If you’re familiar with the very early collaborations between Matthew Hopkins and Jonathan Hochman, you’ll know they work very well in longform. ‘Live Drive’ is a recording set for cassette release some time in the near future, and it comprises ‘live in the studio’ renditions/versions of tracks from the duo’s forthcoming Nihilistic Orbs 12 inch and a forthcoming Siberia Records 7 inch split with D.C.M. They’ve also got some tunes scheduled for release through Home Loan Records, presumably on vinyl.
The mix includes the previously featured ‘Meeting Rooms’ as well as a slew of other evocatively titled tracks including ‘Moods’, ‘Claim’, ‘Applications’, ‘Refresh It’, ‘Unknown’ and ‘Moods’, in that order. Check it out.
Four Door is the duo of Jonathan Hochman from Holy Balm and Matthew Hopkins of Naked on the Vague and Half High. Together they create drowsy, uncomfortable techno that deals with “workplace relations, taxation, policy and procedures, and various other civic banalities”. The fittingly titled ‘Meeting Rooms’ does sound very grey, but it’s infused with a kind of workaday surrealism – the inherent strangeness of banal processes, the illusory concept of freedom. Indeed, the locked 4/4 rhythm here is very functional and plain, proceeding at a serviceable and unobtrusive tempo, but the modulating synths and submerged vocals offer a kind of drowsy menace. Stare at the grey wall inside your cubicle and realise why you’re really here, and why you’ll never leave.
Four Door’s debut 12 inch will release soon on Nihilistic Orbs.
Here’s some excessive, laptop speaker igniting industrial from a duo comprising the guy from Chrome Dome / Nihilistic Orbs (Shaun South) and the producer known as Aoi. Apparently borne of the influence of speedballs and Wormwood (it says so on the duo’s Bandcamp), Manhandled have introduced themselves to the world via a rather lengthy self-titled EP, which is going at a pay-what-you-want rate over here. It’s a pretty obvious mix of influences if you’re familiar with either of the members’ other outfits: the beats move away from the strict 4/4s associated with the genre – probably thanks to Aoi’s hip-hop influences – while the textures and, um, emphatically buried melodies recall a more abrasive and less pop-focused Chrome Dome.
There’s a fairly misanthropic and playful mood to Manhandled, thanks to the at times absurdly maximalist approach mixed with evocative song titles such as ‘I Gotta Cyst’ (because he’s got a cyst), ‘I’m Dead’ (because he’s dead), and ‘Bury Me Anywhere But Vienna’ (because he doesn’t want to be buried in Vienna). Whatever the case, it’s hard to tell how seriously these guys take the project, but it’s a pretty hilarious/intense/grueling listen that is worth the entry price, even if you end up hating it.
This is a collection of reflections and lists from Crawlspace editors, as well as a handful of the artists we’ve featured in 2012. Editor Shaun Prescott opens proceedings. Brace yourself.
At the beginning of the year I hated writing about music. I wanted to stop and work full time on a novel, which pretty much signals the end for any writer (unless they manage to complete that novel and it’s okay). The sentiment wasn’t born of dwindling interest in music, but more the brutal logistics of making a worthwhile outlet work. These are the logistics (pageviews / unique hits = revenue) that render a lot of the music we cover on Crawlspace virtually non-existent to outsiders.
For someone whose taste has always been driven by the written word (that’s old-fashioned at best and illogical at worst, I know) it felt like there wasn’t enough writing about Australian groups that would have made me dreamy as a teenager. Things that you read about that make you think, “wow, that sounds incredible and I must track it down,” or “why would anyone listen to that? Help me understand.” Stuff that opens up whole new avenues and ways of listening. If I hadn’t discovered groups like Castings, or Moonmilk, or Naked on the Vague, or Alps, purely by accident upon moving to Sydney in 2005 – where would I be? Crawlspace is largely a response to failed pitches.
The thing is, most of Australia’s best music is often only heard by the people who make it and by their peers. In Sydney, you see the same people at all the good shows. This is healthy enough: that’s a community. Music doesn’t always need to amount to more than that. But in other ways that’s just not good enough. As a believer that reading about music should be about discovery and, sometimes, re-aligning one’s understanding of what they already like, it just made sense to make this website. I also unapologetically believe that 99% of Australia’s music media is ignoring this country’s most important art, instead slavishly covering what the overseas market or the established local “industry” deems fit for consumption. This longstanding habit is an absolute fucking stain on a media that is meant to excite, educate and actually be there when something remarkable is happening just down the road.
Diplomatically speaking, there’s so much to discover, and there are heaps of bands that I wanted Crawlspace to cover in detail this year that never got a run: Collarbones released an incredible record that I greatly admire. Southern Comfort finally released a proper piece of wax. Newcastle’s Grog Pappy label sent us a package we haven’t covered yet (there is something in the works, though). Teen Ax released a great tape that I couldn’t quite articulate the appeal of.
Crawlspace has kinda defined 2012 for me, thus the tiring prologue. Sorry about that. Here’s the business:
2012 has been a year of great songs. Circular Keys’ ‘Eurogrand’, Kitchen’s Floor’s ‘Bitter Defeat’, Nun’s ‘Solvents’, Lower Plenty’s ‘Nullabor’ are all favourites.
I feel like Breakdance the Dawn is the strongest LP-oriented label in Australia: their hastily packaged CD-Rs usually communicate one single idea incredibly well. Often they feel like transmissions from a world that is vaguely similar to mine, yet it’s somehow melted, fraught with illogical dream-state segues. Girls Girls Girls and Club Sound Witches both provided highlights.
My favourite LP this year was Wonderfuls‘ Salty Town, which I still haven’t reviewed, but will. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a record that captures small town loneliness and neurosis quite as effectively – and it’s not even (completely) about that. It’s a tough record to swallow. It’s emotionally challenging and confronting. A close second is Mental Powers‘ LP.
Woollen Kits are a group I’ve maintained total ambivalence towards up until now. I’ve heard the 7s and bought the first LP, but found all astonishingly dull. They wouldn’t let me in. Magically, Four Girls did. Prosaically speaking I think they simply became better songwriters.
The best punk rock record of the year is Taco Leg‘s. Many thought my review suggested otherwise. Sorry about that.
Fatti Frances’ Sweaty EP is something I think about regularly when I’m not listening to it. It’s so strangely modern in its positioning of love and lust, and whether there should be a versus there.
If Australia celebrated new music as tirelessly as it did the old, than Midday Music: Brisbane 2012 is an essential a document as Lethal Weapons and… a bunch of other old compilations that people fawn over.
Melodie Nelson’s To The Dollhouse is objectively one of the best records in 2012, but I’m quarantined from all things MN because she’s one of my best friends. So don’t trust me. Listen for yourself. She also made the logo for Crawlspace. Thanks for that.
Anyway, without further ado, over the page is a series of reflections and lists from some of the groups and artists Crawlspace has covered since it launched in August this year, as well as our writers. We humbly thank everyone who participated.
Originally from Canberra but now based in Melbourne, Jonny Telafone first came to the wider public’s attention via the Dream Damage label/blog, where several of his cassettes were sold and then digitally distributed. He’s always been a hard guy to pin down: back in 2010 his songs (‘Doomed in Love’ for instance, released in 2009) seemed to fit nicely next to that other Dream Damage luminary Horse MacGyver (what’s that guy doing nowadays, anyway?). It turned out that wasn’t the case at all, because whichever way you try to spin it, Jonny Telafone is all over the shop. Certainly not in a bad way, though.
Later material like 2010’s Wherever the Wind Blows demonstrated a more conventional, confessional approach to songwriting, echoing some of the songs he wrote as far back as 2007. Most recently, he’s released a 7 inch through Nihilistic Orbs called Ceremony. It’s a pretty confusing state of affairs for anyone with an interest in the guy, so it’s lucky that Chapter Music has compiled a Jonny Telafone best-of, which collects various tape and digital releases. It’s packaged as a CD and 7 inch package, with the 7 inch featuring four new tracks. We’ve chosen to embed something a bit older: a track called ‘Only Temporary Things’. It’s easy to run hot and cold with Jonny Telafone, but for mine, this is one of his stand out moments.