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sound/music CD reviews

 Da Contents H2

May 1 2013
Jon Rose

April 3 2013
zephyr quartet
a rain from the shadows

July 17 2012
the wired lab
wired open day 2009

May 22 2012
ros bandt, johannes s sistermanns

March 20 2012
new weird australia editions: thomas williams vs scissor lock, spartak
jewelz & nippon

October 25 2011
avantwhatever label collection
gulbenkoglu gorfinkel; ben byrne; alex white; ivan lysiak

May 24 2011
disintegration: mutation

May 10 2011
blip (jim denley, mike majkowksi)

listen to the weather

March 22 2011
difference engine

November 22 2010
artefacts of australian experimental music volume II 1974-1983

September 20 2010
clocked out
the wide alley

September 7 2010
clocked out
foreign objects

August 23 2010
matt chaumont

July 26 2010
sky needle
time hammer

May 10 2010
mike majkowski
ink on paper

November 6 2009
new weird australia vols 1 & 2

October 26 2009
clare cooper & chris abrahams
germ studies

July 17 2009
erdem helvacioglu
wounded breath

rice corpse
mrs rice

April 28 2009
james rushford

joel stern
objects, masks, props

January 22 2009
loren chasse
the footpath

mark cauvin

December 12 2007
the splinter orchestra

October 24 2007
artefacts of australian experimental music 1930-1973

August 28 2007
akathistos fragments


various artists produced by le tuan hung; dindy vaughan
on the wings of a butterfly: cross-cultural music by australian composers; up the creek

May 1 2006
ai yamamoto

camilla hannan
more songs about factories

found: quantity of sheep

philip brophy

rod cooper

December 1 2005
anthony pateras
mutant theatre

December 1 2005
charlie charlie & will guthrie
la respiration des saintes & building blocks

dj olive

new belief system

jodi rose & guest artists
singing bridges: vibrations/variations

lawrence english

lawrence english
ghost towns

michael j schumacher
room pieces

robin fox
backscatter dvd


the necks
mosquito/see through

tim o'dwyer
multiple repeat

guns, cars & guitars

warp: various artists
warp vision: the videos 1989-2004

zane trow
for those who hear actual voices


artefacts of australian experimental music volume II 1974-1983 artefacts of australian experimental music volume II 1974-1983
Shame File Music SHAM056

Three years after the release of Volume I (which covered the years 1930-1973), Melbourne-based writer, artist and historian Clinton Green has produced a second compilation documenting Australian experimental musical activity. Covering the period from 1974 to 1983 it represents a vastly different economic, political, aesthetic and technological landscape from its predecessor: disillusionment with the 60s countercultural “revolution,” the fallout from the Whitlam dismissal, the emergent punk/post-punk nexus and the increasing availability of electronic equipment are all evident within these recordings. As such, it is a conduit into a not-so-distant past, albeit one that Ian Andrews, as quoted in the liner notes, described as “the lost decade.” Without any pretence of being exhaustive (let alone conclusive), the pieces and artists that Green has selected, along with his copious liner notes, are an attempt to rectify this situation; not only for students of the era, but for anyone interested in experimental arts practices in this country and in music in general.

There are a couple of factors that distinguish the music found on Volume II from the earlier compilation, one of which might be summed up in the phrase “less Cage, more collage.” Where previously adventurous composers had cleaved closely to the edicts of pre-eminent American composer John Cage, by the 1970s many of the precepts of “capital E” Experimental music—aleatoric processes, indeterminacy, extra-musical sounds and improvisation—had been well and truly internalised by artists and audiences alike. This allowed for their redeployment both within and across aesthetic schemes that intersected with a variety of agendas, be they musical, technological or social. Early works by The Loop Orchestra, Severed Heads and Ian Hartley combine tape loops and cut up procedures, appropriation and electronic sounds, encountering musique concrète, pop, field recording and radio along the way. Performers in Ron Nagorcka’s Atom Bomb use toy instruments and domestic tape recorders in a live performance that builds into a multi-layered, multi-directional sound. Minimalist repetition is combined with pop music’s own forms of reductionism by Essendon Airport and tch, tch, tch/tsk, tsk tsk (the symbol that is the correct nomenclature being unreproducible here) before being pounded to pieces with noisy “anti-musical” fervour by The Primitive Calculators.

Secondly—and this pertains mainly to pieces from the 1970s—the relationship between artists, infrastructure and institutions is at times quite marked. Tristram Cary’s Soft Walls and other pieces by Carl Vine and Ros Bandt are recordings from an era when synthesizers were expensive items, and access to them was largely through university music departments, which would doubtless act as gatekeeper when it came to their use. As such these works present a more “classic” approach to electronic composition. In stark contrast is the Forced Audience project of Gary Warner that produced tape collage and appropriation works while operating outside the institutional system, which explicitly challenged the formal relationship between artist, audience and content. Although electronically generated and manipulated sound is far more prevalent on this set than the earlier volume (with the vast majority of pieces here overtly utilising electronics beyond recording), the economics and politics of using those technologies is manifest here both in the music and the means by which it is produced: the “do-it-yourself” credo so often attributed to the punk movement has been a perennial in experimental arts.

Apart from those already mentioned, works from a wide array of significant performers and composers are featured, among them Jon Rose, Ernie Althoff, Ian Andrews, Warren Burt and renowned Mebourne guitarist Dave Brown (in the group Signals, with David Wadelton and Chris Knowles). However, it’s the inclusion of more obscure acts such as Justinstink (Justin Butler), Voigt/465 and Purple Vulture Shit, along with soundtracks by Arthur Cantrill, the location recordings of Les Gilbert and the whirly instruments of Sarah Hopkins, that not only make this a valuable release, but helps to broaden our understandings of what constitutes experimental music in Australia.
Peter Blamey

© Peter Blamey; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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