If ever there was a personification of Baudrillard’s post-modern vision, Perth-born, Melbourne-based artist, producer and party-thrower Michael Ozone is it. His real name is Brad Wynne but that’s beside the point, because as the embodiment of ‘references without referents’, his private universe of recontextualised global imagery and unapologetic cultural appropriation reaches such levels of insensitivity that it transcends those quaint concepts of ‘morality’ and ‘truth’. An Islamic skullcap, a stylised Star of David, clapsticks and ‘90s public access TV are all fair game for creative inspiration. Hence, you have his label Home Loan Records –with its winking reference to something as mundane as personal finance –embarking on its maiden voyage with a 12-inch release of experimental house and maybe minimal techno from a band with its members’ roots in the ethical DIY and thinking-man’s post-punk. Go figure.
To be fair, Total Control abandoned boundaries long before they became the synth-driven five-piece as we now know it. Vocalist Daniel Stewart could’ve already alienated his hardcore audience by getting arty with The UV Race, while garage rocker Mikey Young donned a pair of fishnets, found a Lamborghini and spat out a brilliantly brazen electropop project, Brain Children. It was only downhill from there with Total Control’s italo-disco-sounding Paranoid Video 7-inch, followed by one the ugliest (and by that I mean, amazing) album covers of 2011 with Henge Beat. Featuring squiggles, distorted perspectives and an eye-of-the-storm simulation at its centre, it’s almost as if artist Rasmus Svensson is the point at which the Venn diagram of Michael Ozone and Total Control’s creative paths cross over.
Featuring another hypermodern Svensson work, this bizarre, though not actually that surprising record yields a lurid deconstruction of Henge Beat song ‘Carpet Rash’ by Total Control core, drummer James Vinciguerra and guitarist-producer Mikey Young. Stewart’s vocals are stripped of the fierce guitar energy of the original and fed along a focused industrial ebb; sequenced beats sashaying through a narrative of debasement and questionable hygiene. The previously unreleased instrumental tracks to follow also carry along a wonky tunnel of gyrating signals in ‘New Age’ and out-of-step polyrhythms in ‘Algorithmic Field’. But where the former track’s reference to a Western spiritual movement would send any self-aware, synth-fiddling new-psycher screaming, Michael Ozone thrusts it further into his oblivious world of zero-accountability culture by mincing said song and its title into the stuttering weirdness and Arabic vibe of ‘New Age Hop’. He even takes Stewart’s shaky, off-beat vocal and feeds it through a wobbly echo in ‘Carpet Club Crash’ to make it sound even more sleazy, while transforming the brilliantly melodic refrain into a cosmic synth line.
The result of all this production, reproduction and distortion? A fully compatible and oddly cohesive piece of work that criss-crosses time, culture and aesthetics to make a Total Control and Michael Ozone collab a densely packed bit of amoral fun with a head for diversity that knows no bounds.
Label: Home Loan Records
Release Date: October 2012