Dave Graney mistLY

Recidivist Melbourne rock and roller Dave Graney and multi-instrumentalist Clare Moore have carved out careers as musicians over 4 decades, with The Moodists, Coral Snakes and beyond. “We Need a Champion” is from a recently released live album recorded on a 2017 UK tour where they played with Georgio Valentino on bass and Malcolm Ross (Josef K, Orange Juice) on electric guitar. We all need a champion right now.

Graney and Moore were in Melbourne “garage jazz-punk” band The Moodists from 1978 to 1986. The Moodists also included Mick Turner (subsequently The Dirty Three) and moved to London around the same time as fellow Melbourne band The Birthday Party.

Line-up changes saw Graney and Moore joined by two former Orange Juice members (David McClymont and Malcolm Ross) before The Moodists split, re-grouping as The Coral Snakes in London and back in Melbourne from 1987-1997.

Following the Coral Snakes came the Royal Dave Graney Show and Lurid Yellow Mist, subsequently abbreviated to the mistLY… which brings us up to date, and to this song, “We Need a Champion”, which was originally released on the 2012 Dave Graney & the MistLY album “You’ve Been In My Mind”.

[As an aside, Ross and Moore here also appear in Kylie Minogue’s band on Australian TV when she was promoting her “Impossible Princess” album. They play on this clip of the Kylie-does-“Madchester”-“Baggy” single “Some Kind of Bliss”]

Keep listening after “We Need a Champion” for a version of the classic louche lounge rock of “Night of the Wolverine” too, the stone-cold fair-dinkum Coral Snakes’ classic Australian rock’n’roll song. Graney’s a storyteller and an entertainer, his songs often inhabited with characters and detailed retelling of incidents, imaginary or true.

Another more recent favourite is “Everything was Legendary With Robert” (from his 2014 “Fearful Wiggings” album) introduced with the warning “It’s got nothing to do with Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens OK. I don’t want to hear anything more about them, alright?”

Graney and Moore are working musicians, frequently on the road, playing here there and everywhere. The COVID19 pandemic has clipped their wings, but they have managed to maintain a live schedule of sorts with performances every Thursday 8pm AEST via Stageit.com

Sui Zhen

Sui Zhen (pronounced Sue-ee Chen) is an experimental pop and performance artist based in Melbourne, Australia.  Becky Sui Zhen Freeman’s music, videos, and performance art explores the intersections between human life and technology – how to exist in the digital age, and the ways in which we risk losing true sight of ourselves in the process. “Another Life” is the opening track of the album “Losing, Linda” released in September last year.

“Another Life” is a soulful slice of experimental electronic music full of subtle dub effects, setting out aspects of the sense of dislocation of human experience in a digital world. During the COVID19 pandemic lockdown people experience the world and connections with other humans remotely through digital devices via the internet, so this ‘new normal’, makes the story told throughout the uneasy futuristic emotional and musical landscape of “Losing, Linda” even more relevant.

 

Mikey Young

With Melbourne recently going into full pandemic lockdown again I figured PopLib should be focusing on some Melbourne artists. There’s plenty PopLib has featured over the years. Most seem to be recorded and/or mastered by Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring). So I had a look to see if he had any solo music on Bandcamp. Not sure what I was expecting but was pretty certain it would be some kind of guitar-based garage rock, not an album of synth instrumentals. It’s great, so here’s “Socks”:

Young is a keyboard and guitar player and Total Control are a kind of lo-fi-ish synth-punk band (in a kind of Gary Numan meets Swell Maps kind of way) so the synth pop vibe of his solo album isn’t too out of character.

There’s another solo Mikey Young release on Melbourne Label Hobbies Galore called “You Feelin’ Me?”, which is a bit more guitar-based and a grainy collection of lo-fi ambient instrumentals, kind of like an op shop Eno.

To find out more about Mikey Young and his recording and mastering approach there’s a highly entertaining Tape Op interview where you will find gems of wisdom like this:

“I always thought that if you can’t record the song well that you want to record in three goes, then you shouldn’t be recording the song. Especially for a kind of garage rock song. You don’t even want to get it perfect. It hardly gets any better after the third take.”

 

 

Noveller 2020Noveller is Sarah Lipstate, a composer/ creator of cinematic soundscapes using guitar and effect/ loop pedals. The most recent Noveller album “Arrow” was released in June, and it’s an immersive adventure in sound.

“Pattern Recognition” is the most overt guitar-sounding track here, as the rest of the album is more texture and sound layers created from bowed, looped, effect-saturated guitar-generated sounds.

The music on “Arrow” works on multiple levels – cinematic soundtracks, ambient music, futuristic soundscapes, experimental instrumental guitar (post-)rock, even instrumental dream-pop. Although guitar-generated it feels more like a relative of mid-70s Tangerine Dream circa “Phaedra” than anything else.

Reading interviews with Lipstate its apparent there’s an organic creation process involved, seeing where the sounds take the music. It’s something Holger Czukay (see previous+1 PopLib post) would understand and approve of. As he explained in a 2009 interview “you could say that I use randomness, chance. Classical composers were searching for the music, but what they didn’t realise is that sometimes the music is also searching for you.” 

 

 

Tough Age on tour 2018Tough Age are from Toronto, Ontario in Canada, this song title is a reference to Melbourne, Australia band Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and bassist/vocalist Penny Clark sings “I want to be signed to Flying Nun” and “I’ve never been to New Zealand, but if you sign me I’ll go every week.” Are you confused yet?

Sure enough there’s a stereotype Flying Nun guitar jangling guitar strum energy going on here. However, on the evidence of the three tracks shared ahead of the release of the latest Tough Age album, there seems to be as much influence from US outfits The Feelies and Jonathon Richman & the Modern Lovers in that ramalama strumming, as well as the Australian band referenced in the title of this song.

Presumably the desire expressed in this song is to be signed to the mythical 1980s free-form version of the label. There’s no scruffy jangling guitar rock released on Flying Nun Records these days apart from the 80s album re-issues.

Still, this weird, confusing international link up does show how far the idea and influence of the label, or to be more accurate the idea and influence of The Clean, traveled and is still travelling. The best evidence of the influence of The Clean on Tough Age comes in this glorious standalone song “Waiting Here” released in January:

In 2014, not long before the New Musical Express (NME) withered from its physical form altogether, the UK music magazine ran a feature on Flying Nun Records called “Songs in the Kiwi of Life”  with the introduction: “Founded in the early 80’s, New Zealand’s greatest ever indie label Flying Nun Records created a magical roster of bands whose Dunedin Sound continues to exert an influence today…” 

The magazine wasn’t available in Dunedin so no-one could read what it was about. However, some local Dunedin musicians took their default opposition position on what they assumed would be an oldies yawnfest about decades old music regardless.

Sure, there was a bit of that of course in telling the story of the label, but the main angle of the feature observed the label and some of the music it released through the eyes and ears of young people creating music today, and featured UK and US musicians (from Parquet Courts, Veronica Falls etc.) explaining how the music had influenced them.

The young NME writer April Welsh already had some serious Flying Nun nerd credentials too, having previously published a fanzine tribute to the label (still available to read as an Issuu online edition here), further demonstrating the influence of that “magical roster” of Antipodean oddities on a new generation of music lovers.

So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that reverberations about the label as we hear from Toronto band Tough Age are still rippling around the musical world, and even getting conflated with Australian bands (perhaps) at the same time.

[Thanks to Bandcampsnoop for the Tough Age tip-off.]

Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay was a founding member of German experimental rock band Can. In addition to playing those hypnotic motorik bass grooves, Czukay was the recording engineer for Can, and an early adopter of ‘sampled’ collage sounds, recorded to tape from shortwave radio broadcasts and other sources, edited and manipulated by hand in those pre-digital days, woven into the music assembled by Czukay from hours of improvised music creation.

Beyond Can Czukay recorded several ‘solo’ albums – often in conjunction with Can human drum machine Jaki Liebezeit – and collaborations with other musicians. One of those collaborations was with David Sylvian, producing two albums “Plight & Premonition” (1988) and “Flux + Mutability” (1989). These albums were recently re-issued on a double LP on the Grönland label. Sadly there’s no Bandcamp presence for the label, BUT, searching for Holger Czukay on Bandcamp did turn up this fine Claremont Editions compilation called “Claremont 56 versions 2009-2017” from which “In Space” here is taken:

“In Space” was released on a Claremont 12″ single in 2011. It’s close in spirit to the music on the two album collaboration with Sylvian, a morphing dream-state ambient soundscape, built upon layers of looped percussion, and punctuated by crystaline guitar melodies, and the random ghostly smudges of sampled sounds.

Czukay died in September 2017 aged 79 in Weilerswist (near Köln) in Germany.  It’s still relatively easy to track down the Can catalogue, but a bit more work is required to track down the solo recordings and collaborations should you wish to explore the music of this avant-garde, ambient, experimental music innovator further.

Vanessa Worm

Vanessa Worm originated in the Dunedin underground electronic/ experimental scene that coagulated around the now defunct None Gallery performance space. A move to Melbourne and EP releases on Glasgow’s Optimo dance label followed and now there’s a first album just released, called “Vanessa 77”. Here’s “Satisfaction” from the album:

There is a highly individual non-conformist ‘punk’ element to the music and performance. “Satisfaction” is one of the more ‘regular’ tracks on the album, coming across like Kruder & Dorfmeister re-mixing mid 1970s Can fronted by a demonically-possessed Grace Jones.

To say the album is all over the place is an understatement. The opening tracks are formed on guitar before being dragged backwards towards the thump of electronic dance beats and an ominous tolling bell (send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee as John Donne wrote some 500 years ago).

The music has bucketloads of variety and character and Worm’s unconventional vocalising ranges from mouth-sound-effect oddness to a kind of electronic punk sneer.  I guess you could call the music “electronic” or “dance” or “industrial” or “experimental” but it’s not going to fit in any comfortable singular genre.

The music on “Vanessa 77” has more in common with boundary-pushing weirdos of the post-punk avant garde music art scene – a bit of dancefloor Throbbing Gristle malevolence here, some fried Fred Frith guitar deconstruction there. For all those reasons and more it’s gloriously, subversively great.

“Vanessa 77” is available on LP on Glasgow dance music label Optimo Music with mailorder via Boomkat.

Brigid DawsonFormer Oh Sees collaborator Brigid Dawson has just released her first solo album, “Ballet of Apes”, under the name of Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network. It’s work of transcendental psychedelic jazz & experimental pop oddness, as “The Fool” here demonstrates:

“The Fool” may be familiar to Thee Oh Sees completists as a song from the recent OCS album “Memory of a Cut Off Head”.  But here the song gains an unpredictable energy as it winds along on wonky keyboards, fluttering drums and popping bass runs until it all falls apart in a natural way at the end as the drums trip over themselves.

Musically “The Fool” here reminds me of a mellow stoned kind of take on the odd-pop jamming by 4 members of Faust playing on the first Slapp Happy album “Sort Of” while Dawson’s voice soars on melodic updrafts.

The album “Ballet of Apes” is an equally impressive and original mix of the under-explored confluence of jazz, folk, and psychedelic pop. It has a relaxed and darkly cinematic feel, with minimal arrangements in which often unlikely instruments carry the melodies. There’s nothing safe or mainstream about the album. Experimental, timeless and unconventional in places, yet it’s a very approachable and accessible collection that rewards repeated listens.

The album was recorded in front rooms and rehearsal spaces over three locations – in Rye, Victoria Australia with Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control), San Francisco, California with Mike Donovan (Sic Alps) and Eric Bauer, and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn New York with Jon Erickson and The Sunwatchers and draws upon that range of musical talents as well as Dawson’s own garage-psych rock history with Thee Oh Sees and its quieter psych-folk alter-ego OCS.

 

 

 

 

Bailter Space

Bailterspace is back in 2020. Mysterious emissions via a Bandcamp account. Old songs. New Songs. Live stuff. The latest offering is Delta. “Is this new as well? What could it all possibly mean?” they ask. Well, if they don’t know, how are we meant to know…?

“Delta”, like the other new tunes, is kind of minimal, but everything feels dangerously coiled, as if it could explode at any time. Possibly demo-ish, unfinished, work-in-progress, or maybe fully-formed. Who knows? *

It has all the component parts of Bailterspace songs though. Clanging mechanical guitar chop, pneumatic drums, ominous earth-moving bass chords, a searing blast of distorted, saturated guitar noise, and sweetly melodic, drifting, sleepy, enigmatic vocals.“It’s like a turquiose dream, that’s just what it seems”. Post-industrial dream-pop psychedelia?

A reminder, if required, that for all the crushing sonic intensity of the Bailterspace sound, it’s the melodies that are the heart and soul of their songs.

[* Turns out “Delta” was a track from a new album called “Concret”… the original track this post initially linked to was removed by the band so the link about now goes to “Delta” on the album now. It’s a great collection of typically crunchy noise, but also a bit more of a post-punk edge. Enjoy.]

Bailterspace 1997

 

Roulettes

Auckland band Roulettes have released a new EP of gloriously melodic guitar rock called “Rocket to You”, dedicated to Andrew Brough (The Orange, Straitjacket Fits, Bike) who died in February, at the start of this very strange and darkly dislocated year. Tempting as it is to play the title track, which somehow manages to combine hints of Bolan’s T Rex and The Beatles, it’s “Ordinary Glories” that perhaps channels the greatest Brough-factor.

Roulettes are Justin McLean and Ben Grant with help on this EP from Davey Porter on Drums and Damon Grant on various instruments.

“Ordinary Glories” is born out of a period of reflection and loss. “When you lose someone you love you look back and realise that all relationships are finite. What seemed mundane and ordinary was in fact all too brief. Ordinary glories are the moments you spent together, never to be reclaimed, that are now memories to return to“ McLean explains.

Members of Roulettes, and contributors to the EP recordings, are geographically spread around Oceania and South-East Asia meaning the EP was recorded in three locations just before pandemic lockdown took hold.

Each of the 5 songs (plus a remix of the title track) is a cracker of melodic, reflective guitar pop. It’s a fitting tribute to the kind of songwriting Andrew Brough was renowned for. Andrew was Justin Mclean’s stepbrother, and a musical mentor for bassist Ben Grant and Justin in their first band Funhouse in Dunedin in the 1990s, producing recordings and giving them invaluable advice.

The Roulettes duo of Justin McLean and Ben Grant is augmented for a Dunedin show at the Crown on 11 July by drummer Darren Stedman (The Verlaines, The Prophet Hens) and bassist Tenzin Mullen (Heka, The David Lynch Mob)