Mess Esque is a new collaboration between Mick Turner (of The Dirty Three), and Helen Franzmann, who releases music under the name McKisko. The duo’s album “Dream #12” was recorded remotely between Naarm (Melbourne) where Turner lives, and Meanjin (Brisbane) where Franzmann lives, over the course of 2020. The first track shared ahead of the 2 April release is the transcendentally sparse and beautifully fractured lullaby “Big Old Blue”.

“Dream #12” by Mess Esque is the 6th release in a series from Bedroom Suck Records featuring limited LP runs of music made in isolation during the various Covid19 pandemic lockdowns in Australia during 2020, which shut down music performance and collaborations for much of the year.

Mick Turner was writing music that he felt needed lyrics, and the pairing with McKisko (Franzmann) provides the perfect lyrical and vocal foil for the loose tangle of lightly strummed and picked notes of Turner’s typically understated guitar playing style.

It’s possible (or perhaps unavoidable) to imagine Franzmann’s late-night (quite literally) vocals as a hushed and intimate vocal take on the kind of emotionally-charged melodic flight that Warren Ellis’s violin would take were this a Turner tune for The Dirty Three.

“Big Old Blue” takes the combination of guitar and voice and adds further subtle layers of keyboards, minimal drum pulse, and a bit of brass and woodwind relish. It all adds up to something special that is at once low-key and sleepy, while also quietly euphoric, heavenly and moving.

While you are on McKisko’s Bandcamp to listen to Mess Esque, it is well worthwhile exploring the McKisko catalogue too.