New Music

Interesting new music: V/A, X in O, T.Morimoto and more

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Various Asses – ‘Forever Baby’

Various Asses, or V/A for short, is another alias for Rachel Solier, better known as Fatti Frances. ‘Forever Baby’ is a brief instrumental with a drowsy and ruminative tone. It’s resonant and inviting, much like Fatti Frances’ more pop-oriented work, but without vocals the production sounds cavernous, almost ritualistic.

“V/A is a separate thing from Fatti – and I intend to keep doing both at this point,” Raquel Solier told me when I got in touch. Now a mother, Solier says she needs to go about making music a little differently now. “V/A has a small set of rules – quick decision making, delete at will, no vocals, use a secret sample of a song I love, and put things out there without thinking about it too much.

“[These are] all things I would love to do with Fatti but am to precious about it. In the end I think V/A is a clean slate where I can build more skills and experiment.”

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Craün Analysis

Craün is the work of Sydney-based artist Aris Hatzidakis. Analysis is his first album under this name, released earlier this year on Hush Hush Records both digitally and on cassette. It’s seven tracks of serene drone, reportedly drawing on field recordings of Sydney’s “industrial and natural areas”. There’s a lot of hushed, foggy drone music to choose from, but Hatzidakis is good at sustaining a cosmic, lonely mood across these seven tracks.

Get Analysis here.

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X In O – ‘Totally in a Blaze’

‘Totally in a Blaze’ is either about burning to death or getting high. It doesn’t sound like the ideal soundtrack for either experience, because it’s disorientating enough sober and un-ignited. If ‘Bucephalus Bouncing Ball’ were composed by a crazed circus ringleader, maybe it’d sound like this?

This track appeared earlier this year on a small run cassette called RAW, but Kat Martian, aka X in O, aka half of Brisbane duo Brainbeau, assured me it will turn up again at some point in the future. Whether that’s on a new record or a reissue of RAW is yet to be determined. “If my new stuff is drastically different I’ll just release the old stuff as it was on the small run of RAW,” Kat told me. That’s just as well, as RAW originally issued in a run of 15.

In addition to appearances at the Ladyz in Noyz showcases in Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle (it’s happening in Melbourne this week), X in O is planning a release with Russian artist Fureon Nectarmoon by December. Brainbeau is likely to have a release out in early 2016 as well.


Gravy Baby – Tripped Out Mindstate

This mixtape released back in April but it’s worth drawing attention to now, because Gravy Baby is among the most interesting local rappers I’ve heard of late. I was introduced to the south-west Sydney rapper via the clip for ‘Tripped Out‘, a bleak jewel in a local scene terminally fixated on self-help platitudes and dull social observation. I don’t know much about Gravy Baby personally – I tried to organise an interview but he politely declined – but the tracks on Tripped Out Mindstate mostly speak for themselves, and bring together a bunch of other likeminded Sydney rappers including Sky High and Nter. If you follow their names down the YouTube / Soundcloud rabbithole you’ll find some great material.

Get Tripped Out Mindstate here.


T.Morimoto – Crit Reflex

T.Morimoto is an alias for Sydney’s Thomas William. According to Thomas, the T.Morimoto name is meant to separate this work from his more dance-oriented material, and it’s probably for the best as there’s not much in the way of a ‘beat’ on Crit Reflex. Instead, these are seven short excerpts from longer improvisations using two synths, mixer feedback and an MPC1000.

“With the tape, I just wanted to do something that was totally immediate, had no particular conceptual focus, and had nothing to do with computers,” Thomas said when I got in touch. “I never really intended to release this stuff but he [Ryan Lloyd of label Junk Mnemonic] was keen just from hearing a couple on Soundcloud.”

“I’d describe it as an attempt to escape both the DAW, and any sense of criticality or conceptual intent,” Thomas continued. “I suppose [that’s] still a concept of sorts. I started recording these improvisations without intending to ever release them – as a way of escaping premeditation in terms of genre and avoiding the decision making process involved in using this or that set of sounds, or trying to get it to sound this way or that. I suppose it was a way of suspending the constraints that one inevitably works within when making music for a particular social context or with particular technology.

“Of course it’s impossible to ever transcend those containers, so in that sense this mode of creating music is doomed to instant failure and is inevitably subsumed straight back into a broader musical conversation or has certain descriptors applied to it by other people.  But I suppose that ongoing attempt to do those undoable things is what these recordings are about, if they have to be about something.”

Get Crit Reflex here.

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New Grog Pappy tapes

Newcastle noise label Grog Pappy has five new cassettes after nearly a year of silence. They include Pluto, Cone Puncher, a split between ‘Crabby Bogman’ and ‘Moocockcowsafari’ (at a guess, Cooper Bowman and Cock Safari), Silly String and Sick Boy. Based on the samples embedded on the Grog Pappy blogspot Pluto is an early favourite, an eerie meeting point between Ashtray Navigations and The Caretaker. All five are on sale for $20 until the end of September, so you might as well buy them all.


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Destiny 3000 – ‘380D’

I first saw Destiny 3000 play at the Imperial Hotel in 2013. There was lots of ’90s-inspired indie rock in Sydney at the time – boofy, emotionally vague guitar music – so I didn’t pay close attention. Two years later, they’ve just released their first 7 inch through RIP Society (they released a live tape on Paradise Daily last year) and it’s as warming as lo-fi guitar rock gets. I don’t have anything interesting to say about this, other than it makes me feel good, but also sad, and that I think you should listen to it.

Get the Destiny 3000 7 inch here.


The Rangoons – A Postcard From Rangoon Island

Lots of people brave enough to go out in public have said The Rangoons are one of Sydney’s best live bands at present. That may be true, but there are some great moments on this Paradise Daily cassette EP, especially the heartbreaking ‘Lunatic / Shadow’, which captures the same wistful melancholy as Garbage and the Flowers at their most restrained. The three-piece are playing at Paradise Biannually 2 (aka the second Rag Rag Festival) in November at Marrickville bowlo.

Get A Postcard From Rangoon Island here.


Grog Pappy – Ferret Compilation (c30)

Picture 2John Overholt was a psychic medium and “spiritual healer” based in Newcastle, New South Wales. He specialised in “energy clearing” of homes and offices, and he was an Aroc Master for whatever that’s worth. His work was not substantiated by science and it was not rational. It was buoyed by superstition. It’s probably true that among the enlightened and educated he was considered a fraud, though his penetration of that market – his presence among the sceptical – was likely marginal at best. But do you know who John Overholt is? What was he doing? And was it comforting to know he existed?

Overholt passed away last year after a battle with cancer, but he’s immortalised (in a fashion) on this Grog Pappy compilation. His moment here is interstitial: the fact of his speaking is all we have. His actual words are manipulated beyond comprehension: we only know it’s him because the 40 second track is called ‘John Overholt Psychic Medium’. It’s not attributed to anyone else. Overholt was an unusual guy with a strange trade in a small city, but who knows what kind of alchemy he worked on his audiences. He probably changed lives, maybe. Here he’s a mockery.

This compilation is not important in any meaningful sense of the term. These eleven tracks are offered with no context in the form of liner notes, and most of the artist names you can’t even Google. These sounds are only rendered important because some guy put them on a tape and sold it on his blog. You can buy it, therefore it is. Some of the names are familiar (Rats With Wings, Moffarfarrah, The Mermaids, Prehistoric Fuckin Moron) but only to like, fifty people. I think it’s safe to say that by most units of measurement, Ferret is absolutely meaningless. To your mum and John Brown at the servo, these tracks are like a fish out of water, flailing pathetically, making a mess in that moment, probably bleeding from the eye. It won’t hold up to the world’s scrutiny: it will be laughed off and rejected, like most protests. There’s no cohesion, no goal, no purpose. Eleven arbitrarily united assaults by eleven different people. Whatever. Who cares.

There are plenty of routes you can take to explain this music, but most of the time Ferret sounds like the folk art of an age obsessed with filth and decay. It doesn’t need a purpose. For example: Rats With Wings’ ‘Beefcurtains Redux’ sounds sickenly yet, somehow, innocently pornographic. It feels like a confused, postmillennial culmination of instincts: it knows that horror shares prime time with moral servitude in most 21st century loungerooms, it knows that you can stream both at the same time, on different screens. It’s paternal, benevolent television rotted at the jaw. And right around the corner, Samaan Fleck is there to depict the frayed nerve endings – the broken circuits – that allow these crossed channels to make sense: a harsh static nothingness, a sound without a core, a heart without a beat, just noise and input. Godly, honey input. It’s a punishment you volunteer to.

Is that what noise music should do, now? Is it important for it to portray the crossed wires of a species that can degrade itself privately and with no remorse, with no recourse to the exploited? What else is it doing, if not that? What systems teach us otherwise! If you look at the blogs that are connected with labels like Grog Pappy – a relentless assault of the terminally fucked and ugly, set against the technicolour splendour of the everyday – then Ferret begins to make sense. Because it’s all noise. Piled corpses and Larry Emdur: that’s the same world. It’s all noise, all input, all titillation.

This noise is resigned to the fact that there’s a tiny distance between what you innocently consume and what you would consume, were it made available to you. It knows you’re ugly, because you are. The things you do are ugly, and the fact you don’t know they’re ugly is uglier. This is music for an age of archived beheadings, animal crush films, men falling from many storeys above, and then dead. It’s for an age of Tony Abbott, where arbiters of morality are always the ugliest leaches of all. It’s for an age of Parks and Recreation animated gifs. It’s the evidence that this horror exists, and the knowledge that you’d watch it again. This is terminal.

And that’s why, when The Mermaids’ godly synth landscapes descend at about the 25 minute mark – all calm pastels, new age purity, a kind of utopian nostalgia – you feel properly confronted. That’s when it’s sad, because real beauty sounds spectral, impossible, transient. It struggles! This surrounding fetid reality is permanent and inescapable, but here you go, here’s some relief. We only have this. John Overholt is a joke. Larry Emdur is a joke. There is no escape. That’s what Ferret sounds like: a putrid curiosity and then a meal at KFC. What else can you do.

Many of the artists on Ferret don’t communicate this anguish on their own: Prehistoric Fuckin Moron’s albums aren’t this debased: they’re colourful and transporting. Moffarfarrah’s recordings don’t normally channel apocalypse to this extent: they’re strange in their own way. But together with Herby Cock-Hands, Tistriallal Binds, Samaan Fleck and The Mermaids, this whole mess of otherwise rotely ‘fascinating’ sound feels epochal. It’s a half-dozen browsers open at once to shady age-blocked blogspots. It’s mess set against mess. It’s a culmination. It’s too much input, and therefore frightening and true. It’s an animated gif of a man eating his own shit.

Label: Grog Pappy
Release date: February 2013

New Music

Watch: The Mermaids – Greetings in Three Languages II

The Mermaids, as we’ve mentioned before, is a Newcastle duo featuring Michael from Cock Safari / the Grog Pappy label, and Nick from Polyfox and the Union of the Most Ghosts. The track above features on a new Grog Pappy compilation cassette entitled Ferret, which also features the likes of Prehistoric Fuckin Moron, Moffarfarrah, Rats With Wings along with eight other artists. Michael sent me a copy on CD-R with the polite message “a CDR because you don’t have a tape deck. Get it together.” In my defense, I do have a tape player, I just hate using it.

Anyway, The Mermaids continues to be one of the more interesting synth-improv units in Australia, mixing as it does the prettier instincts of Nick French’s pre-band Polyfox with the demented / slightly sleazy elements of Michael’s Cock Safari. ‘Greetings in Three Languages II’ will probably come as a surprise to anyone who keeps an eye (and not an ear) on some of the noise stuff coming out of Newcastle at the moment. For a ‘scene’ that often trades in debased pornographic imagery (the Grog Pappy blog is very NSFW) and totally vanquished / vandalised sonic realms, this Mermaids track is actually stunningly beautiful! The more we hear from this duo the better.

You can get the Ferret compilation here. We’ll review it in full one of these days.

New Music

Download: The Mermaids – Dolphin Cove

Crawlspace was sent a new batch of Grog Pappy releases recently. Grog Pappy is a Newcastle cassette label operated by The Guy From Cock Safari (his name is Michael), but we haven’t got around to reviewing them yet because our tape player is busted. Get around to them we will, though, but in the meantime, the benevolent folk at that label have offered up a free download of the now-sold-out Mermaids tape from last year. Titled Dolphin Cove, it’s liable to put a smile on the dial of any fan of shit-eating Newcastle noise.

The Mermaids consists of aforementioned guy from Cock Safari and Nick French from Polyfox and the Union of the Most Ghosts. Cooper Bowman recently described Grog Pappy’s output as “the greatest insight into Newcastle you are likely to get, outside of getting your head kicked in outside The Kent”. He’s from Newcastle, so you should listen to him.

Visit the Grog Pappy website for your free, no-strings-attached download. For more immediate thrills, watch this live footage of a July performance at Newcastle’s Terrace Bar.

Features, Reviews

Scum Mecca #1

Contained here are six reviews: five tapes and one 10 inch lathe-cut vinyl. Scum Mecca is the name of the column, an irregular feature on Crawlspace’s schedule. Cooper Bowman writes it. This month the column covers Tim Coster, FFEHRO, Mu, Mermaids, Oranj Punjabi, Pho Band/Faux Band and Sky Needle. We’ve provided audio samples where possible, but most of the time it wasn’t possible. Sorry.

Tim Coster – Ocean Liner CS (Albert’s Basement)

After a string of solo releases on his own Fictitious Sighs imprint, as well as numerous collabs both on FS and other labels, Ocean Liner continues the understated minimalism of New Zealand transplant Tim Coster’s previous work. The title track drifts along in a pleasantly amnesiatic state that will appeal to those with an ear attuned to the likes of Schulze’s or Shnitzler’s more subdued pieces. Here Coster deals in restrained synthesised modulations, effectively complimented with subtle keyboard tones before abruptly ending mid-drift. The second track, ‘Two Adjacent Pavilions’, comprises minimal guitar sounds, murky tape hiss and occasional bleeps, making a slightly less engaging, if decisively incongruent departure from the a-side.

FFEHRO – Easy Listening For The Chemically Challenged CS (Albert’s Basement)

FFEHRO, shorthand for Forks For Eyes Head Orchestra. The first movement is an excessively fried, too-long-in-the-sun style hallucination. Things quickly degenerate from here. In-between clatter and radio abounds. Cutlery as percussion, record warp as music, flickering melody as intoxicant. Psychedelic industrial noise. Must be heard to be seen. Really, what would you expect from Toowoomba.

Mu – Live CS (Albert’s Basement)

Mu is a recently anointed duo comprised of Mickey (Mad Nanna, Silk Ears) and Hugh (Nun, Constant Mongrel). Rather than the more rock-based moves of their other ventures, Mu sees them both finding zen in the outer reaches of noise. Following a quick succession of untitled releases, this short affair (same track on both sides) follows a similar trajectory of experiments in pure microphone feedback, vocals and electronics. The piece begins as a steady, warped bass loop with feedback shrieks prodding in and out, before building steam and becoming fully immersive with the introduction of a Casio beat and garbled vocals. Reminds me of some of the more zoned-out aspects of the Shadow Ring combined with the production value of SPK’s Live At The Crypt. Gripping stuff.

Mermaids – Love From The Vegetable Kingdom CS (Grog Pappy)

New tape on what is easily one of the best tape labels in the cuntry. One part Cock Safari, other part Polyfox, Mermaids is a project usually reserved for cheap laughs and cheaper sounds emitted via a range of toys and abused Nintendo applications. Love From The Vegetable Kingdom sees the Mermaids paired up with Nylstoch (Unaustralians, Venting Gallery) on a rare Melbourne sojourn earlier in the year. Although elements of their toys creep underneath at times (definitely could pick an annoying siren I’ve heard used at least once before), Nylstoch’s hysterical overdriven geet and presumed later drumming mutates the Mermaids into a much more threatening beast. The animal lurches, stumbles and crashes into a heap of low-end blow-out and cymbal collapse. Grog Pappy provides what is probably the greatest insight into Newcastle you are likely to get, outside of getting your head kicked in outside The Kent. This tape’s covers are printed on paper found in one of the many derelict buildings in the Newcastle “CBD” (I use the term very loosely) before it was demolished. My copy has a list of many of Newcastle’s suburbs in its background, and I probably have a fucked story associated with every one of them. There is no love in this vegetable patch.

Oranj Punjabi – Untitled c20 (Mazurka Editions)

This is the second release for a newly formed label from Newcastle called Mazurka Editions. The imprint operates on miniscule runs (this specific tape is limited to 30) and possesses a distinct focus on the artwork which adorns them. Oranj Punjabi has roots in musique concrete due to her approach being predominantly tape-based, but otherwise there is little else I can think of to compare her to. The first of the two tracks here, ‘Permanent Vertigo’, begins with noises akin to tape being chewed outta the deck and straight down the plughole. You ever hear of that chinstroking wankfest called Liquid Architecture? This is liquid deconstruction. Really, I have no idea what source material is being used here, but it sounds like OP has somehow converted magnetic tape into a watery form and is playing with it like a small child. If Drexciya made noise instead of techno, these are the kinda submerged sounds they’d create. The flip, ‘Zero Degrees of Psychic Life’, is a journey through an uncharted locale. There are bumps and ridges along its topography, creating a thoroughly disorienting sensation. Resonance is repeatedly slowed and stopped. Occasionally the reverberations hint at rhythms, but mostly they are gradually fed through and allowed to exhale freely. The results are an astral trance of which the endpoint is (thankfully) nowhere in sight.

Pho Band / Faux Band – Barry O Cup Day / The Door 10” lathe (Greatdividing)

Greatdividing is one of the most essential features of the Australian musical landscape. There are few who appear to be appreciative of it’s rough and rewarding terrain, but those who do know the geography better than most. The two bands here are one band. Both are comprised of Exiles From Clowntown alumni, arob and sootieb. The two loose, side-spanning manifestations on offer bear much in resemblance to the disjointed and purely engaging slop-rock of the Exiles. It’s impossible to tell which is the “a-side” due to both being littered with several, seemingly unrelated numbers and sigils. In fact, the record appears to be a testament to irritation par excellence; it is a detested size (10”) assembled out of unpopular materials (polycarbonate), featuring bands that do not exist, playing music that moves an inch. But what an inch it is! I’ll go with the Pho Band first; drum and guitar walk around the room uncomfortably, run into each other, shake hands and make nice before leaving for the pub. Repetition is the key here. Two old blokes in a room, the sound of encroaching senility (or refinement). Drunk, abject, confused, where else to go but down? It’s ok, I can say that without fear of too much reprisal, arob used to be my landlord (sorry about the rug). The “other” side is similarly aimless n’ entrancing . Hypnotic guitar and what might be an organ or might not be push a rock up shit hill but never reach the top. Nor do they need to, it is the process that matters. Despite being a disreputably unreliable format, these two cuts sound bloody fantastic. If music appearing on a lathe is a deterrent for you, then you should probably sort your life out anyway.

Sky Needle – Acid Perm / Deadshits Salon c10 (Nihilistic Orbs)

Closely following an excellent LP on Negative Guest List earlier in the year, Acid Perm is something of a red herring on the otherwise patently electronic-geared Nihilistic Orbs label, run by Chrome Dome’s Shaun South. The title-track of this cassette features what is for me the most interesting quality of Sky Needle; almost total incomprehensibility of how the music is being created. At once it is both organic and electronic, the only distinct instrument used being drums. Otherwise, the rest of its components are difficult to determine. What is certain is that it possesses a purely unprecedented and psychedelic quality. The song is bookended by clapping, indication of its recording in a live setting followed by a brief and blurred reprise. ‘Deadshits Salon’ possesses a similar sickening lurch, albeit with Sarah Byrne’s verbal jabber as the prevalent sound employed, a lethargic male voice subtly weaving underneath and around it. To be perfectly honest, I prefer Sky Needle as an instrumental unit. Their mechanisms almost struggle at times to maintain synchronicity, the very fact that they do is what keeps me interested and it is in this potential collapse that Sky Needle’s strength lies.