Five thoughts on xNOBBQx’s Hamburger Hill

1) There are no humans playing on this xNOBBQx record. Of course there actually are, two to be exact, but it’s more enjoyable to imagine this sound just suddenly appearing. xNOBBQx sounds like a phenomenon. If Jandek focused on rock and folk music’s negative space, then xNOBBQx seems to focus on the negative space within the negative space. xNOBBQx is a blurry scribble papered over an absence. xNOBBQx seems like a corrupted silence, or something only a fraction in existence. It’s the shadow that remains when the long hanging painting collapses from the wall.

2) The music of xNOBBQx is actually very jagged and abrupt and occasionally ugly, but because of the way Hamburger Hill is mixed, every edge is sanded into a throbbing, murmuring drone. xNOBBQx sounds like several bands playing several hills away. Only the fact of it being rock music remains. It is a truth, even though it cannot be substantiated. It is an assumption. Maybe this is just music. Maybe it has no other name.

3) It is difficult to avoid describing xNOBBQx in the same way many other writers have done for groups like The Dead C. xNOBBQx shares some sonic similarities to groups of that ilk, but Hamburger Hill is not and cannot really be a statement or a critique of the rock complex in 2014. At least not a relevant or interesting one. Instead, xNOBBQx exists even though rock music has been declared dead numerous times.

xNOBBQx relishes the decay. It celebrates it. It does not want anything to be done about it. It is rolling in the filth, maybe even taking sips from it. Not just rock music though: any sonic phenomenon that implies grit or substance, or power. It relishes the collapse of these characteristics. It relishes the death of demonstration, of emotional signposts, of narratives and interpretations. It is just a series of sounds, and because it sometimes accidentally sounds like rock music, that is what we’ll call it.

4) Adults used to tell me to avoid rainbow flavoured Paddle Pops because they were, the myth stated, the factory floor drippings of the mainline flavours, like chocolate, strawberry etc. xNOBBQx is like a rainbow flavoured Paddle Pop in this sense, and the myth is true.

5) No one could ever make a compelling argument for why xNOBBQx is an important group. This duo create the least consequential music you could ever imagine. Everything is so loosely threaded, so barely recognisable as music, that if you really assess what you’re hearing you may begin to feel like you’re just listening to things happening. Not men playing instruments, but things happening which involve men and instruments. xNOBBQx does not sound human. It does not sound measured or spontaneous. It does not sound artistic. It does not sound whimsical. It is a horrible ambiguous mess. It is transfixing.


xNOBBQx’s Hamburger Hill is available through Pulled Out Records.

New Music

Listen: The Mermaids on Breakdance the Dawn


[UPDATE: a free Bandcamp sampler has been released featuring the below releases + more]

Matt Earle’s Breakdance the Dawn label has a habit of releasing a generous handful of new CD-Rs and tapes at once. The pattern continues with nine new recordings, all available now through the label’s website. I’ve not heard any of them yet though a few samples have been uploaded, among them this three minute section from a new Mermaids release, which comes in the form of a VHS / CD-R release.

As we’ve pointed out before, The Mermaids 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 few recordings I’ve heard from the duo vary widely. The sample below – a bed of static harried by clipped vocal samples – is dramatically different to the atmospheric synth sleep of ‘Greetings in Three Languages‘.

‘Static with clipped vocal samples’ sounds like it’d be annoying, but strangely enough, there are few sharp edges to the sample below. It’s involving and evocative. I’m not sure how the VHS format factors into the end product, but expect it to be fascinating, and probably discomforting.

As for the other new Breakdance the Dawn releases, there’s stuff by xNOBBQx, Sun of the Seventh Sister, Goods Van, The Sha, Club Sound Witches, Squiding, Bad Intentions and Statis Duo. All are available as either CD-R or tapes, except the VHS tapes of course. Buy them here. Sample the rest of them here.


Photos from Fitz Fest 2013

When you go to a festival, especially one as good as the inaugural Sydney Fitz Festival, it’s very nice to go home and look at photos of it. We know this, and that’s why we’ve got a slideshow for you below. Look at that, or check out the individual photos below.

All photos of Yasmin Nebenfuhr.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


No Barbecue – Outdoor Living (CD-R)

This record is barren. If the popular depiction of apocalypse is a grand vision of cities ablaze, the one offered by No Barbecue (usually known as xNoBBQx) is marked by absence and silence. This is the aftermath: languages forgotten, foliage turned to dust, the sound of bricks dislodging from their mortar and highways cracking at their foundations.

The apocalypse is a pretty convenient visual analog to this music, with its total dismantling of structure and logic. Yet when you see xNoBBQx perform live it sounds and feels totally different – it’s a comedy of brazenly deliberate errors. With the clarity of their live presence, Nick Dan’s snare hits sound like snare hits, and Matt Earle’s out-of-service electric guitar sounds like exactly what it is. On record though, that crispness is sanded away and their playing sounds inhuman. Outdoor Living gives no impression of sentience, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone actually playing it. It’s harder still to imagine any listener interpreting this record as something other than the sound of an unceremoniously purged Earth.

I don’t claim to have heard every xNOBBQx release, but here at least, they’re not a noise rock group, or an improv group. This is a kind of dreaded, lifeless ambience, brought about by minimally fiddled electric guitar and a kit so broken it emanates nothing but erratic pulses, buried in broken-jack hiss. Across six tracks the duo rarely show signs of life, though what might pass as a crescendo does occur occasionally, like some undignified structure finally caving in.

Maybe total annihilation is the only true progress left. It’s the ultimate catastrophe to bear witness to, the final undocumentable Event, and the only total change. No Barbecue offer a brief glimpse at ground zero, via the brutal – yet sonically delicate – leveling of their chosen form. This isn’t “music”, nor entertainment. This is barely noise. It’s an impersonal and discomfortingly unromantic vision of a post-life vacuum. Ruins, with no one left to fetishise them.

Label: Breakdance the Dawn
Release date: October 2012