Tuesday 26 August 2014

Aussie Electronic Wash

OK, let's start today on some sepulchral electronics from the sunburnt netherworld, shall we?

First up is Andy Citawarman, most notably recognised as the crazy man that wasn't Joe McKee from hugely underrated Western Australian outfit Snowman. They put together some of the most deliciously claustrophobic and dark performances I've ever seen - true mental catharsis through self-flagellation. Third album Absence saw the band come to its (sadly) logical conclusion, with the gnashing of teeth gone but that sense of encroachment and paranoia still fervently in place. Citawarman has not been completely quiet though - he has been crafting gossamer wash electronic theatrics for a few years now. 'For Velvet Rain' is supposedly written for his niece, but it's hard to tell - opening with operatic piano and soaring melancholic ghostly effects before dissolving into a white-noise trance, repetition through obliteration. The Fuck Buttons comparison here isn't just fair but obligatory - this is a journey through the blurred outer realms. Extremely exciting, and waiting anxiously for the next instalment.

Andrew McLellan and Joel Stern are two other Australian artists who have a lot of musical outlets. The thing is, they are all beguiling creatures unto themselves. Stern's improvised instrument experiment Sky Needle is probably the most obvious one, whilst McLellan's Cured Pink is an ever-evolving melange of worldly noise in a manicured teacup, stewing restlessly for the new niche yet never finding it (and never truly wanting to). The two of them have joined forces before of course through the busted sonic whirr in Greg Boring, a band that revels more in what doesn't work than what does. When making music together as Soft Power though, we see the melding of some truly mesmeric minds (joining the duo is Josh Watson (Sewers) and Sophia Brous). It is Brous though that steals the proverbial show - her discombobulated vocals drift in and out of the nebulous mix like an otherworldly swami with hiccups, creating an ethereal dialogue between the real and the self that I'm not even sure she understands. But it is the rocking-chair analogous monotony of the music that combines with Brous' vocals to provide a hypnotic mantra, all pastel hallucinogens and out-of-focus pop paradigms. Soft Power has released an album through All Day Breakfasts, If You Come Around - a white-noise technicolour tune-out wonderland - buy it here.

Also based in Queensland is Kurt Eckardt AKA Astral Skulls. The combination of guitar and synth here creates a 16-bit platform for monotone vocals to create an interesting cross section of New Wave marching nihilism and post-millennial hypercolour movement and beats. The end result? An anarchic drumbeat of post-punk that bubbles more than boils, made for cassettes to jam into your Commodore 64. More, please.

The crew from Feral Media are a great collective that hold the pulse on weird electronic beats, and the last two artists for today are from their "stable". I know I have mentioned Setec previously - 'For Concrete Or Water' is still a burr in my sonic side - and he has finally released the album Brittle As Bones, so definitely warrants a mention here. The Cornelius and The Books comparisons can be picked up on in various spaces throughout the album, but above all Setec's palette seems to be a warmth, knitting together found sound, samples and sonorous vocals to create a personal work of heartbreaking beauty. Worthy of a review on its own (sorry Josh!), suffice to say that Brittle As Bones is a fantastic debut release.

But to finish off is the wonderful Clean Dirt, the new album from Melbourne weirdnik Bob Streckfuss AKA 0point1. The amalgamation of pop compositions and found sound electronic is used here in a intricate yet uncluttered Jenga tower, coalescing to emotions thought untouchable (see tracks like 'Radio Edit' and 'Wormchild Singalong'). Above all else there is a restless creativity here that belies childlike enthusiasm, straddling the industrial and the naturalistic. You can get Clean Dirt here on USB, coming with a bunch of fresh material.

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