Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Can't Hear The Wire For The Wood - 10 Releases

New Weird Australia is an Australian institution that champions this continent’s more left of field experimental artists, branching out from a mere radio program on Sydney’s FBi station to become a beacon of ambition and exploration. This year they have opened up into a record label too, albeit a digital one, called Wood & Wire. They have close to ten releases out already, and with another due out this month I thought it best to do a small feature on these albums – because there are some amazing gems here.

The first four releases were released simultaneously back in June. Inter Alia was the first, and the third from drumming maelstrom Peon. Fusing jazz improv (which may be a catalyst of The Necks’ Lloyd Swanton joining the duo) and almost subliminal electronic manipulations with ritualistic rhythmic patterns, Peon create a sinuous sojourn through the echoing halls of psych mantra.

Peon - Io

Chocolate Syrup is the debut of Sydney’s Emily Grantham. Playing with form within the electronic genre (Grantham studies composition), Chocolate Syrup is an experiment in chopped up waves of metallic sheen, soaring from ear to ear like an electric shock, whilst her almost-childlike vocals shifts in and out of the robotic dissonance. Its equal parts the future-pop, and the stuff of nightmares. Monster’s rave.

Emily Grantham – Coconut Flesh

Bok Darklord is like an industrial obsessed Doctor Who whose only weapons are sonic awareness and common sense. Aiming to eradicate Metallica and Lou Reed’s abomination Lulu, the same-titled record here is skewered on a bilious fist of liquid dominance – it hurts, sure, but this cavity search is the enema that the whole world needed.

BOK Darklord – The View

Another debut, this time the self-titled Machine Death LP. Penned by its creators as New Wave Sludgecore, Machine Death is fairly brutal, with the whisper of melody trying vainly to smash through a static wall of distorted viscera. Fuck Buttons would be proud.

Machine Death – Carried On A Wave

Solid opening, no? The next two releases are just as good. WW #5 is しSD, the self-titled debut EP from 19 year old Canberra-based Felix Idle (しSD is pronounced Shisd, which is how I will refer to him as from now on…or maybe the tech-core Prince…) Juggling hip-hop rhythmic aesthetics with undulating musical arrangements, and collaborator Cape North’s vocals wafting in and out of the mix, adding and subtracting harmony and texture like the turns of the tide. This kid sounds like he knows what he’s doing – but he is learning as he goes. The power of these songs is dulled only by the knowledge that his next foray into sonic manipulation promises so much more.

Shisd – Canyon
Shisd – Bay Wash

Stacey Wilson isn’t a stranger – her work with Terrible Truths and especially her own Rites Wild moniker have made ripples across the globe. Regional Curse sees Wilson donning the solo guise in the form of a cowl made of tar, and third LP Natural Living has noise oozing from every pore. Since starting out making cassettes of her explorations, she has utilised home-made electronic drums and a malfunctioning looper pedal. Refracted through pervasive themes of ascension and natural progression, Regional Curse marks itself as an arbiter of isolation and vice, hidden away in the scum-soaked hovels of paranoiac mind. Desolation reigns here – yet it never has sounded this sleek.

Regional Curse – Best Believe

Onto the next two Wood & Wire releases. Sydney’s Joshua Gibbs offers a vibrant experimental EP in I’ll Be Good under the guise of Setec. Whisking away into a rustic parallel world of refracted lights and cascading gamma rays, woollen jackets and snow blindness, the looping and graceful percussive interlay on display, along with Gibbs’ great vocals, evokes likeminded sonic slicers such as Cornelius (especially on the title track, and is a comparison that is likely to be made quite often I reckon) and the Avalanches (see ‘Vowel of Owl’ – hey, we may as well ask for someone to take the mantle that the Avalanches are unable to fill). A magical ride that ends too soon – keep your eye on this lad.

Setec – I’ll Be Good
Setec – Vowel Of Owl

From Perth comes Laura Jane Lowther and her electronic project Kučka. This self-titled EP is intent on eschewing normal notions of electro pop, instead trying to colour the furtive outer regions, neither aggressive nor reticent; neither glossy nor gritty. These arrangements expand and contract like a psychotropic headswell; Alice In Wonderland in cyberpunk sound-byte form. Tying it all together is Lowther’s plinking vocals, somewhere between Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki and Alison Goldfrapp, a skittish yet ominous mist, a dark seduction threatening to swallow you whole.

Kučka – i

The final two releases are from Sydney based producer fm and Melbourne’s Automating. fm’s EP Buttons uses analog, digital & video game equipment to create an amalgamation of artificial electronic pop that is unsettling in its apparent lack of human emotion. This feels like computer music, made by a computer, when coming home to seduce another computer, which as an end product is weirdly alluring.

fm - Maise

In some ways Automating’s effort Somnambulist is the most ambitious of this incredibly ambitious brace of releases. Comprised of 18 tracks that investigate the stasis and psyche of sleep-states, hypnagogia and hypnopompia via field recordings, found sound, tape manipulation, noise and effects units, the end result of Somnambulist is the interior score to a technologically-obsessed paranoiac (there’s that word again…). I honestly found myself going a little crazy whilst listening to it, it invades the skull so completely. This, combined with vivid imagery due to the inventive use of the field recordings, paints a garish vista of modern societal nightmares akin to Todd Haynes’ Safe or Darren Aronofsky’s Pi. Even Lost Highway plagued my mind. Now I love these films, but I don’t want them fusing with my mind – God, I can see the Mystery Man’s eyes upon me! Seriously, this is an incredible trip. I'm not sure I’d recommend taking drugs whilst watching this one…

Automating – Rosetta Stone
Automating – Synaptic Transmission

There are two more on their way – expect to hear more soon. Until then, head over here to divulge in some exciting otherworldly delights – it’s a brave new world.

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