Monday 30 September 2013

Getting Boned On The Beach, GB Style

It seems that garage punk mania with a predilection for beach and blunt paraphernalia is not prescribed solely by countries with a high percentage of sun. London's Boneyards released their Rest In Beach 7" on Strong Island Recordings back in May (well, the English summer was approaching - not really surf's up though), and it's four songs of fuzz-blown raucous ridiculousness. Regardless of its origins, this sound is pretty hammered, yet intrinsically fun - you can get pretty loose with these tracks blasting your brain matter all over the common. That said, I only really listen to one song over and over - 'Rip It Up', where the yelp in the last third that spits out a frenetic outro is irresistible. The kids'll dig it - the rest'll stay for the leftover beers, bongs, beer bongs and occasional nods to true punk stalwarts. Let's see what else we'll find in the boneyard...

NB - Boneyards just released this dirty shitstorm, 'Vega Chain', today - and the dirtier these dudes dig, the blacker the gold they hit. Fuck Wavves off and mine these shitcore speaker shredders - this is where the winners are at...

Grab Rest In Beach here.

Contemplating Bernays' Propaganda

Bernays Propaganda is the reason the Internet was invented.

Seriously, how else would I have fallen in with Zabraneta Planeta, the third record from the Macedonian rock band? The band's moniker comes from the Austrian pioneer of propaganda and crowd control (and nephew of Sigmund Freud), Edward Bernays - already pretty rad. The entire album is sung in Macedonian (I think?), but the angular monstrosities on offer, combining with the honeyed timbre of Kristina Gorovska's spiked vocals, makes the language barrier irrelevant. Brutal, brittle post punk anxieties blasted out with political fervour. I saw some awesome bands in the former Yugoslav region when I travelled around there in 2009 (more on that soon), but I didn't discover these guys - the interweb gods have made amends. Grab it on vinyl here for ten Euros.

Doubly (L)Amped

I'm in Bundaberg this week. Actually, I'm about an hour inland from Bundaberg, but I was on the beach at Bagara yesterday, eating ice cream, drinking alcohols other than rum and generally being awesome, and hitting the sugar cane capital again on Wednesday. That's me hanging out with a giant man made turtle. Go me. But while I'm here why not wax lyrical about a cool band from up here, then tenuously link it to a garage punk band from Southend-on Sea. Why not indeed.

Tabletop Lamps are an unknown quantity really - the trio have this EP out, Heatwave, have played at least one show in Bundaberg that friends of friends said was "awesome" - and that's pretty much it. Yet Heatwave is a bloody good soundbyte - five tracks of undulating, percolating, ambient motorik wooziness. if anyone can steer these dudes in my direction, I'd be muchly appreciated - the more these guys play good shows, the better the world will be.

Now as promised Ill ride this tenuous thread over to the Mother Country and to Drella, the 7" put out recently by Wobbly Lamps (SEE? OH THE CONNECTIONS). A coagulating mess of noise and fevered anxieties, Drella explodes with great disdain on opener 'Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever'; get dirty and sleazy with 'Haxan'; and climax (oh yeah) with 'Gretchin Fetchin', a rad and stormy psych swirl into the tumultuous unknown. Grab Drella here.

Go Bundaberg. Go Southend. Go lamps. Just go.

Taking Yuppies For A Ride

A bit of serendipity here. Yesterday I wrote about Boston's Sneeze; Sneeze played with Nebraskan band Yuppies; I receive the Yuppies album in the mail yesterday. We were meant to be...

Now Parquet Courts' Andy Savage has helped put out Yuppies’ debut eponymous album on his Dull Tools label, and it slays. The four-piece have crafted a record that has that febrile, unhinged energy that Savage's band harbours, but in the punk mentality of throttling a chord to within an inch of its life, seeing a song's lifespring slowly ebb away, Jack Begley's deadpan, acerbic vocals (reminiscent of Mr Dream) lurking in the dim streetlights, before the pressure is laid off the windpipe and everything coalesces into a vibrant upswing of violent glee. If these guys are yuppies, they are the slacker rock equivalent of Patrick Bateman. Excellent stuff - do yourself a favour and buy Yuppies here.

Friday 27 September 2013

Cannon Wanna Be With You Everywhere - Cool, No Worries (Friday Cover Up)

(pic by Glen Schanau)

Another day, another Brisbane band spitting out thrashy garage rock. The thing about five-headed monster Cannon is that no matter how well you capture them on tape, they never emulate the sloppy, unhinged nature with which they deliver live - yet latest EP It's Cool, No Worries certainly does its best. Recorded by Donnie Miller at Nowhere Audio, the instrumentation on these five tracks really highlight how deceptively tight the band can be - the guitar lines are finally discernible, and you start to figure out that there are actual defined songs underneath the mania. But as always it is impossible to deny the rabid presence of frontman Callan Murphy and his ranting, incomprehensible vocals. Penetrating out of the abyss, self-flagellating, the bark of a madman - Murphy's vocals will always divide audiences. The thing is, it's this sense of unbridled passion (even when seemingly delivered with apathy, and the casual tearing of the oesophagus) that truly marks out Cannon as different from the rest.

It's been a while since local imprint Bon Voyage have put their name to something, but It's Cool, No Worries has gotten their seal of approval - and fair dues. You can grab the 7" here. And seeing as this is a Friday, this release doubles as a Friday Cover up, as the EP closes with a ramshackle version of Fleetwood Mac's 'Everywhere' (it's the last track). Nuff said.

SONIC MASALA PRESENTS - Yes I'm Leaving/Thomas Covenant/Roku Music - TONIGHT!!!

That's right, it's time for another Sonic Masala Presents. At the Waiting Room we have Sydney rabble and one of the best live acts in the country Yes I'm Leaving finally bringing their excellent sophomore record Mission Bulb to your ears, in a set that CANNOT BE MISSED. They are dragging party boys Thomas Covenant up here with them, whilst the other support slot is being locked down by Brisbane shoegaze alchemists (and 2013 Australian Arts Council poster children) Roku Music. As always cover is a tenner, it's Bring Your Own alcoholic beverage/s, and kick off is at 8pm. Double thanks to Jacinta Sutton for the hand-drawn technicolour yawn dog poster! COME!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Sneezing Won't Kill You...Maybe

Boston, you continue to slay me. The "new" band to smash one into the bleachers - Sneeze. Well, their I'm Going To Kill Myself album(out through Midnight Werewolf Records, who also have the rad Kal Marks on their roster) has been around for over a year, but I came across their demo tape that they are taking on tour with them Stateside this month, tracks that will (hopefully) make it onto another LP slated for recording in November - and once again its loud, dissonant indie snot howls, echoing back to the future, the 90s afresh. Only one track breaches the three minute mark (which stands for their album too). It verges on grungy punk, is flagged by reams of flannelette and bile, it's dumb, it rocks.  They have a drawing of a Mogwai on their Facebook page. Seriously ticking all the boxes, guys.

If you are in Allston Massachusetts next Tuesday (October 1), you really should head to O'Brien's Pub to see Sneeze unload alongside Psychic Blood, Yuppies (both of which I will be posting about shortly) and Luau. You can pick up one of these bad boys while you're there...if any are left that is.

And here is the LP (which you can buy here)...

These Pure Monsters Follow The Dogs Out Of The Swamp

Back in 2010 the excellent and now sadly defunct Leeds label Brew release Call Me Dragon, the debut from freakoids These Monsters, and it was a diabolical mess of an album that absolutely killed me with its audacity, its dirge and its desire to go to the farther regions of sanity. The boys have only gotten looser (of mind and spirit at least - their musicianship continues to tighten the screws). It's been some time since I've heard the Yorkshire trio - they did release a new album, Heroic Dose, in May though which I somehow missed (*self-flagellate*) - and now Too Pure have sated the longing with a 7" of new recordings. The Swamp/The Dogs is a showcase of the band's burgeoning proclivity for stretching their maniacal, cartoonish dalliances with psychosis to breaking point, and beyond. It's like Pulled Apart By Horses got decidedly slower, weirder, and stoned-er. You can pick up the 7" (Thursday must be "Buy Red Vinyl" Day...) here...

Doomed By The Windhand

Clearly I'm loving my big riff noisy heaven this week. Windhand hail from Richmond. They aren't new - they have been driving the doomwagon for at least three years now - but their sophomore double-album Soma (out on Relapse Records - you can pick it up here in blood red vinyl no less) is the first thing I've ever heard from them. And damn it's good. In the first thirty seconds of the first song, 'Orchard', there is some heaving drum kicks, a dire dirge of a riff, and then we have the echoing seething wails crash over the top. It's all dark and melodramatic, but in the best way that doom-laden metal can be. True metal heads might disagree with me - this is veering into Black Sabbath territory, especially due to Dorthia Cottrell's vocals - but this album is pretty much go-to-woah killer.

Don't Palm The Novo's

I did an awesome interview with Leroy from Newcastle's finest/worst (I think it's the same thing) The Gooch Palms. Why? Because they are finally bringing out an LP. It's called NOVO's, which is shorthand for Novocastrians (the name given to people from Newcastle), and I think it's a derogatory slang. Don't be hatin' if I'm wrong - go the Newcastle Knights! Ahem. So yeah, this album coming out on Anti-Fade is pretty special. Now, live this duo (Leroy sings, plays guitar and gets nude) and Kat (stand up drums, sings) are a crazy bunch - it's the kind of manic performance that seems like it'll implode at any second, but underneath the sloppy exterior is a tightly calibrated machine of garage rock and soul. Yes, soul. Leroy may act the goat, but the dude has lungs - just listen to 'You' and wrap your head around the fact that it's a Gooch Palms stone cold original. The beauty of these two? They know their limitations, and are able to continually find ways to fidget and squirm within them, contorting and reforming into myriad sordid pop gems. They may not take over the world - indeed, they are more likely to get mugged for their bum bags and their Mariners commemorative T-shirts on the Hunter Street Mall - but they don't need global domination. They've got music, and beers, and each other. They'll see out their days content on the Gooch Farm -it's a true blue love story, strewth.

Grab NOVO's here. The Gooch Palms are launching the album in October, coming up here to play at Greenslopes Bowls Club (where Sonic Masala hosted Velcro and Hot Palms, yeah?) Saturday October 19. Oh, and the interview will be out soon, promise.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Hits From The Box #73 - The End Is Nigh

It has been a few weeks to try and digest the fact that this once great nation is doomed. Sure, I would be writing this Hits From The Box even if Labor had've been sworn in to run the country, as I hate Kevin Rudd sooooooo much, but Tony Abbott? REALLY? The Libs have some pretty awful ideas too - don't expect too much creative stimulation to happen over the next four years. But I don't want to get too political here. Instead, Ive chosen six bands that I think helps exemplify how I feel about the state of affairs. Hey, if music can't tell it like it is, what can?

The Wrong Man - well, this is a misnomer, really - the Kruddster was the lesser of two evils in many people's mind, yet I felt like he and Abbott proved that the Antichrist actually came in a pair. Nevertheless there had to be a better person to take the mantle? So let's leave it up to Brisbane's cantankerous one-man-garage-magnate (once sworn in as Fred Wood) and his six garrulous ditties he's released on Long Gone Records. 'Evil Mind' takes on a whole new meaning in this environment...

Tyranny Is Tyranny - again, it's all in the name. Doesn't matter what label you put on it, many policies here are blatant disregard for the welfare of the majority of the nation. The Wisconsin crew are ardent political subversives too, their raging tracks rife with baited vitriol. Let It Come From Whom It May (an apt title, and a mantra that might be a good one to take on...) is coming out on Phatry Records, you can pre-order it here.

Invisible Path - Who knows where the next four years will lead us, and whether we will make it out OK. At least Not Not Fun Records has us in a state of gauzy hypnosis in the form of Invisible Path's The Levitating Mirror. The project for Michael Bailey (ex-Barn Owl) is a lysergic sojourn into glossy midnight territory - the perfect soundtrack to slink in the shadows with your now hunted creatives. Seriously though, as tenuous as this link is, The Levitating Mirror is a bubbling masterclass in synth-entwined heart. I'm a big fan.

Huge Rat Attacks - OK, this is a bit of an erratic choice, but a friend of mine said only last week that she'd rather lie in a box filled with rats than be in the company of Abbott. That's a big call. But you do get a sense that there is a a sense of throwback urgency from this Minneapolis four-piece with a proclivity for dirge. They obviously like the subversive heaviness and absurdity that The Melvins bring to their craft, yet with a technicality more akin to Young Widows albeit with a more widespread stoner vibe - it's a pretty rad album, deserved of its own post if not for my friend's comment. Blame Illy.

Giga Herbs - and since we are staying tenuous, why not admit that it's going to take some alternate reality to get us through the upcoming battles? And what better thing to take us there than something of the herbal variety... The NY outcasts play almost straight-up indie pop, yet there is a simplistic Wayne Coyne/Nick Thorburn effect on much of these tracks that give it the tweak into the (mad) weird that we all want and need. Help us get away from here!

Overseas - so there is little we can do of course but rage against the machine, or find a way to work through it. Although another viable option is to simply get the fuck outta Dodge, something I am actually seriously contemplating. It also feels fitting that Overseas features one David Bazan - yes, the Pedro the Lion dude. If I have to flee the country like an inverse boat person that the Australian populace apparently hate so much, it may as well be with Bazan and his crew. So if the boat drowns, ill be blissfully unaware - and might get a five minute hate spot on Today Tonight. You can buy the self-titled album here.

Happy Wednesday everyone???

Scavenging Zigs & Zags

Out-of-control shredders Zig Zags have certainly done some shit in their two years as a band. Having released a few 7"s (one on Mexican Summer, believe it or not), a split with grinders The Shrine, a cassette on Burger Records and a collaboration with Iggy Pop, the LA trio show no signs on letting up the squalling fury. They have released their two sold-out singles 'Scavenger' and the most excellent 'Monster Wizard' on excellent German label Who Can You Trust?, and it's a stone cold slayer. Black Sabbath, the Stooges (obviously), Fu Manchu - the touchstones are loud, spun out and are set to kill.

You can buy Scavenger/Monster Wizard here.

Taking The Ancient Night Bus

Not too long ago I posted about 'Molokai', the first single from Melbourne psych-pop maestros The Ancients' forthcoming third album Night Bus (out through the inimitable Chapter Music). They now have a second release in 'Hey Now', and damn it is so much better! It's like Unknown Mortal Orchestra spent their winter in Scandinavia with Soundtrack Of Our Lives. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised - I haven't heard their first two records. But this had me absolutely in the Ancients camp - so warm, sepia-tinged and raucous in a fuzzy, overtly happy kinda way. They have a couple of shows coming up in October in Melbourne (including an in store at Polyester), but more importantly for Brisbane folks The Ancients are playing Black Bear Lodge Thursday December 5. Lotsa time to save the pennies and swim in the waters of adulation - seriously, this song has one hell of a hook.

INTERVIEW - Heinz Riegler (part 2)

Here is the second and final installation of the interview I conducted with Heinz Riegler on a sunny August afternoon at Jamie's Espresso. The focus here is on the Open Frame festival and its curator Lawrence English, and future projects.

SONIC MASALA – I’ll come back to this, but I wanted to briefly talk about Open Frame as well. You are playing with Francisco Lopez and Angel Eyes…what Lawrence does is amazing, and in a bizarre way I think it’s underappreciated? In what he is able to bring to Brisbane. It’s always been a situation that Brisbane has a “scene”, even when I arrived at the dying stages of the 20th century as a fresh-faced kid, it was still very much a Custard, even Not From There, type of environment, which of course was great and I appreciated it then, but thinking of that space then to now, seeing artists like Mark McGuire and Lopez, Benoit Piourlard and High Wolf – I couldn’t imagine such a thing happening ten years ago. Yet Lawrence and a few others like him are creating these pockets of existence, and I think that is amazing that Brisbane is a part of that.

HEINZ RIEGLERFor me to start talking about Lawrence and the work he is doing, his own output, what he is facilitating, I gush, I tend to go into these…I don’t want him to feel too good about himself (laughs). But I think what he brings to the table is outstanding and I feel – I have been friends with Lawrence for a long time and we’ve done work together in the past – every time he encourages me to make something to create something with him or through his channels, I'm very honoured and pleased to be working with him because I have an enormous amount of respect for the guy. If we talk about Open Frame and the events he brings to Brisbane, I think it’s…I remember seeing Chris Watson, who used to be Cabaret Voltaire a long time ago, and he does a lot of field recordings now, and manipulates them into quite musical pieces. I think it was an Open Frame at the Powerhouse (in 2009) – I remember sitting up there as the guy presented his work, and it was recordings coming from four speakers set out in the room, and the room was packed with people sitting on cushions. I went up to Lawrence after the show and told him “All these people? You made this thing happen, you’ve made it a consistent reality in Brisbane.” It’s a really wonderful thing that it happens in this town. It was the first time I realised that – here I go again, I don’t want to boost his ego – but he brings an enormous amount to this town. Anyone who is half interested in music or art would have to acknowledge that. And I'm not sure when you say underappreciated, because I haven’t been back here for that long, but I do go to his events and people seem to be embracing what he is bringing here…

SM – I guess I'm implying that in the current climate it still remains, he is lorded in the right channels, but you would certainly like to have a situation whereby the Open Frame Festival is openly celebrated in mainstream media. It is never going to be mainstream, but it’s another element to Brisbane that should be overtly embraced. I mean, those shows he puts on at the Powerhouse or over at the IMA (Institute of Modern Art in the Fortitude Valley)…I mean, he managed to bring Grouper to Brisbane, the only show she played in Australia – what a coup! And she played the exact opposite to what she has played in her entire career to date, much of which comes from her latest album (The Man Who Died In His Boat), and it polarised the audience – but that is the beauty and majesty of music, and it’s great that we can have it here in Podunk Brisbane.

HRYes! (laughs) When I hear that people would be disappointed in that performance, that it gets that kind of reaction, that this sort of music or creation, that they would not want to get caught up in a new stage from an artist, I thought that was the pop music world where people get upset when the artists doesn’t play the hits.

SM – (laughs) It was funny to see some of the reactions. I mean in fairness she did abjectly refuse to play anything that had defined her up to that point…

HRYeah, but it is still a disappointing response from people. I have seen shows with Lawrence, some of the early Room40 shows with artists like David Toop, Scanner; and we are talking about filling rooms in Brisbane, about making quite challenging work at times. I played at the Open Frame in London a couple years ago, and it was quite packed. So it isn’t just Brisbane, he is moving things on a global scale.

SM – When you see things written about Lawrence in publications like The Wire, that really excites me because often I even forget he is from Brisbane. He is certainly one of a kind but he is – I mean, I love Brisbane, for its weaknesses as much as for its strengths…

HRSo does he, you know…

SM – He is someone who is working outside of the slipstream of, well, I'm not going to say the Brisbane “scene”, that isn’t what I mean – so when I read about him and listen to his last actual album album, The Peregrine, then reading about it when travelling through Europe in various magazines and blogs, then his last couple of field recording releases (Songs Of The Living/Songs Of The Livedreviewed by us here)…

HRThere is a bit on there where he came up to the cabin with his wife actually.

SM – My favourite part from those recordings has nothing to do with field recordings per se, it’s the one where he’s captured the sound of one of his microphones falling over ('Microphone Collapsing Into Grass Sinclair Wetlands New Zealand'), and it’s this slow disintegration of sound, you feel this open space and because the mic is going into the ground, the grass, the dirt, and the rustling of Lawrence trying to set it back up again, I thought it was brilliant. This unguarded moment captured in audio. And it’s things like that that amazes me. But enough about Lawrence…

HRYeah, fuck Lawrence!

SM – (laughs) OK, well, I'm really intrigued to see where, with those few elements where you had the isolation of the Austrian Alps, from technology as well as from people, physical noise and mental noise, to doing this installation which funnily enough was indirectly impacted by the environment from the landslide anyway, another added moment, then Sleep Health designed to help you sleep – I get the sense that you don’t really pick and choose your projects, something just takes interest or suddenly appears and that becomes an obsession for a while?

HRIt’s an interesting kind of time for me. I have spent a great portion of the 2000s saying no to things, and feeling unable to complete things. It’s starting to over the past few years to say yes to almost everything that comes my way, within reason. I've chosen to say yes and it’s a remarkable thing that happens when you start doing that; you are taken out of thinking, you are put into positions that you otherwise wouldn’t be in, and there is something always imparted on you. I'm less concerned with the quality of the outcome as I am in putting myself into interesting situations. I'm less concerned about what stands at the end of that , but I don’t think I’ll have much time to consider that because I’ll be onto the next thing. Maybe one day I’ll make something really good, but maybe not, and it makes you really free. If you get glimpses of that, and avoid getting really anal about how something continues to sound like or looks like, if you are able to put yourself into a “well, it’s not that important or crucial’ thinking space, you become free in what you can and can’t do. A lot of fear falls away, and when the fear falls away you start to work on things that you otherwise wouldn’t have attempted and you may fail, but I may fall over and be dead in 24 hours, anything is possible. Fuck it.

SM – So what’s next?

HRI was going to be flying out of here pretty soon, but I think I'm going to be here for a couple of months extra, with a couple of projects coming to light that I’d really like to follow up on. I'm doing one show in Sydney and one in Melbourne to support these records that are coming out, and planning a couple of other site-specific things that may be happening here next year. The one really concrete thing is that I’ll be in Europe again for the winter, and a friend of mine who is an architect, he doesn’t really build things rather than follow the theory, and he teaches at Bauhaus, he’s a fascinating cat who happens to end up living in my hometown village and we reconnected. We did this thing a couple years ago. He is this really sought after guy so he always has these interns coming and going from all over Europe wanting to work in his office, and we all came up with this idea of having film work being displayed in some kind of architectural development that had been constructed out of snow and ice. We made this thing called -20 Degree Cinema, basically it tended to be a party for all of us, and we ended up sourcing some short films and video art, and architects designed this cinema in the open air, the seating was all built out of snow, there was a workshop kind of environment, and we had this screening of hours long of a bunch of shorts and video art. So we are doing that again, but this time we are wrapping it up a bit. I'm looking to have a life that is transient between Europe and Australia, so I will need things to do while I'm here and while I'm there that is the first thing, this strange hybrid festival built around architecture, film and video art.

SM – And that’ll be in your hometown again.

HRIt is, this tiny village in the Alps. There will be an open call for people to submit work, and it will expand in the sense that it won’t be a straight up 16 x 9 cinema screen, it’ll be more objects that will be projected on, maybe even projections from within objects…So that is concrete. There is already a project for early next year here in Australia for documenting the floods in Bundaberg with a photographer friend of mine Brad Marsellos that centres around North Bundaberg and the destruction centred around there. There’ll be a sound work for this in conjunction with some photography of his. That’s firming up also. My dream is to have an eternal winter – six months in Europe then six months here. Mainly so I miss the wretched heat here in Brisbane. We’ll see.


One other project that Riegler has on the go is artwork - he is launching Sisyphus/Unlearning. It will be at the same venue this interview took place, Jamie's Espresso, on Thursday October 3 from 6pm. 

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Younger Lemons

Fire Records are reissuing The Lemonheads' first three albums Hate Your Friends (1987), Creator (1988) and Lick (1989). Most people (myself included) don't credit the band for being anything other than the mainstream group we know and love (and of course Evan Dando's constant battle with various demons). It's refreshing to hear Ben Deily's punk snarl, and Dando's Mascis emasculation - kids just breaking out. Some of these songs, like 'Out', are discarded gems too. I have to say that these albums are pretty great, and I for one am pre-ordering them right now, you should too.

Beyond The Earthless Ages

If you have never seen San Diego trio Earthless, you haven't lived. Admittedly, when I try to explain what Earthless is I get a lot of despondent, disdainful, and in one case pissed off response. That's because they are essentially an instrumental jam band with massive guitar solos... But I don't know one person, regardless of their taste in music, that has come away from an Earthless show and not been irrevocably converted. No one plays like these fuckers do. But when you have one of the best guitarists ever in Isaiah Mitchell and one of the best drummers ever in Mario Rubalcaba, the calibre of shredding and thumping going on here is mind melting. Mike Eginton has the unenviable position of anchoring everything here, but really, the dude merely adds adamantium to these killer skeletons.

They are about to unless a new record, From The Ages, on Tee Pee Records, and my chin is still smarting from the giant slice I took out of it when it hit the floor. This is uncategorisable stuff, as in that this rocks so hard and remains hypnotic throughout when anyone - ANYONE - else would fuck this up in the first fifteen minutes - just strap yourself in for an hour of WTF mind expansion.

You can pre-order From The Ages here. Do it now - it'll be like GTA V for your ears.

No Anchoring The Dead

Not so local noisemongers No Anchor (Ian is being all literary-y and full of disdain in Melbourne these days) haven't been overly active in the live sense in 2013 (hence the electricity of their shows that have rolled around - the Sonic Masala show in May, the show they did only last week), but they do have some new wares courtesy of a split 7" they've put out with fellow maniacs DEAD. Perfect marriage this one - two bands blatantly fucking off the guitar and brutalising the bass. So far, so angry. Would you expect anything less? The NA trio feel 'Bogan Ash' is the poppiest thing they've ever done. They aren't reaching for the mascara and microphone headsets (yet), but as far as No Anchor goes, it is a much more straight down the line number. Sorry lads, but whilst this song really rips, it makes DEAD's whorling bloody maelstrom 'Scratching My Arts' look even better. Backhanded compliment? I can keep em comin all day. Its the kind of lurking leering head explosion that I absolutely love; Jem absolutely kills it on drums; my skin is flayed without notice. Well done, lads, well done.

No Anchor have one more show up their sleeve at the end of November at Crowbar. They will have the crazy up-and-comers Clowns in support - they eat Juggalos for breakfast. If you still need your NA fix in any form (and let's face it, who doesn't) Donnie's band Roku Music is supporting the sublime Sydneysiders Yes I'm Leaving this Friday at the Waiting Room - it's another Sonic Masala Presents show, so you should all be there. Finally, Roku Music and Greig (Alex's new band) are the other supports for what could very well be the best show of the year - The Nation Blue and Batpiss, also at Crowbar, on Saturday October 5. I have a wedding that day, so Ill be the dude in the suit. Pete from The Spinning Rooms has promised to spew on me too, so I should be pretty recognisable. No Anchor, in whatever form, rule hard.

INTERVIEW - Heinz Riegler (part 1)

About a month ago I was asked to do a brief 550 word interview with former frontman of Not From There and Nightstick and now solo sound explorer Heinz Riegler for The Music magazine (man, it still feels weird not saying Time Off!) about his upcoming cassette release Sleep Health and the show he was doing for Lawrence English's Open Frame festival (happened on the same night as Sonic Masala Presents' Pale Earth show a fortnight ago, unfortunately couldn't make it - from all reports it was incredible). What transpired was over an hour of discussion about art, site-specific music, field recordings, sound as therapy, sound as beauty, Room40 and Lawrence English, and lots more besides. I have cut it down some, but here is the first half of what was an enthralling conversation with a truly wonderful and interesting man.

SONIC MASALA – So what brings you back to Australian shores?

HEINZ RIEGLERThe making of a record is what’s brought me back to Australia this time. I did a collaboration with an artist friend of mine, Allyson Reynolds. I also did an artist’s residence up in the Blackall Ranges not far from the Montville, Maleny area, living on a farm for four months just working together, the outcome being this exhibition with her paintings and six channel audio work that I made. There is a vinyl made of that work too. I also have a tape coming out with Lawrence (English) and a show (with Francisco Lopez), so it seems like I’ve been busy, doesn’t it?

SM – Indeed! I will ask beforehand, before we get into the cassette, the idea of working with someone in a different medium, how do you find that? Do you copy one or the other’s work to an extent, putting it into your own context, where someone leads and the other follows?

HRIt kind of turned out a lot different than when we first talked about the idea. A couple of things happened, i.e. we were going to be in the same building where Allyson was going to paint in a room there and I was going to set up a studio in the next room, it was gonna be a lot more direct. But there was a landslide on the property meaning that the building which was going to be our studio, the whole family who lived on the property had to move into that, so Allyson had to rent a studio nearby and I had this little cabin that was on the land that was barely big enough for me to live in. so that collaboration ended up being quite verbal in the sense that I would make my work and we would discuss it. The idea for the project was that it would be informed by that land we were on, so both of our works were in indirect relation to this space that we inhabited. It was quite a new idea for me and for her, so the collaboration essentially took place over the breakfast and dinner table. We would look at what we had been doing, not so much in I would play her what I’d been doing or she would show me what she had been doing, that mutual stuff, but talking about our processes, thinking about where it was all heading, and those verbal exchanges went into our respective practices, and it all came together in the installation at the very end. I saw some of her work but she didn’t hear much of mine because I became quite insular there. So there was no collaboration of her hearing my work , it was all done in the realm of talking about the land, talking about the geological history of the land because it’s very dramatic kind of space where the whole area, the Blackall Ranges is all volcanic, it’s all on basalt. The hill on which I was staying, there is these exposed basalt columns. The way that lava cools is in these hexagonal shapes, these perfect geometrical hexagonal columns, and I was blown away by it. I was speaking to Lawrence, and he had written an essay for the book that is coming out in conjunction with the vinyl, an essay about the work from an outsider’s perspective, and he told me that there are people up in North Queensland that actually use these columns to generate sound from them. If they are the right size they can be “tuned” so to speak. So it’s been this really amazing, enjoyable process, these past two months. Having time to consider the work and having space to consider it in…

SM – Well landscape seems to be informing a lot of your work of recent times, hasn’t it?

HRYeah, it’s definitely a continuation of the last thing I worked on (Survey #2 - One Thousand Dreams I Never Had). I was lucky enough that my grandparents have a cabin up in the Austrian Alps, and recently that place had gotten electricity, a big electrical line had to be laid from one valley to the next that was actually going through this property of my grandparents, and they laid down the law saying “If you are going to do this, lay this massive cable across our land, then the least you can do is hook us up!” I was still in Australia when I found out about this, and after talking to my uncle said I’d really like to go up there for an extended period of time, in the middle of winter, two thousand metres above sea level, no humans – fantastic!

SM – Obviously that idea of interacting or being impressed upon by the landscapes is a major part (of the process), but even listening to your latest offering (Sleep Health), I get a sense that a lot of people that are engaged in either field recordings or sound collages seem to have this interaction with isolation, the idea of deliberately being insular and being set outside the hustle and bustle of urban living? Do you actually enjoy that element of it, deliberately isolating yourself when creating?

HRI have really enjoyed it, but it hasn’t come 100% easy either. I think I am an urban creature at heart, but I really needed to tune out a lot of noise. Not so much the city, but the Internet. I love technology and I love information and I love partaking in it, but I also found my patterns become increasingly driven by that thirst for that information, and being generationally positioned in the sense that I remember a time when emails didn’t exist when I first moved to Australia, and a minute on the telephone to Europe cost six dollars. So I think I've been swept up in it, and I needed to reconsider how I interacted with that, and part of that was to isolate myself from it. Going up to that cabin was an exercise in that, because I knew there was no Internet up there, unless I wanted to wade through two metres of snow then up another three hundred metres, then stand there with my telephone trying to get a signal. I gave up doing that for a while, thinking that this was ridiculous, and that allowed me to remove myself from that part of my life, which admittedly I didn’t enjoy being weaned off it at first. For the first four weeks up there literally nothing happened, I was in shock. I was close to saying this is ridiculous – I had my entire studio carted up there, it was quite a massive deal to get everything transported and set up there, but after four weeks of sitting around amongst my instruments and nothing happening, I had to consider abandoning the idea, it wasn’t going to work for me. Then of course when I got to that moment of thinking that this might end, things started happening for me. Suddenly I was the most productive I had ever been in probably the last twenty years. I'm still going through material on hard drives that I recorded over that three months that I haven’t used for any projects that I am still looking for ways to utilise. It certainly made an impression upon me and I feel that I would like to be more productive, I would like to finish more things – I have been a notorious quitter of things, and have been for a large chunk of the 2000s – and I needed to come up with a system that would help these things to come about. That’s a long answer to your question…

SM – That’s often the way though, there is no easy answer… And the way that you describe that time in your life, talking about technology, I mean, seeing some of the snapshots you have taken over time including your time spent up in the Blackall Ranges, and a lot of that immediately comes to mind when I listen to your music as well. A lot of visual and situational experience comes into the music you have been making. Has that been feeding off what you experienced up in the Alps as well?

HRWell, I think there are a number of layers when you talk about making site-specific work. I think there is a straight attempt at translation where you would probably want to employ a lot of field recordings, you would attempt to create what your ears hear when you are there. That’s not what I'm really about though. It’s more about what the place has imprinted upon me. And what these last two projects have done, the one in the Alps and the one in the Blackall Ranges, they are very dramatic places. I mean it was really hard at the beginning in the Alps, yet you become attuned to it and it leaves an impression on you. At first you might try to be a translator of the space or an interpreter of the space, but when you learn that is not the role, that’s when it gets really interesting. It’s more intuitive, that’s the kind of language I'm attempting to develop and I see myself at the very beginning of that process, I have a long way to go. I want to keep making site-specific music, I'm really driven by that at the moment. I'm just learning a language that works for me.

SM – Let’s talk about the latest album that is coming out on Lawrence’s cassette label A Guide To Saints. Where was the natural jumping point from your last piece to here? Coming back here to creating this new piece?

HRI came back here from Austria in February, in the middle of winter, to come to work with my painter friend, so this is really preceded by the work I did with Allyson. I pretty much went straight up to that farm, and I started working on that right away. That was informed immediately from a very quiet, mountainous, wintry territory to landing in the middle of summer, which in a hearing kind of sense it is so insanely intense, so that was the first impression that made on me. And then in conjunction with the conversations with Allyson about what we were trying to get at, and in conjunction with being placed upon this enormous mountain of basalt, this really dense rock, the work is a very dense piece of audio. At the same time I was making other work while I was there, and that is what has become Sleep Health. When I did come to Australia I had some real issues trying to get some sleep, like a really hard time getting my head down and passing out. So while  doing the installation work, I was trying to make something that would help me sleep. How I would do it was after I had wrapped working on Score For A Mineral Landscape for the day, I would start making these pieces of music designed for me to nod off to. Because of the way the studio was set up, my bed was right there, so with a Bluetooth mouse I could lay in bed and make and record things and do manipulation of sounds and processing while I was in bed (laughs) and that was the starting point for it. I would then put sections of it on loop and I was sort of able to sedate myself through that action. Another factor into this was that someone that I really care about was having health problems at the time and he really likes to sit down listening to slow droney music, and in my kind of naivety and my desire to make that person better, I thought I could make music to make that person better, and those two ideas started merging. That’s what that album really is – I actually dare anyone to listen to it and still be awake by the end of it. It’s my most boring work to date, and I'm really into it (laughs). I do love this kind of deep listening that you can do to tones that obviously don’t have to be made by me, in fact there are many people who do it incredibly well. I love listening to single tones, I love listening to drones, and what happens if you are in the right space, after ten minutes the things that start happening to that tone in your head. I think it is a really wonderful experience.

SM – Referring to site-based works, sometimes listening to it in a particular situation changes it for you too. I know that a lot of sound artists and drone artists look for venues outside the norm for that express purpose, so that you can engage with the music in a specific way without outside influences. I saw William Basinski play in a church in London a few weeks ago…

HRThe Disintegration Loops guy?

SM – Yeah, yeah. And he played a piece from his Nocturnes release which is basically this small loop, something like fifteen seconds long, and it’s played over and again for fifty minutes. He slowly manipulates that loop so that by the end it’s crackling and wavering in and out of sync with the original loop…and that’s something that really strikes me with this kind of music is that the venue mattered – it was a church without electricity, there were tea lights lit everywhere, everyone was sitting on the floor, on plastic chairs or in pews, and it was almost clinical, “this is what it needs to be to listen to this”…but it worked, you know? At the end of it you were unaware of the time, you were unaware of place even, although it had clearly been created for you, and that’s what I really like in Sleep Health itself and the excerpts that you have connected visuals to, you’re immediately being sucked into the visuals – the music almost disappeared. And the excerpts are only a minute and half each; I found that incredibly interesting. Sleep is health, and health is sleep, the two notions feeding into each other, a self-perpetuating type of idea…

HRYou should write the press release! (laughs) I think what you just said about Basinski and creating a space for, for the lack of a better word let’s say meditation, right, and I think these kind of spaces or these kinds of events, I'm pretty interested in art or sound – art is an umbrella term – but having a purpose, having a objective. Whether that is then accepted or embraced by the audience becomes kind of secondary. Purpose is useful, and I think that having spaces that you can go to, which remove ourselves from whatever and wherever our lives are, I think that’s really becoming more important, to have these spaces, these thirty minute blocks in our lives where we're not staring at our glowing rectangle. You have to be careful when saying these things because you start sounding like an old man, railing against technology, which I'm not, I love technology, but I think it is of benefit that we allow ourselves a time to remove ourselves from it. There has been examples all along. I made this film up in the mountains, and for me it was a reference, you know those old VHS videotapes with a fireplace on it or an aquarium? I think those are early versions I'm trying to get at (laughs). I'm very interested in making work that creates environments or possibilities for that time to disengage, or re-engage. If people engage with it, that’s great, but that is the purpose that I'm attaching to this sort of stuff.

The rest of this interview will be posted tomorrow.

Monday 23 September 2013

Getting Gruesome And Weird With Joanna

Noise pop can mean so many things. For Cardiff five-piece Joanna Gruesome, though, it is probably the most fitting "label" anyone can give them - they carve out the sweetest sounding tunes before deep-frying them in dissonance, speed and epileptic glee. They have been around for a while, yet Weird Sister is only their debut LP. It's so worth the wait - I put it on being a moderate fan, and four songs in needed them in my life for the rest of eternity. Slumberland records have gone in cahoots with Fortuna POP! to put this one out, and it's the perfect marriage - the soft, lilting vocals buoyed on top of a distorted maelstrom of crashing calamity - The Wedding Present on steroids and sherbet. Its like eating a red-eye pepper chocolate - so sweet and tasty, then the kick has you sweating profusely, your tastebuds freaking out - you are in pain, oh so glorious pain - even as you grab another handful and cram them in your mouth. It swings into straight up punk in parts - 'Graveyard' is the most obvious one there - yet even it flirts with twee plaintiveness before slamming the foot on the gas once more. There have been some electric albums this year, but I'm hard pressed to name one thus far that had me thrashing about with an idiotic grin aching my face muscles. don't get me wrong - some of the subject matter here is morbid and strange - but this is a communal purge, an avenue to let all the bad stuff out. Weird as this sister may be, Joanna Gruesome is without a doubt a cool customer who is a hell of a lot of fun to be around.

You can buy Weird Sister here.

Like A Moth To A Flame, Over And Again

I spoke about Mourning Glow, the great little EP from San Francisco's Wild Moth, not that long ago. They have since released this excellent LP Over Again on Asian Man Records - Jesus it's good. Strong, pummelling, warm yet raucous tones, frenetic atmosphere that wavers between the type of repetitive punk rock of Double Dagger but dipped in the waters of Iceage, then thrown into the Delorean and flung back into the backwaters of 1995... Over Again is a relentless mashing of all my buttons. The best thing is that it is an assured collection of songs - there are no noodling vignettes, no misplaced sense of gnashing of teeth. It encapsulates a certain place in time, sure, but it also feels authentic, acid-tinged bile tempered by knowledge and experience, then played with. Wild Moth aren't necessarily an angry band, then (although 'Blossom' certain sounds furious), but one that uses dissonance just for kicks as well as for kicking the pricks.

You can pick up Over Again here - it's a great album that deserves attention when December comes around, seriously electric.

Video Vacuum - Kim Deal, Totem, Flyying Colours, Deerhunter

Ah, it's good to be on the bridge of the Starship Masala once more! Sure, work took over and I needed the money to live, but as soon as I work out how to subsist only on the wellspring of music, I will be in eternal bliss. And here are four clips that attempt to get me there...

Anyone else think the first taste of new Pixies sans Kim Deal sounded like a repetitive piece of shit? Anyone else looking forward to The Breeders playing Last Splash in its entirety in October? Anyone else think Deal's 7' singles collection showcases some of her best writing ever? Anyone else answer yes when she ponders "Are You Mine?" If you answered yes to all the above, we were meant to be.

The vid for 'See-Saw Girl' is a little ridiculous and doesn't make that much sense - the girl killed some people and stole some money and is on the run and the magician saves her but kidnaps her and steals her money? Maybe. It's still a lot of pantomime noir fun. But seriously, I'm all about the track itself - I don't know much else about Totem, but this song is seriously fucking killer. It was my morning kickstarter for fourteen days straight as I clawed my way through some rough times, and still gets me jumping about when I hear it - it's a keeper.

I hadn't heard of Flyying Colours before the manager at Black Bear Lodge sent me their website URL last week. It's nice to see that there are some quality shoegaze acts coming out in Australia, and if 'Wavygravy' is any indication, these Melbourne dudes are chewing on the insane root that Jason Pierce is partial to also, which is pretty amazing indeed. Keep an eye out on these guys.

Finally, I'm worried I may be out of the country when Bradford Cox and his fellow Deerhunters hit. Sure, I've seen them a handful of times (and once in a gay sex den in London - a great show, even if my apparent status as a "bear" came into acute focus that night, thanks Warren), but have always been enamoured by Cox's unabashed love of music in general and his weird personas. Monomania is an album that continues to grow on me, and an album like Cryptograms continues to inspire (friends of mine are even writing songs that are influenced by this era of the band - and it's bloody good. More on that soon). This clip for 'Back To The Middle' accentuates this blurring of gender and expectations that Cox has toyed with in the past, and for what is nothing much more than a transgender karaoke montage, it's pretty great.