garde music scene, is a man i respect, and I drone on. Audience engorges and imbibes. I disgorge and break windy.
Then it’s Encounter Group, the new group reconstituted from the remains of Lynton Denovans Satanic Rockers . Encounter Group is the brilliant continuation of Denovans magico-poetic career, a juggernaut you can pack into a matchbox, a easy to assemble unit brandishing the best in ultra portable equipment, pig nose amps , flange units and electric drum pads . What a din! Nasty buzz-fuzz metal riff tinker tanker backed up by Drummer Jeremy’s Courbrough’s deft electronical drum-drum, the drum provides a ‘back-beat’ which tends to centralize and propel the music as in a march or quickstep dance.. Kick / snare// kick /snare, drum ‘kits’ are the legacy of marching bands . The drummer keeps time and acts as a conducting mechanism. Lyntons vocal delivery is a joy to behold – listen close , each sentence is a clue. Stories are laid bare, people, places, wars, front-lines, psychedelic travelogues, everyday hypocrisies. At least, that’s what I think they refer to. I am probably wrong. Guess ill see him at work on Monday. Encounter Group are one of the greats, amongst the throngs of kiwi artisans flooding into the city ov Melbourne, the great diaspora, we pay our share of tax to Canberra but too bloody bad if you need to draw down a little government welfare in times of redundancy…kiwis are notoriously hard workers, we do you guys a sterling service, but on the off chance we’re in trouble, you can fuck off back to fuck-a-tane mate. New Zealanders are the only country who can’t get centrelink assistance apparently. And don’t get me started on that fucking leechlike system called Myki. Corrupt nepotistic meth slinging Freemason rape-a-holic racist sexist baby booming hypocrit slave trading inside trading bilderberging banker family worshipping right wing scapegoating ideologues mate.
Then it’s the main act….A Band Called Life, on a microtour promoting their new 7″ release on Alberts Basement. Avant Garde is what I’d call it. Drowning in words and one track tape chatter with keyboard warble and one half of the duo actually skyping in his performance…these be troubleshooters. Get em a job Google. I wasn’t sure if their performance was wholly or partially improvised. And those words! Check out the lyric sheet that comes with the beautiful 7″ . Sardonic, but there’s a faint gentleness there, a warmth. A tepid warmth but. Go get ye the disc!!!
Secret Valley makes…
Everett True’s 100 Favourite Songs of 2013. Yes, one hundred, and every last fucking song is genius.
Secret Valley – The Night Life
The third song on this cracked golden delight of a cassette album – available for free download RIGHT NOW – is called ‘Streets Of Fitzroy’ and it bears even less resemblance to The Thin Kids‘ ‘Streets Of Brisbane’ then I do to your lover. It borders on romantic, inasmuch as failed hedonism always flatters itself that it borders on romance. There’s feedback and borderline pretension. And if everyone sings like they’re hungover, and if all the instruments sound woozy and splatted with alcohol, it’s because they very probably are.
Secret Valley cassette review on 4ZZZ Brisbane.
A relatively new Melbourne based 3 piece, Secret Valley might not be on many people’s music radar yet, but this self titled debut album may do something to change that; or not, how would I know? Originally hailing from Tasmania, the band have brought their talent to the mainland and have constructed a collection of bedroom pop tunes with admirable lo-fi production aesthetics and an easy aura of laid-back chill.
Opening track and potential mega-radio-hit The Night Life is an ode to living only for the weekend. It is pure electro-dance-pop and catchy as heck, with hazy boy/girl vocals advocating a lifestyle of hedonistic, wasted abandon over the mundane alternative of a well adjusted yet unfulfilled working life. The theme might be vacuous but the yearning for something more exciting is easy to relate to, all the same. You Will Never Be Satisfied opens with a cheapo drum machine and simple but quietly powerful keyboard line, which work their casio magic as a tale of bitter rejection and heartache is narrated in the first person. It is a nice counterpoint to the overt superficiality of The Night Life and adds some basic emotional depth to the album. Glitter Lung brings the noise and some abstract quirks to the foreground, with epic distorted keys and a demented chorus. What the hell is a glitter lung?
There’s enough sonic variety throughout the album to keep things interesting, with the guitar and keyboard ratio about even. All instruments compliment and blend with each other well, as do the dual vocals. There’s also some very decent stereo mixing given the basic production values. Things relax into tea drinking territory on stripped back folk inspired tune Morning Star and the album ends on a slow, expansive note with final track Storm, coming off like a soundtrack to the inevitable hangover one would experience at the tail end of the experiences expressed throughout.
Secret Valley is a well crafted and fun pop album. It’s available only on limited release through independent Melbourne label Alberts Basement, and I have a feeling it will either be a small cult hit gained through good old fashioned word of mouth, or that it will just disappear into pointless obscurity. Hopefully the former.
– Matt Kennedy.
Volcanic Tongue April 2013
Wardenburger S/T – Great new 90 minute album from this psychedelic/improvisatory collective from Brisbane: Wardenburger consist of Henry Mills on electronics, Skye McNicol on violin, Jule Small on vocals, Rohan Halliday on keyboard, Alex Cuffe on percussion, Nicola Morton on synth, Dylan Jeffries on guitar and Adam Park on bass. They channel the heady cultic deep-space vibe of East Bionic Symphonia but a more hands-on/basement punk style, setting out for new zones of weird melodic stasis in a way that touches on the more abstruse NNCK strategies circa A Tabu Two, with passages that consist of nothing but padding percussion and woozy electronics/strings that could almost be the Charlie Nothing big band live from the Bardo Matrix.
X In O – Debut cassette from the solo project of Brisbane’s Katie Martin who plays in Stag, collaborates with Mel Simpson etc: fans of Mel’s cracked vision of avant girl pop will dig the hell out of this as it orbits a similarly wobbly universe, with amazing synth instrumentals that come across as dilated cartoon Joe Meek universes as filtered via the BDTD tape aesthetic and sad sound works that cross the Tolerance/Vanity sound with a bedroom Kraftwerk/Aphex Twin appeal. Great stuff.
The Charles Ives Singers The Unbuilt – Great set of improvised/freak moves from this trio from Brisbane featuring Victor Meertens, Alexis Ensor and David Palliser: the group use brass, drums, keyboards, strings and vocals to explore total musical freedom, moving from horn/drum blats that come right out of the FMP song book through LAFMS-style vocal goof ascensions and weird obsessive small scale manipulation that would reconcile Prick Decay and the Music Improvisation Company. A refreshingly wide-ranging and defiantly ‘non-idiomatic’ take on free music. Each cassette has unique original artwork from Palliser.
Psychward Cult Magnetic Coma – Full-length set from the Melbourne-based concern of Thomas Miller of Trichotillomania/Pathetic Human/Sexofago/Magic Crowbar Tapes et al: the A side features an extremely dilated improvisation that moves with very subtle guitar string work, distant arcing/eerie classical/choral/ghost drones and various non-identifiable low-scale activity, coming over like Biota stretched and screwed by Maurizio Bianchi at the Organum annual picnic. The flip presents a ‘big band’ working that has an A Band-plays-The Great Learning feel and some inexplicably affecting settings for minimal fog horn electronics. A really great weirdo side with a hard-to-finger appeal.
Rob & Stefan Manic Guitar Sessions – Amazing archival uncovering of bedroom guitar jams from Rob Buick and Stefan Jordan recorded in Christchurch New Zealand during the glory years of 1992-93: this is fantastic; high energy jams that come over like the unreleased second instrumental Department Store Santas album or perhaps even a ginchier mid-period electric Jandek band or some kind of Simply Saucer/Go Team hybrid. Simply phenomenal and highly recommended.
Charles Ives Singers – Unbuilt CS – from the Scum Mecca column on Crawlspace January 2013
This absurdist group, led by Victor Meertens, has in my experience maintained no distinct direction and Unbuilt possesses a similarly disordered sense of navigation. On the first excursion, vocal scats n’ bloops move around horned instruments, building into a chaotic melee with the addition of an abused drum kit. Obviously a disjointed organ ditty follows. As does what appears to be Meertens doing his best auction caller in the background, his voice eventually mutating into a demented didgeridoo squall. Unbuilt continues in this typically disorderly and disorienting fashion for its 63 minute duration. CIS are not incarcerated by the conventions of melody nor common sense. However, as nonsensical as it all sounds, you can’t help but see that serious consideration has gone into its creation. The very fact that three people have all had this same thought is a bloody miracle, let alone found each other and committed the results to tape.
X in O – Untitled CS – Review from Scum Mecca column on Crawlspace
Apparently X in O is Kate Martin, one of the gals from Stag and presumably numerous other Brisbong bands. On ‘You’re My Satellite’ and ‘Solid’, Martin employs minimal drum machine and saccharine key sounds, often with a clubbish low end buzz underneath to good effect. However, the guitar strumming and woodblock sounds of ‘Spiralise’ slip over the wrong side of the precipice of twee. On the flip, ‘Total Recoil’ moves closer to a soundtracking style, followed by several more key-heavy tunes before ‘Hammer And Popsicle’, a mulch of digitised noise, interrupts. It would be lazy to draw a line between X In O and Scraps due to their shared geography and instrumentation, but there is definitely some mild cross-pollination going on. X in O is a mixed bag to be sure, some fine moments and others that are too easily relegated to the limited confines of ‘casio pop’.
words from Volcanic Tongue july 2012
Morning & The Sleepy Kids – Songs 2004-2007 Tape
Inspired and inspiring compilation that mops up the best of this obscure/weirdo Australian bedroom pop unit that recorded a buncha songs in Melbourne in the mid-2000s: this is just totally irresistible, a bunch of teenage girls recording classic DIY acoustic femme-pop in their bedroom with goofy harmonies, whistling solos, hiccups, wistful/melancholy/funny lyrics and primitive no-chops technique. Co-ordinates for this kind of magical outsider pop might be The Marine Girls, Tracey Thorn’s classic A Distant Shore, Barbara Manning’s Lately I Keep Scissors, Cannanes/Rabbit’s Wedding, even Circuit Des Yeux but the atmosphere is uniquely out-of-time and their occasional attempt to get it across like early Dylan are massively endearing. Still, there’s a melancholy to the recordings, a distance and a purity that is beyond any notion of ‘naive’ art cut with some fantastic instrumentals that come over like a bedroom take on Simply Saucer and The Clean and some genuinely inspired songwriting. If your favourite cassette compilation features tracks by Oklahoma Scramble, Spook & The Zombies and Calvin Johnson’s Go Team then prepare to have your heart broken. Someone should really give em the full deluxe vinyl reissue treatment but in the meantime this is just endlessly great. All rendered on classic ‘vintage’ home recorded/hand-written cassettes. Highly recommended if the above co-ordinates mean anything to you.
Girls Girls Girls s\t Tape
More amazing no-count crude avant rock jams from the Australian trio of Matt Earle (Craft Bandits/xNoBBQx/Breakdance The Dawn et al) on percussion and electronics, Adam Park (Sprot) on bass and Rohan Holiday (Kitten Party/Teen Sex) on guitar: Girls Girls Girls play an extremely dilated form of avant garage that subverts concepts of instrumental ability – even of actually playing – to the point of narcoleptic hands-off string dunt and entropic rhythmic collapse. Indeed at points it sounds like they have turned the Corwood back catalogue inside out and are now playing it backwards, such is the mind-boggling levels of savant-styled improvisatory prowess on display here. Smears of indecipherable vocals come over like an autistic call to prayer while the drums slug it out with Sunny Murray in the car park and the guitars stagger between psychedelic slo-motion surf/punk re-thinks, F/X damaged one-note ‘solos’ and thuggish bloody-minded invented chord patterns. Sublime rock instants way beyond ‘technique’, this is free improvised music that far outstrips anything going in the tepid contemporary ‘improv’ scene in terms of vision and inspired new modes of group-think. If Derek Bailey was alive today I’d rather hear him jam with these guys than with the usual bedwetters. All sounds are innocent!
Mad Nanna tape
Excellent new live cassette from these big VT faves, Melbourne, Australia’s Mad Nanna: Mad Nanna take Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground concept of the ‘chord solo’ to the point of single chord stasis, with broken major chords over expiring single note leads that are as weepy and brokedown as anything from The Shadow Ring while playing in a time-staggering mode that touches on the rhythmic revolutions of The Shaggs, Abner Jay and Kousokuya. This live set is a particular stone, with the group on particularly hypnotic form, with a lolling third-eye style that is pure cough syrup and a connection to country blues that feels more ‘authentic’ than a cowboy hat and a cod-piece. If you ever wanted to hear The Velvet Underground’s Ocean played at ¼ speed by a brass-less Maher Shalal Hash Baz while really irritating teenage girls talk in the background and transport you to the end-of-term dance date of your dreams, well, here it is! Already sold out at source.
Mole House tape
More great jams from this inspired Australian underground ‘supergroup’ that features members of Mad Nanna and White Woods: the combined energies of the two units succeed in birthing a profound garage/pop hybrid that combines frail, stumbling guitar/percussion moves with an irresistible faraway pop edge, like a more deconstructed take on the early Flying Nun sound. The use of ‘wrong’ notes never sounded so right, as vocals that come over like a sing-song kiwi take on Darren Harris’s vocals in The Shadow Ring (wait, does that not make em The Kiwi Animal?) lend pathos to perfectly constructed two chord folk/pop instants that take a leaf out of the Pip Proud songbook before inexplicably cutting dead or spooling into dead tape hiss. Throw in some inspired International Pop Underground cassettes and we’re ready to party like its 1988. Another beauty.
Tim Coster- Ocean Liner tape
Profoundly beautiful new work from NZ sound artist Tim Coster, now resident in Australia: recorded at home in Melbourne in April/May of 2012 Ocean Liner presents two pieces that combine grainy keyboard constructs with edge-of-the-world fidelity and the kind of dreamtone sleight-of-hand that comes across as an Xpressway-damaged Andrew Chalk. Think the second Harmonia album played via the Jazzfinger sound system or Asmus Tietchens plays Two Daughters, hallucinatory/melancholy keyboard music beamed from another world. Haven’t heard anything that’s less than stellar from this guy and this is another primo release to add to the pile.
a grand review of the moffarfarrah record:
Moffarfarrah – Thread Bare 7” EP (Albert’s Basement)
More needless evidence of how low the improv-noise bar has dropped over the past 15 years. This Moffarfarrah gurgles, baby talks, and vocal-fries his way through two sides of pointless microphone, digital delay pedal and voice improv that sounds like it was recorded clandestinely, at a whispery “don’t-wake-the-roommate” volume level. Just because it’s easy for everyone to record a noise EP doesn’t mean everyone should. To attempt to create something new and engaging with simple tools is an art not to be taken lightly. There are few winners, and everyone does not get a gold star for participating. In whatever case, this shit has all been done before, and a three-second Google search for Demetrios Stratos or Phil Minton might have pre-empted this record. Say what you will, but Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice was so much more compelling in concept and execution; Nondor Nevai’s A Capella Cantata infinitely more entertaining on all conceivable levels. Presented to you on thicker vinyl than it deserves, wrapped in a poorly folded 8.5×11 sheet of paper with illegible text, and “dedicated to everyone who has lived.” Mercifully limited to 300 copies. -Adam MacGregor, Still Single
Some reviews from ‘Put The Music In It’s Coffin’, find the actual blog here: http://ptmiic.blogspot.com.au/
Girls Girls Girls S/T CS (Albert’s Basement)
Human beings are truly a despicable lot. If you possess the capacity to contemplate your own life and death, you hardly got any choice but to look out for no. one. I think they call it “evolution” or “survival tactics” or something. You can either acknowledge this, do nothing about it and go on fending for yourself in a rather open manner, recognize it and attempt to be at least somewhat sympathetic of others’ needs while trying to get your own little slice of tha Pie, or pretend you don’t believe in this basic tenant of human nature and navigate your environment like a giant singing ass hat whose (probably) rich hippy parents ingrained in them a sense of entitlement and faux-compassion. None of this relates to this cassette at all; I don’t know the members of Mad Nanna personally but I imagine they’d be somewhere along the lines of #2, which seems to be the most desirable option in my eyes. I just feel like I gotta write something else in here beside a description of the music since lately PtMiiC feels like a perpetual Mad Nanna cheer leading squad. Look, I like this band, so here’s their newest offering: It’s a live cassette, as text on the inside suggests, recorded at the performance listed above. The sound produced from the magnetic tape when you press play on your deck includes a smattering of ‘Nanna favorites, played in a surprisingly straight-faced manner for this group. We get what, by my count, is the third live take of “If I Don’t Sleep Tonight,” but it still sounds fresh to these ears. “I Made Blood Better” also makes it’s (at least) third appearance, sputtering about like The Good Missionaries on a bad day. The closing number sounds new to me and fades into tape hiss just as it’s getting gone. Here’s to hoping that one sees the light of day in proper format soon enough. Through listening it’s become apparent that the players in Mad Nanna are fairly competent at their instruments, making the thin strands of music [sic] they’ve exhibited on previous releases seem that much more antagonistic. I mean, it was obvious the drummer had some chops from the LP, but here we find the whole band cookin’ at full steam, though at times it seems a little too together. I imagine this is the go-to release these guys play for family members who ask to hear their band, but it’s still about as comfortable as watching a Fernando Arrabal flick with said family member afterwards, so pull the trigger if ‘ya got one I’d say.
Reviews taken from the Scum Mecca column in Crawlspace..
Tim Coster – Ocean Liner CS (Albert’s Basement)
After a string of solo releases on his own Fictitious Sighs imprint, as well as numerous collabs both on FS and other labels, Ocean Liner continues the understated minimalism of New Zealand transplant Tim Coster’s previous work. The title track drifts along in a pleasantly amnesiatic state that will appeal to those with an ear attuned to the likes of Schulze’s or Shnitzler’s more subdued pieces. Here Coster deals in restrained synthesised modulations, effectively complimented with subtle keyboard tones before abruptly ending mid-drift. The second track, ‘Two Adjacent Pavilions’, comprises minimal guitar sounds, murky tape hiss and occasional bleeps, making a slightly less engaging, if decisively incongruent departure from the a-side.
FFEHRO – Easy Listening For The Chemically Challenged CS (Albert’s Basement)
FFEHRO, shorthand for Forks For Eyes Head Orchestra. The first movement is an excessively fried, too-long-in-the-sun style hallucination. Things quickly degenerate from here. In-between clatter and radio abounds. Cutlery as percussion, record warp as music, flickering melody as intoxicant. Psychedelic industrial noise. Must be heard to be seen. Really, what would you expect from Toowoomba.
Mu – Live CS (Albert’s Basement)
Mu is a recently anointed duo comprised of Mickey (Mad Nanna, Silk Ears) and Hugh (Nun, Constant Mongrel). Rather than the more rock-based moves of their other ventures, Mu sees them both finding zen in the outer reaches of noise. Following a quick succession of untitled releases, this short affair (same track on both sides) follows a similar trajectory of experiments in pure microphone feedback, vocals and electronics. The piece begins as a steady, warped bass loop with feedback shrieks prodding in and out, before building steam and becoming fully immersive with the introduction of a Casio beat and garbled vocals. Reminds me of some of the more zoned-out aspects of the Shadow Ring combined with the production value of SPK’s Live At The Crypt. Gripping stuff.
TIM COSTER – OCEAN LINER (cassette by Albert’s Basement) *Vital Weekly review
Tim Coster also has been around for quite some time, and his music was released on his own label CLaudia, and the last one, ‘A Place In The Sun’ on Fictitious Sighs (see Vital Weekly 807) – small world or what? On ‘Ocean Liner’ he continues to explore the stylistic approach of that release, in two pieces, which last about ten minutes each. Repeating loops of organ like sounds, maybe also very slow and soft modular synth or sine waves. Again seemingly random, but quite nice, with all those things shifting in and out phase. Here too we have a cosmic sort of feel to the music, ambient perhaps, but also a bit of modern composition – say very early Steve Reich. Highly minimal and most lovable. (FdW)
Byron Coley reviews Silk Ears cassette in his Size Matters column in The Wire-
Moffarfarrah review on American review column Yellow Green Red:
Moffarfarrah Thread Bare 7″ (Albert’s Basement)
If every record I bought sounded like Moffarfarrah’s Thread Bare, I’d die a happy man. An insane, sputtering, brain-damaged man, but a happy one nonetheless. Both of these tracks seem to be entirely vocal-based: “Skeletal” is the sound of mouth-farts, raspberries, gibberish and amateur beatboxing, all run through various effects. It’s like an even more pointless Menstruation Sisters, and I could listen to it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “T-shirt” is a little more organic, with what sounds like nothing more than three idiots and a microphone, just going at it ’til they pass out. They kinda lose me when the one guy whinnies like a horse and then follows it with some Beaker-esque meeping, but I’m sure I deserved it. Seriously, don’t buy this thinking I’m abstractly describing some crazy-sounding post-punk group… Moffarfarrah is nothing more than wordless vocal buffoonery and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Moffarfarrah review from Byron Coley in The Wire,
Pissypaw\Weirding Module review from Byron Hayes at Digitalis,
The Albert’s Basement imprint seems dedicated to documenting the Australian sub-underground, and they’re fighting a winning battle one rare artifact at a time. For this short spool, they’ve dedicated a side to Melbourne’s ultra-new Pissypaw with the other being graced by an American known as Weirding Module (Michael Troutman, ex-Awesome Colour). Each act contributes a single track that clocks in at around 8 1/2 minutes. Pissypaw’s offering starts off in a stuttering drum machine mode before fading into loops of guitar effects bliss. Mysteriously airy and barely recognizable vocals (is that a language switch mid-way through?) float just above the drifting tones of the guitar. The ‘bedroom psych’ feeling emanating from this track is inescapable. Weirding Module, on the other hand, has his feet rooted deep in a tangle of electronics. A crafty, static-adorned drone is the platter on which laser beams and the Doppler effect are served. Racing back and forth across a circuit board has never sounded so good!
Muura review from Eggy Records,
Muura – Untitled 7″ – Albert’s Basement
Believe me, I love Eddy Current as much as the next guy, but as the Australian Invasion continues to go strong (see also: Woollen Kits/Woolen Men tour 2012), I’ve really been digging the darker, weirder corners of Oceania that have come to light as a result. Generally speaking, a big salute goes to Albert’s Basement for unearthing and funding a lot of the great stuff that has crossed my ears, and specifically speaking, I have a few copies of their latest release, this mysterious 7″ by Muura, one Matt Earle from Brisbane. A very personal record, not in a heart-on-sleeve kind of way, but to put this record on is to step into a world of it’s own musical logic, a world foreign but also comforting. Two sides of hushed, murky distortion, organ and tape hiss somehow making it to one’s ears from a faraway place. No melodies, no lyrics, but not drone music either. Strange and gentle despite the blasted fidelity. Not a record for everyone, but some of us will cherish it as our secret.
NB: two kinds of art for this 7″, one full color and very hand-made very much in the style of old-school Not Not Fun releases, the other B&W photocopied, only have one of the full-colors.
Mad Nanna 7″ review from Eggy Records,
Mad Nanna – I’ve Been Talking 7″ – Little Big Chief
Two Garbage and the Flowers-style stoned strummers from the excellent Mad Nanna, different versions of tracks that are on the Goaty Tape (“I’ve Been Talking” and “I Made Blood Better”). This is actually an American reissue of the 7″, which originally came out on Albert’s Basement and sold out quite briskly. So big ups for Little Big Chief for stepping up and making it available again — the AB edition was actually my introduction to the band, and in the distant future when all of our cassettes are warbley and broken (I didn’t say that) I will be very happy to have this little gem of wax to spin on the turntable. Seriously guys, weird, excellent music on vinyl is the best. It takes balls to release it and you will be comforted to own it.
Mad Nanna 7″ review from Still Single,
“I’ve Been Talking,” someone in Mad Nanna moans, and he sounds rather apologetic about the fact. He needn’t be. Sure, this Australian outfit sounds like someone captured Michael Morley fronting a couple less-enabled Hanley brothers with a classic tin-cans-and-shoelace recording set-up, but you gotta give ‘em credit – they used virgin laces. “I Made Blood Better” isn’t so fancy; wayward yawp, bluesy guitar scrub, stolid beat, and a laugh at the end that says they don’t care what we think. They’re right not to care. 300 copies, turns at 33 RPMs, looks like the sleeve was photocopied but I’m not sure that it was. Nowadays this kind of scuzz isn’t necessary – it’s a statement. Consider yourself schooled. (http://littlebigchiefrecords.blogspot.com)
Muura review on the siltblog-
Listenin to this 7″ from Muura reminds me of the time I tried to make Merzbow mow my yard. Well, it weren’t mine exactly, but that’s a long story, anyway, the point is he HATED bein asked to do ANYTHING. But there’s no free ride on the Roland Woodbe express. You shoulda seen him; we walked down to the shed, I pointed to the mower, explained how to start it & showed approx. where to go & how much needed cut. Don’t you know turned on his heel & stomped back to the house? Marched himself up the stairs ‘n commenced to assemble his amps ‘n noisemakers then proceeded to kicked up this squall’ve feedback that was just incredible! Oh brother, he was MAD! I could barely hear it over the roar of the Toro but what came through was direct, primal & heartfelt. All’s of which takes me back to this Muura record. There’s even passages on here where I swear I can hear some Moondog tugs in the harbor. Good crack this is & a handsome sleeve to boot.
Muura review in Wire Mag..
September Singles Round-Up in Agit Reader
by Kevin J. Elliott….So many singles have come through the door this month, it’s impossible to keep up. I took the totalitarian approach to reviews in September, whittled the pile down, and subsequently am writing about my top three. Each of these is special in their own unique way, and each represents a point on the map you’re likely not to travel to any time soon. What that says about the state of Primitive Futures? I’m not entirely sure. Keep ’em coming and I promise you’re in the queue. That is, unless you get booted from the turntable in the first 30 seconds. These kept spinning.
Mad Nanna, “I’ve Been Talking” (Albert’s Basement/Little Big Chief)
If there’s a winner in this month’s trio of singles, it comes from Victoria, Australia, and the peculiar case of Mad Nanna. Before finally getting a hold this worldly gem thanks to a domestic repress via Little Big Chief Records, I was treated to an entire tape of the mysterious Mad Nanna. It was pure “press record on the four-track” living room abstraction, but within that amateurish veneer there was some quiet genius middling about. This single is boiled down to a digestible moment among their likely long hours of taped sessions, but the quartet remains just freaky enough to make the experience simultaneously disorienting and increasingly endearing. “I’ve Been Talking” doesn’t even remotely resemble the current ring of Down Under bummer-punk. It has the lazy, haze-induced drawl that defines most of those bands, but there is simply no lineage or time-stamp or photographic evidence that could place them among that dope-sick wreckage. These guys have their heads about them, even if it sounds like they are zombie in-patients banging around on third-hand equipment. I’m reminded more of Jandek and Shrimper cassettes or the absolute germs of New Zealand’s underground (back in the day). You know, the “we don’t know our instruments, but we know how to use them” methodology. “I Made Blood Better,” the B-side, recoils even further into lo-fidelity (the A-side is a live epiphany apparently), coming up in the end like what might happen should the Shadow Ring decide that mocking Westing-era Pavement was a good career choice for them. This can only get better and better.
Highlights include “Animals Hidden in the Waist High Grass” by Zack Kouns which is a five track, 35 minutes CDR prepared for an Australian tour in 2010. Zack present some interesting experimental weird folk here; acoustic metal stringed guitar, electronic sounds and (possible) viola, some vocals. Sometimes other instruments are added. Next in line is “Cassette” (which actually I think is titled “Sifting Through”) by Tom Hall. Tom plays the banjo. He improvises. Five tracks, 5 – 9 minutes. Reminds me of another experimental banjo album, “Hymnprovisations for banjo” by Daniel A.I.U. Higgs. Banjo is a bit like accordion, a not too common instrument (unless you’re not living in the Appalachian Mountains) – and if you don’t hate it, it could be interesting. This is interesting. Then there’s “Deja What?” by Blank Realm. Psychedelic music from Brisbane, sometimes in a pop direction, sometime in an avant-garde ditto. The music is very diverse, from Blue Cheer to a touch of Hawkwind. Heavy wah-wahs, spooky vocals. Yeah.
“Franco-Prussian Fillets” is a cassette by Francis Plagne from Melbourne. 26 sketches, ideas, melodies, fragments, most of them shorter than 2 minutes. Kind of Eno, when he still kept time limits short, or maybe even some charming moments of Fred Frith ca. “Step Across the Border”. I love the collage feeling of the music. Hugely inventive and varied music and even though the shortness can sometimes be frustrating it’s also its strength; like a good poem or haiku it leaves you thoughtful and curious. This cassette album is a delightful surprise and I hope it’s not too limited so many people can capture it. Should be a LP reissue according to me. Another cassette release: Pissypaw/Weirding Module “Split”. One track each, both of them about 8½ minutes long. Pissypaw is the duo of Olle Holmberg and David Mutch. ‘Samtiden’ consists of a heavy, monotone keyboard loop, kind of Suicide, over which a mumbling melody is sung. I like its unpolished surface, the rough edge. It’s a good track. Second is Weirding Module (a.k.a. Michael Troutman) with ‘Dimension 1.7’, a mostly ambient piece filled with various electronic devices (if there is weird folk maybe we also should invent weird ambient – and if so, this is it!). No vocals, but also an interesting piece of music. Next up: “Untitled”, a 7” Single by Muura. Noise and buzzes, industrial drones and creepy vocals from far away. Muura (a.k.a. Matt Early) is another experimental issue from Brisbane. Lo fi, of course, but no matter the sound quality, there is a strict construction of the pieces, especially the B side track. Maybe not something I would die for, but definitely interesting and it makes me want to hear more from this guy.
Finally for now, “Your Colla, the Colour of Mounds” by Various Artists, a 19-track compilation with artists known and unknown from the label and more. It’s far from commercial, but much more accessible than many of the releases mentioned above. Weird pop maybe, a bit like Albert’s Basement’s version of Cherry Red’s classic “Pillows & Prayers” compilation. No matter what, I think it’s the most attractive and appealing album from the big Albert’s Basement package. All of the above available from: ( www.albertsbasement.net )
mad nanna 7″ review on Foxy Digitalis..
Sometimes I wonder if there’s a contest among contemporary independent musicians to record the lowest fidelity record possible.
It’s not like Melbourne, Australia noise import Mad Nanna (Alberts Basement) is the lowest-fi band out there; hell, they recorded their debut single “I”ve Been Talking” onto 4-track tape. However, their release thoroughly relies on its recording entrapment, and the result is a pure product of its own environment and technology (in that regard, it is exactly the same as and the complete inverse of Sgt. Pepper’s). Where Mad Nanna shine is their recognition that lo-fi releases suggest a full aesthetic, and their hand assembled artwork (including handwritten notes on school paper!) nicely accompanies this 7″.
Both songs feature ridiculously laissez-faire chord sequences and riffs, utilizing mostly clean instrumentation. Believe it or not, keeping their listener from diving through piles of unrelenting fuzz actually allows their recording technology to shine. The A-side is repetitive beyond belief — I couldn’t count how many times the group’s lazy lead drawl says “I’ve been talk-ing” throughout the song — and the B-side is as abrupt as the flipside is repetitive.
No hooks here, pure tape haze drives minimal, meandering instrumentation to create a record that is strangely atmospheric without any sense of ambiance or space. At once impenetrable and rickety, this extremely laid back single stands as a statement of pure garage rock reduction. 6\10
mess and noise reviews:
Mad Nanna (7”, Alberts Basement, 2011)
This Melbourne group – whose fluid line-up seems to revolve around one Michael Zukicki – sounds like Jandek singing in a room to himself while Vincent over the Sink fiddles around in the corner. ‘I’ve Been Talking’ was recorded live at the Empress but it sounds like the band was sleeping on the job. ‘I Made Blood Better’ picks up the pace a little, bravely maintaining an average of one-chord per minute. There’s a kinda voyeuristic aura to Mad Nanna – it sounds like the audio diaries of a psych-ward incumbent – but it’s this sense of intimate access to the unstable that makes this debut such a compulsive listen, and given the variety between these two tracks it’ll be fun to see how much more Zukicki’s crew has to offer. Here’s hoping they learn nothing between now and the next record.
Neckliner (Cassette, Alberts Basement, 2011)
Wherein this Brisbane group, whose selling point is that they create their own instruments, transcend their status as mere-curio and become a band you’ll want to listen to more than once. The emergence of vocals helps, with Sarah Byrne’s sometimes shouty/sometimes moaning/sometimes crooning(!) vocalisations pushing some moments here into Pel Mel territory, albeit ones brought to life with speaker box bass and “leg horns”, rather than anything you can buy at Billy Hyde. Hopefully this will get a proper CD or vinyl release at some point because this deserves more than a run of 100 tapes. You can dance and sing along to this, which is a welcome development indeed. Experimental pop where the “experimental” pretence is gloriously beside the point.
Negative Guest List review:
Muura review from volcanic tongue:
“Stunning new 7” (plays at 33) from Matt Earle of Breakdance The Dawn/Craft Bandits/xNoBBQx etc….with individually handmade sleeves. As with a lot of Matt’s work, it’s difficult to work out what he is actually doing here, though there are spurts of free percussion, alternately scratchy/ululating eternal drones, factory sounds ala Joe Jones, deformed, endlessly echoed vocals that sound like they’re being recorded from the bottom of a well… the second side is more recognisably based around amp destruction and guitar abuse with waves of crude feedback interrupted by percussive guitar wrangling ala The Dead C at their most extended (think the coda from “Outside”). No one makes rock music that is quite as unrecognisably fucked up and satisfyingly alien as Matt Earle and this is another righteous fist up the wazoo of musical conservatives everywhere. Recommended.”
From Byron Coley out of size matters in the wire- Sky Needle\Mad Nanna reviews-
Mad Nanna review on the Siltblog..
Before rock-fluff wimps had to codify it as a genre so they’s & other likeminded weakings could come to terms w/the phenomenon known as Guided By Voices (primarily), ‘Lo-Fi’ was just an accepted outlet of expression. It didn’t need no definition, it weren’t a miracle, simply, it was just another anonymous workin stiff in the musical milieu. Some’s referred to it as DIY, but that acronym was usually slotted for UK bands from a specific era. Shamblin, theadbare, amateurish, these was all traits what could be associated w/self released records ‘n bands, even now. But since the mid/late 90’s, ‘Lo-Fi’ has become alternately both a blessin & a blight when it comes to Pop consciousness. By it’s very existence it has suffered (both pro ‘n con) the idiocy (& fools) of musical gentrification. It can’t just BE, it has to BE SPECIFIC. Branded if you will, the final insult. It is the way of the world, you can’t get around it. Well, one can, but they’d have to come live here with me. Which one can’t. ‘Cause if that happened, they’d soon disappear & unlike “Lo-Fi’ the chances of anyone ever hearin from you again would be nil.So go put that in your Fader ‘n smoke it.
Lordy me! Am I ridin a high horse or what? Must’ve gotten up on the wrong side’ve the hammock today. But it ain’t like I’m spoutin bullshit. I reckon the worst part’ve the whole business is how now you’s got bands tryin to purposely sound shoddy cause they’s think it’s hip. But what do I know? I’m an island dweller & couldn’t give a goddamn about any of it. I like what’s I like cause I like it. How’s that for defined?
And you’s know who else’s of the same mind? Mad Nanna. They’s function in the Albert’s Basement universe down to Victoria, Australia ‘n the spuzz they’s released on this 7″ is a dandy. Even in a country w/a scene that’s blowin up like the Oz one is, still ain’t no one what sounds like’em. Imagine if that band, Even As We Speak was struck by lightnin & on account, forgot all’s they ever knew. Upon relearnin to play, they’s used a cassette recordin of File Under Pop’s 7” for inspiration which went beyond therapy ‘n became THE GOAL. It also kinda sounds like a Falling Spikes bootleg what had been caked w/mud & laquered onto vinyl. Definitely Lo-Fi, doubtfully hip. No matter, it’s still a glass what’s half full of life’s lemonade that’s sweeter’n a Soave spritzer. Glug, glug, glug.
Alberts Basement No Cat
Killer 7” from this Melbourne-based group who marry Shadow Ring-style narcoleptic rock with a Shaggs-play-The Clean feel, mainlining extended pop jams into downer dirges that would re-think The Velvet Underground’s “We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together” as a monochord descension complete with the regulation post-Fall Oz style vocals. Hand-numbered edition of 200 copies with hand-written insert. Recommended! -Volcanic Tongue
Alberts Basement AB-25
Hand-numbered edition of 100 copies cassette from this great Brisbane quartet who play toy and homemade instruments with alla the mystery and elan of Harry Partch’s song-studies or the first two Godz LPs. Featuring Joel Stern and Sarah Byrne of Greg Boring, Byrne’s vocals get all the way out into the kind of post-tongue vectors of Amy Sheffer or Patty Waters while the group dunt and rock behind her, confusing fourth world timbres with punk primitive chops and really odd/hypnotic sound structures. Pretty singular: if the latest incarnation of ESP-Disk really knew what they were doing they’d snap these guys up for a full-length. Recommended. -Volcanic Tongue
Your Colla The Colour Of Mounds
The more cluey among you may be aware of Alberts Basement, a kinda-record label, kinda-distro, kinda-group of friends that sells releases out of a bedroom in Northcote. Their latest offering is a compilation cassette/CD mysteriously titled Your Colla The Colour Of Mounds. I’ve considered namedropping somewhat relevant hipster genres like ‘shitgaze’ or ‘chillwave’, but really the only way to describe the music inside is really, really weird. Listening to it, the whole thing makes me feel uncomfortable, like I’m experiencing something that wasn’t really meant for me to hear; the music is completely abstract, but at the same time feels eerily familiar. It’s like the musical equivalent of watching a Japanese horror film, except you never get to see the ghost. Contributing to this release are a plethora of international underground buzz bands (Jeans Wilder, Dirty Beaches, Pink Priest), as well as new stuff from brilliant local acts (Seagull, Scratchplate, Oscar Vicente Slorach-Thorn). This album flows staggeringly well, amazing for a compilation, and is by far best experienced in one sitting. This is difficult music, and by no means for everyone, but those of you who want to will be able to find a copy. Highly recommended.
Lost Animal “demo” – review by Tape Hiss
New tape for the side project that enveloped Jarrod Quarrel’s desire to continue with St Helens, who released a reasonably convincing album of inner-city Melbourne bummer bitch rock music last year before imploding. I enjoyed St Helens live, but there’s something far more involving with the Lost Animal show. He seems very uncomfortable and agitated with what is happening, the music is generally never loud enough to match his voice (he’s playing it through an mp3 player is why), and the audience is generally too loud for the band. But it’s unique and engaging: essentially a crooner lounge sound that often throws out Suicide as a reference point. Jarrod drags each syllable out for as much as it’ll allow, something like Dylan though lacking the nasally tone so it ain’t too obvious. This is a 4 track demo tape on Albert’s Basement, one of the most prolific tape labels in Melbourne’s cassette rennaisance.
Would be great to hear this with real live instruments pounding around that voice. This demo really teases with a muted recording. I’d love to hear the drums punch harder and the synth lines to hold space in the air for a while.
Words From Siltblog – about the LPs..
I can’t speak for the youths of today, but not that long ago if one was to get embroiled in a jaw about Australian Punk & whathaveyou’s, you’d more times than not find yrself listenin to gab about Radio Birdman, Saints, Scientists, Birthday Party, maybe even SPK if someone in the room was sportin leather jodhpurs. And there weren’t nothin wrong (Grong?) about that, in fact, only a fool would deny any their high placement in a fanboy’s peckin order. But the country’s scene burned bright from all corners left of the dial, whether it bein the aforementioned or equally lethal, yet more obscure talents that lay just beneath the untamed savannah. The recent M Squared boxset released by Vinyl On Demand is a good example, but also great cd comps from recent yrs past such as Can’t Stop It!, Murder Punk & Shakedown (to name a few) have archived/revived the shambling, twee, art damaged, erratic, eccentric, punk, post & puh sounds of yore, stitchin together a between the lines history of the continent’s teeming cesspool of talent. And it’s just kept rollin, I mean, the names have changed, but the OZ underground seems as formidable as ever. Tons’ve bands, lot’s’ve small labels, hell, most is even takin the plunge & gettin vinyl out (again). So when I seen these 2 comps listed on the Tedium House site, I was more than intrigued. Released on an upstart label called Albert’s Basement & documentin the vibrant Melbourne scene, they’s simply called ‘02.06.07 & ‘The Warm Cupboard’. The emphasis (on 02.06.07 esp.) is post twee, bedroom pop (recorded live to computer in said boudoir) of a distinct K variety, but the overall joi de vivre of the thing reminds me of old faves like ‘Alive In The Living Room’ & maybe even the X/pressway Pileup cassette, seein as how new & excitin all that seemed at the time. There’s a fragile unsteadiness to all the performers,yet the needles get thread but good & the recording is standup for all. Not to cast stones, but as jinky as Extreme Wheeze’s ode to Scrubs is, it don’t come close to Meatus Murder’s opus roast to said drama (just sayin is all. And givin props to Meatus Murder, I mean, who’s talkin about them anymore?). If your go-to box’ve vinyl includes the early Go Betweens, Particles or Cannanes, yr gonna want this pronto. Comes in a cool, handpainted jacket, insert for followin along, all’s that’s missin is some vegan recipe cards.
Entry deux-The Warm Cupboard-is more posh in sound as well as contributors. At least on this one I knowed a few of the dropins ( Hi God People, Fabulous Diamonds at least). This one lacks the cuddly kitten cuteness of the previous release, but I think that’s called variety. Since this one is tracks supplied by the various bands, it’s an oddsbodikins of hoo’s & howls. There’s even a couple of pro soundin indie blingers that should have Pitchfork plinkers doin pecker pogo’s when they discover this , on their own of course. Some cool instrumental swirls & squiggles via Free Choice & Aux Assembly that almost sound like they could’ve been culled from long lost Innocent Records masters & the last band, Bleak Infinity bring it all home w/some mangy blather that sounds like a Royal Trux/Magic Markers freestyle. And of course the tracks w/Hi God’s & Fab D’s. Perhaps not as ear poppin as the ‘02.06.07’ one but no less entertainin. And the price is right, so why not spring for both? The cover on this’un ain’t as bode neither, but the insert has hand drawn abstracts to keep’em individualized, so there.
Yep, lots doin in Lager Land & we’ll see where Alberts Basement goes from here. One of these days I gotta get down theres & check it out for myself, but until then, it’s ears only at;
Pink Priest “infant tape” – review from jon lorenz/digitalis
Pink Priest is the project of some guy who lives in Arkansas. Clues lead me to believe his name is William Cody Watson, but it seems like that could even be a fake name to hide his real identity. Either way we can just call him Pink Priest. Pink Priest makes dense drones using synth, voice, or whatever else he wants to throw in the mix. On “Infant Tape” Pink Priest creates dark, blown out synth drones that fill your mind with nothingness. With titles like “Chrome Skull,” “Dead Sun,” Sleep Forever,” and “I Was Gone a While, But Now I’m Back” you get the picture.
This tape is full of distant hums, waves of white noise, and dark moans. The only problem with the tape is the deep wall between you and the sounds being made. “Infant Tape” is full of reverb and blown out to the point that it becomes hard to really connect with the music being made. If you happen to hear any of Pink Priest’s other releases or maybe take the time to check out his myspace you will see that many of his records sound quite a bit different from one another so maybe this one isn’t the best Pink Priest release to start with. To get an idea of what Pink Priest is really capable of check out the song “Field of Orgasms” on his myspace page, it is set to be featured on a new Digitalis release. 4/10
Oscar Vincent Slorach-Thorn cd – review from andrew murdoch/digitalis online mag
Whoa. The cover art of a little kid, probably around 8, looking kinda spooked in front of a wall that has two prominent skulls on the cover seemed sort of misleading. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but opener “Closed Horn” was brutal in some total Skaters vibe with heavy, heavy synth work. According to the liner notes the original horn parts on “Closed Horn” were played by Ruby Green and Max Reiss, but you would be hard pressed to find what actually sounds like horns on that thing.
Third track “Twilight Girl” is more what I expected from the cover, equal parts acoustic instruments and digital programming. Wouldn’t be out of place on something like a Beta Band demo or something. It’s nice enough. “Spinning Chair” gets back to the tape loops that seem to be the genesis of this project. Coming from a more bedroom psych approach to loops, but not too far removed from the mid-period loopiness of Smegma. On “Poly toy” he branches out into some really lovely ambient-with-action synthesizer work.
This is a great definition of “crowd pleaser”. Sure to find something that every member of the family can enjoy. 8/10