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LISTEN: 2017 in 10 Tracks

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In the hubbub of year-end lists we’re keeping it simple with 10 great tracks released over the past 12 months. This list does not attempt to be definitive in any way, it is simply a bunch of great tunes created by some amazingly talented artists. If you’re not familiar with any of the music listed, do yourself a favour and give it a spin, consume it in your preferred method and hold it forever in your heart/mind/soul/other intangible essence incomprehensible to human beings.

Mere Women – Big Skies

Mere Women’s album Big Skies is a more sombre affair than its predecessor, the darker mood giving their distinct brand of post-punk a rich new depth. While tracks like ‘Tin Rooves’ and ‘Curse’ saw the band exploring a more spacious, restrained sound, the title track finds them in full flight. Murky guitars, driving rhythm, and a commanding vocal delivery which charts the full gamut of Amy Wilson’s range, from brooding baritone to urgent caterwaul.

Kirin J Callinan – Friend of Lindy Morrison

Kirin J Callinan delivered (at long last) his divisive second album, Bravado. Equally complex and simple, Bravado was an assured statement from an artist not content with repeating himself. While the tongue-in-cheek humour throughout the album makes it difficult to embrace at times, there are moments of sheer brilliance which transcend any questions of the artist’s intent.

‘Friend of Lindy Morrison’ is a stone cold classic. The music could be ripped from a 1980’s pop songbook with Callinan and guest Weyes Blood trading vocals in spine-tingling fashion.

Yon Yonson – Pattern Recognition 1

Yon Yonson’s quirky and eclectic blend of electronic indie pop hit a new high point with the release of their cracking album Yes No Sorry earlier this year.
One of the edgier moments from the album comes in the form of ‘Pattern Recognition 1’, with its sleek synth bass line and tough hip-hop beat giving Andrew Kuo a chance to deliver a punchy vocal performance.

Lovely head – Show Up (Rebel Yell remix)

This dream pairing fully lived up to expectation with Rebel Yell transforming Lovely Head’s dark experimental pop track ‘Show Up’ into a pulsing industrial stomper.
Rebel Yell and Lovely Head have each had a pretty flawless strike rate to date and the future certainly looks promising for both artists.

Shady nasty – Upwardsbound

Equally influenced by post-punk, hardcore, and jazz, Sydney-trio Shady Nasty make heavy, cathartic music punctuated by the searing vocals of front man, Kevin Stathis.
Lead single, ‘Upwardsbound’, is more melodic than the rest of the trio’s self-titled EP. Cascading guitar, crawling tempo and dramatic, soaring vocals. Exciting stuff from these newcomers.

Phile – Deadzone

Phile are Sydney duo Hannah Lockwood and Gareth Psaltis, whose harrowing techno creations are not for the faint-hearted.
‘Deadzone’, the final track from their self-titled EP, begins with a squelching, syncopated acid rhythm, but just as you start to get comfortable you enter the darkness. Sinister synth chords envelop the rhythm providing a suitably haunting end to the duo’s killer debut.

Total Control – Laughing at the System 2

In the death throes of the year Total Control managed to sneak a new (mini) album into the world. Much like 2014’s Typical System, the band continue to laugh in the face of conformity jumping from insistent post-punk, to modular synth experiments, to more conventional (in Total Control terms) garage rock.

The album is bookended by alternate versions of the title track, the opener a brash cacophony of clanging chimes, fuzzy guitar and synthetic drums. But it’s the album closer which finds the band at their scuzzy best. Urgent, scrappy and loads of fun.

Jikuroux – Cradle Bay

Hot on the heels of her Ruptured Pulse EP, Sydney producer Jikuroux aka Jess Lavelle returns with another solid effort on Cradle Bay.
There is something exotic about the music of Jikuroux, the melodic elements coming off like some mutant new-age music, while the hard-hitting beats keep it firmly rooted in the modern-day bass music landscape.
The title track captures this fusion nicely with sharp synth stabs and tight rhythms counterbalanced by a smooth melodic undertone.

Setec – Cotton Bones

The first single from Setec’s forthcoming album (due out next year) further refines the delicate intimacy of his debut, Brittle As Bones.
The melancholic ‘Cotton Bones’ opens on a minimal piano loop, with spectral echoes dispersed among pitter-patter rhythms. The song gradually blooms into a bright singalong moment, as vocal layers are added atop a typically gauzy and nostalgic sample.

Ptwiggs – Exuviae

Ptwiggs’ debut EP, Purge, is a provocative and uncompromising take on bass music. A white-knuckle ride through fierce sonic territory.
The second track, ‘Exuviae’, steps up the anxiety factor with a propulsive urgency that could soundtrack some futuristic chase scene, a scene where there is little reprieve for the poor soul being chased.

LOOK: Meredith Music Festival 2017

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G’day! Here at whothehell we know that the days following Meredith can be tough. Chin up, take the rough with the smooth, never fear—you’ll feel human again before you know it. Though for now, to make you feel a bit better about the whole festival-hangover-situation, we bring you some snaps from the weekend that was (if these cannot cheer you up… well you are on your own).

We sent the illustrious Tessa Mansfield-Hung @tessamansfieldhung to the sup for MMF’17 to capture all that glittered, enjoy:

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Various Asses

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Various Asses are a force to be reckoned with. The incredible debut Loción, released via Nice Music late last year, exemplifies the self-described Body Horror aesthetic with its tough low-end, menacing samples and pummelling rhythms.

Led by Melbourne artist Raquel Solier, Various Asses is more than just amazing music. Featuring musicians, dancers, MC’s, video artists and more, the V/A family have been destroying dance floors and forging their own path with an uncompromising live show, killer film clips and a general take no prisoners attitude.

We are excited to hear that a new Various Asses EP is slated for 2018 and we can’t wait to see what else the crew has in store.

For this latest instalment of Virtual Mixtape, Raquel guides us through the diverse creative output of some of the V/A family members. Consider yourself schooled.

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Meet the Various Asses family

KANDERE

Lakyn and Ripley are Kandere; Naarm’s most progressive and relevant hip hop act.
Lakyn’s rapping is featured on the forthcoming Various Asses EP (2018) as well as being an incredible dancer for the live V/A show.

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YUM GOD

Another family member in the Filipino diaspora making bent footwork club tracks.
Future collaboration in the works between his performance at west side clubs and hosting music production workshops.

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NASHO

Total badass Serwah Attafuah, vocalist, dancer, 3D modeller and collaborator tearing down white supremacy in hardcore band Nasho.

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TRIANA HERNANDEZ

Manager, film clip director and creative collaborator of all things Various Asses.
Also a writer, bottomless pit of inspiration, commanding vocalist for Sexistential Waterfall and a name to remember.

SOPHIE GROPHY

Growing star and rapper Sophy Grophy collaborates on Various Asses’ ‘MK’94’ single.
She’s the face and voice of the next generation so we stare into her grills looking for eternal youth.

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HABITS

Mohini and Maia are the synth goth angels Habits.
Aside from being a banging producer, Mohini is an extraordinary dancer, social media icon and fashion designer that will make you look twice.

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PATRICK HASE

VR mapper, 3D modeller and video editor of our ‘Down, Down’ and ‘MK’94’ film clips, and producer and one half of dirty club act Sexistential Waterfall.

 

Website / Facebook / Soundcloud

LISTEN: Body Promise – Fantastic Effects

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body promise

Body Promise, founded by Doug Wright of Fishing fame and current FBi Radio music director, Amelia Jenner, started life as a radio show on the aforementioned station’s digital outing, FBi Click. Their passion for new and interesting club music and penchant for expertly curated guest mixes made the show a hub for forward-thinking producers across the club music spectrum. The duo has since expanded, dabbling in show promotion, making the move to FBi’s Sunsets slot, and most recently becoming a fully-fledged record label.

Drawing from their experience as purveyors of exciting local and international talent, the first outing for the label was Harmony from a Dominant Hue, a compilation showcasing the who’s who of the local Australian club underground. Just a little over 12 months later Body Promise present Fantastic Effects, which picks up right from where Hue left off. Pulling together another stellar list of primarily local artists, Fantastic Effects explores a more percussive palette, spanning outright rollers from the likes of Hot Wavs and HED Ardennes to more esoteric contributions from DIN (Rainbow Chan & Moon Holiday) and fake (aka Cassius Select).

Elsewhere, Melbourne heroes, friendships, turn in the distinctive and expansive ‘GUT ROT’, while Sydney mainstay, Tom Smith, dishes out a couple of rhythmic workouts, firstly under his T.Morimoto moniker, then later as one half of new duo Poison with fellow Sydney-sider DJ Plead.

Having already left an indelible mark on the Australian club music landscape it will be exciting to see how Body Promise grow and diversify in the future. For now, grab your copy of Fantastic Effects and while you’re at it grab a copy of Harmony from a Dominant Hue too and really set yourself up for the summer.

 

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LISTEN: Ptwiggs – Purge

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Sydney producer, Ptwiggs’ Debut EP, Purge, released via exciting new Sydney imprint Deep Seeded Records, is a white-knuckle ride through fierce sonic territory. A neon-lit dystopia where skulking, ambient synth pads are juxtaposed by a relentless rhythmic assault. Where woozy melodies and sampled Japanese vocal snippets collide in nightmarish distress, and it’s all you can do just to hold on.

Twigg’s maximalist approach shares common ground with a new breed of uncompromising bass music experimentalists like WWWINGS, Amnesia Scanner, and fellow Sydney-sider Grasps_ (with whom Ptwiggs and WA?STE recently collaborated on the track ‘Praying Waiting’). The music seems like a response to a sensory overloaded society on a seemingly inexorable march to tipping point.

The EP follows a string of equally impressive singles, ‘Cry for Ikari’, ‘Hypno Game’, and ‘Clarity’, each one adding another layer to the determined aesthetic vision which now reveals itself fully with the arrival of Purge.

These are futuristic dancefloor productions with little regard for the actual dancefloor. Refreshing, ambitious music that bullies you into the passenger seat and locks the door from the outside.

Purge is available digitally and on vinyl via Deep Seeded Records here.

 

Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Facebook

LISTEN: Raven – The night is dark, the night is silent, the night is bright, the night is loud

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Renowned Sydney cellist, Peter Hollo, has built a solid discography over the years. Aside from his work as a member of FourPlay String Quartet and Tangents, he has become somewhat of a go-to player for recording artists when strings are required. This has seen him play and record alongside a countless list of both local and international artists including Oren Ambarchi, Seekae, Holly Throsby, Lisa Gerard, Philippe Petit and many more.

His solo work and collaborations have been consistent over the years; however actual releases have been more sporadic to the point where his latest full-length, the night is dark, the night is silent, the night is bright, the night is loud, feels like his first fully realised album.

Under his Raven guise Peter’s layered cello creations draw from far-reaching influences including neo-classical, ambient, post-rock and various forms of electronic music. At times his playing is intimate and personal, at other times expansive and dramatic. His chops as a cello player will come as no surprise for those familiar with his work, but what is unexpected are the sparse, ambient pieces, peppered with delicate piano and electronic flourishes. These explorations showcase the breadth of Peter’s influence and abilities as a musician.

The epic ‘descent’, is a perfect example, beginning with sprinklings of piano set against scrappy percussive clatter and eerie pads, before a sinister synth growl threatens to swallow the piece entirely. After the turbulence subsides the growl still looms in the periphery. A territorial predator preserving its turf.

I feel it would be almost cliché to call the album cinematic as this word is overused and tends towards the grandiose, however there is an undeniable film score quality to many of the pieces. The clever, understated arrangements evoke imagery perfectly suited to the moving screen, from the anxiety-fuelled horror of ‘infestation’, to the ramshackle convoy of ‘copra’.

The night is dark… is an adventure which invites you to saddle up with it. It’s music to accompany your next expedition, be it across the globe, or across the street.

Peter is playing shows in support of the new album. You can catch him in Sydney this Thursday at Venue 505, then onto Canberra on October 21st at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery

Bandcamp / Website / Soundcloud

HOT TAKE: Alex Cameron’s ‘Forced Witness’ is good

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Alex Cameron

Junkee is a media company that exists to get clicks, sometimes they post good stuff sometimes they post shit, it’s whatever. But that article about Alex Cameron, Kirin J Callinan and Client Liason being apologist for toxic masculinity kind of seems indicative of the media’s obsession with slowly stamping out of nuance in all kinds of art.

It seems purposely obtuse for anyone to say that by representing a bad man Cameron is benefiting Australia’s problem with toxic masculinity. Firstly, from the very start it’s clear his character doesn’t have power, he’s a loser. He’s a pathetic, creepy guy, and that we can know that and still want to listen to a whole record about him is testament to Cameron’s song writing. But there’s also no Australian references at all really – from Cameron’s upward and outward trajectory you’d guess this was targeted at his new American audience – he’s lived in the states for years.

There’s no leaving your kids in the car at the RSL here, it’s all motels and superclubs and getting shat on by eagles. If you follow Cameron or his sax player Roy Molloy on facebook or twitter, yeah sure there’s plenty of Aussie as stuff, but from the record alone there’s no reason to think the character is Australian. He’s a faded vegas grifter, the kind of guy who buys nunchucks, watery eyes, too rough handshake. We’ve seen it in movies, always the character who gets killed off in a funny way. It always feel like we’re laughing at that kind of guy with Cameron, his lame faded party fantasies in ‘Hacienda’, the Vaseline-lensed portraits of twisted sheets and fucking raw. It’s like porn, funny and gross and you feel guilty for liking it but almost everyone does.

But, for sure, I won’t tell gay people how to feel about the F word. If someone hears ‘Marlon Brando’ and it makes them feel degraded, regardless of context, that fucking sucks and Cameron should have found some other way to make the character seem even viler then he already is.

I guess the main confusion in that article was that the writer obviously likes at least some of these bands, some of these songs. They call them ‘clever’, ‘well-intentioned’, even ‘jaw-dropping’. They’re constantly second guessing themselves through the whole thing. Maybe they feel weird about liking songs where a guy sings about waiting to fuck his 17 year old girlfriend until her 18th birthday. But that’s what it’s like sometimes, the world’s fucked, got a lot of fucked people in it, and sometimes artists wanna represent those characters and also make really, really good pop songs.

Cuz Forced Witness sounds slick and sexy and cool – and cheesy and bombastic and cringey, it’s all part of the world Cameron invites us into. When you rub off a bit of the grease, ‘In my dreams I miss you / and I wake up to reality’s bliss’, is a fucking romantic line. His gift is one that allows you to dance along to ‘The Chihuahua’ even if it reminds you a bit of your ex who used to always try and touch your vagina in public, and even laugh at that guy while you do it. ‘The Chihuahua’ is full of great lines ‘Chasing pussy online cuz the dog’s feeling fine and he needs it’ – hilarious, ‘love’s a diabetic sweetness, love’s a fistful of bronze jewelry’ – great stuff. There’s also that kinda dance hall feel, the fizz and swing of brass and percussion that makes this song sound light as air while the lyrics stay mucky. It’s a bummer that people think they’re not allowed to enjoy such a fun song cuz the dude says ‘pussy’ a lot in it.

Of course people like Cameron and Callinan and all the dudes in Client Liason have benefited from white male privilege. Every white man has. To put limits on the way they can comment on this privilege seems backwards and pointless. I have benefited from straight white female privilege. You’ve probably got some privilege that you benefit from. From that point we start out, then we decide what to do from there. And what Cameron’s done is a lot better than pretending to be the sad guy who never gets the girl cuz she only chases sleazebags (the kind of cliché that ‘Marlon Brando’ so perfectly skewers), or a right-on warrior for equality getting limbered up for all the dick sucking he’s about to receive.

It’s cool that somewhere with money is publishing long form music journalism with a point. But if you think about it for more than one second, there’s a lot more going on in Forced Witness than fits into this article’s opinion of what art is allowed to say. And boy, it’s GOOD.