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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

New Weird Australia is a series of free downloadable albums compiled by Stuart Buchanan and Danny Jumpertz, the team who also present the show of the same name on Sydney’s FBi radio. The naming draws inspiration from the New Weird America moniker (in turn influenced by Old Weird America), which loosely categorises a range of alternative musics such as the neo-folk stylings of Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart; the psychedelic jams of the No Neck Blues Band and The Sunburned Hand of Man; and the laptop-folk fusions of CocoRosie and the Animal Collective plus more. Boldly borrowed by Buchanan and Jumpertz, the Australian usage is a little more expansive incorporating electronica, contemporary classical, lo-fi electronics and laptop experimentations that dwell on the outer edges of the ‘alternative mainstream’. Two compilations have been released so far, with the third due in November and already they are exposing listeners to some great hidden treasures—from artists well known in experimental circles, and from fresh discoveries—with an impressive Australia-wide representation.

Interestingly there is a subtle difference in the range of styles between Volumes One and Two. The first compiled by Stuart Buchanan alone (renowned for his previous International Music radio program, Fat Planet), offers a wider scope of weirdness for this listener. It ranges from Pimmon’s finely detailed crackle, hiss and hum on “On The Other Hand This Carbon Fire Is (Flammable)”, to “Heartburn”, the lengthy (13mins) energetic, angular impro by Predrag Delibasich on soprano saxophone with band. In between we get a gorgeously climactic piano and drum séance from Telafonica’s “Time and Distance”; electroclash-cute with mind boggling lyrics and intricately glitched up rhythms from Loom’s “Snail Shell”; Raven’s dark, propelling beats with mellow strings in “Presumption #1”; and Anonymeye’s shimmering bluegrass guitar morphings in “If At First You Don't Secede...”. Mass choruses made popular by bands such as the Animal Collective and Tunng are definitely in fashion on this volume, with some exploring the area well, such as Lessons in Time – “Those Plastic Street Signs Are Not To Be Followed”, and others descending into urban primitive noodlings that make you skip on second listen. The choral epiphany on Kyü’s “Sunny in Splodges” with its epic massed military drum crescendo and close harmony, multi-tracked wailing is simply magical. Expect Kyü to be plucked from the obscurity of weirdness sometime soon.

Volume Two is co-selected by Buchanan and Danny Jumpertz and steers away from the Freak Folk that is influencing Volume One, into the territory of exploratory electronica and ambient. Some of this is pretty much what we expect from electronica—which is not bad, just perhaps more neatly classifiable. Broken Chip’s “Summer Stars” offers pleasing glassy ripples and Björky-clockwork multi-rhythms. There is a similar machinic style, overlayed with a more militaristic drum exploration in Sam Price’s compelling “Auto Hackney”. Kharkov’s “Crustacean” keeps edgy by drifting swathes of sharpish tones over a subtle propulsion while Mieli’s fat beats of “Hometime”, though finely produced, offered me no weirdness at all.

The burning question Volume Two raises is why do I find some of this fairly standard electronic music (not weird), and some more worthy of the title? Cock Safari’s “8MH” pushes the barriers with off-kilter nagging loops of sampled psychedelic rock that satisfies in its lo-fi exuberance. Similarly the crunchiness of Maddest Kings Alive’s “Measels”, with joyous 8bit-sounding arpeggios, keeps it in edgier terrain. The more satisfyingly weird tracks are by Oceans, Transmissions, Panoptique Electrical and Splendid Fields which offer more challenging timbral palletes, and if using beats, don’t rely on them as the unifying structure of the piece. However several of these are rather short, as though afraid of testing the listener too much.

William Gardiner’s “Sonance Arboreal” is a stand-out, not only as it is from the more contemporary classical end of town, but also because its Minimalist tuned percussion sequences, choral drifts and sparse piano lines are powerfully emotive. As is my favourite track on Volume Two, Paul Fiocco’s “Torsions and Drifts”, a 13-minute, microscopically detailed field recording of walking through shifting terrain accompanied by dark and haunting drones—disturbingly visceral.

Listening to the two collections in search of the definitive ‘weirdness’ becomes agitating and perhaps is not in the spirit of the venture. In the introductory notes Stuart Buchanan states “Neither popular nor alternative, neither one genre nor another, New Weird Australia represents a new breed of Australian musicians that find refuge in the space between us.” And on the whole it does, in an indefinable way.

Perhaps it is not the ‘Weird’ that is so important as the “Australia’ part of the naming. These styles of music are already in the alternative mainstream with reasonably large fan-bases and niche airplay, but it is still primarily the international artists who are foregrounded. What these compilations achieve, along with the associated radio program (and several others on FBi), is to bring to light some of the more interesting and innovative Australian artists who are also making challenging and chewy music across a range of genres. I’m looking forward to Volume 3.
Gail Priest

Free download available from
New Weird Australia radio program, Thursdays 9-11pm, FBi 94.5 FM, and is streamable.

© Gail Priest; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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