Gardland is the Sydney-based techno duo of Alex Murray and Mark Smith. Together they produce deep, minimal and abstract techno with a dedication to analog equipment. They’ve just released their debut EP through new Sydney imprint Hunter Gatherer, which the duo founded. The label hopes to promote “electronic music that is uncompromising, passionate and human” with “a focus on fostering organic musical personalities and artistic self-determination.”
Gardland’s debut EP is indeed uncompromising: it’s a lengthy four track affair that showcases the duo’s aggressively sparse and sometimes bleak take on minimal techno, recalling Berlin’s Basic Channel network as well as classic unrelenting Detroit aesthetics. We sent the few questions via email. Murray and Smith collaborated on the answers.
How long has Gardland been active?
Gardland began as the solo project from Alex but lacked the adventure and spontaneity he was looking for with techno. Meanwhile Mark was making tracks that were overly adventurous and raw; we hooked up, had a jam and immediately knew we were on to something. We began playing all improvised and analogue shows together which captured the sound we both felt was missing from a lot of electronic music.
How long have you known one another?
A few years.
There’s not a huge scene in Sydney (to my knowledge) for the type of techno you’re producing – can the club scene accommodate music like this at the moment?
Well, when people like Peter Van Hoesen and Silent Servant get booked then it fits in pretty seamlessly. However, without an international artist framing the audience experience then I guess it can be a risky thing playing abstract techno. Perhaps people’s expectations need the safety net of an established artist to frame their experience of local techno? But there is certainly a new sensibility emerging in Sydney that is more open to “difficult” sounds, that is willing and eager to be challenged. That’s what we want to be part of.
What kind of nights have you played so far? Who do you consider kindred spirits in Sydney?
We have a couple of blood brothers in the Anomaly crew. They recently brought out Dino Sabatini and have put on two ridiculously great parties in isolated bushland which really opened peoples minds to the possibilities of a well run party. Sometimes in Sydney it is difficult to choose a venue appropriate for experimental electronic music, so they created an inclusive and comfortable environment in the middle of nowhere and played amazing music all night. Also, Matt Costain and Magda have really contributed to Sydney’s access to good techno. Steffi was one of the best parties of last year and Matt has been booking inspirational artists all year.
‘Haut Mal’ is strongly reminiscent of Basic Channel, to my ears. What other influences – music or otherwise – play a role in Gardland?
Everything coming out on PAN Records right now has been blowing our collective mind. Lee Gamble totally ripped open what seemed possible. Avian and Mote Evolver have been injecting new life in to a hard techno scene that had descended into caricature previously. Raw hardware shit like Container. Morphosis is a direct inspiration for our live set and general workflow – no computer, all analogue and a willingness to leave human flaws in the music. Locally speaking, DJs such as Gareth Psaltis, Jordan Peters and James Walsh and the producer Asger Jorn have driven us to work harder and have made Sydney a more professional and inspiring musical environment.
Are there any specific visual associations that this music conjures for you?
Toulouse-Lautrec? Francis Bacon? James Turrell? Lenny Gash? Jannah Quill? Gareth Psaltis? Sarita Walsh? The last four have all contributed to the visual aesthetic of our label Hunter Gatherer; Jannah made our awesome cover artwork and logo, and her and Lenny are building some crazy installations for our label launch in early May. Gareth draws some fucked up shit (see the kangaroo on our website). Sarita has been a great designer and helped add a sense of professionalism. Things get messy when you try and tesselate visual and aural experience haha.
Is there more material in the works? What’s next?
So much new stuff. We have almost an albums worth of stuff to sift through. Our next signee Cassius Select has his first Hunter Gatherer release coming out in the not too distant future… and there’s some dope shit we can’t talk about right now too.
Have you seen the remake of Total Recall? Thoughts?
No. But it’s shit right?
Gardland’s debut EP is available now through Hunter Gatherer.