Posts By Greg Stone

LABEL PROFILE: Nice Music

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Melbourne label Nice Music arrived fully-formed, 5 beautifully packaged releases in tow in May last year. A bold introduction from a newly-minted label, followed swiftly by 5 more releases in November. Simultaneously issuing the 5 individual releases in both series one and two was an ambitious and confident statement of intent, one that hopefully pays off for this intriguing and forward-thinking label.

While it’s easy to overlook the ease with which all the pieces fit together both musically and aesthetically, this belies the hard work going on behind the scenes in order to bring this vision to life. Like a timepiece with its sleek clock face masking the myriad of grinding gears at work beneath the surface.

When asked why he took this approach label founder Simon J Karis, himself a collector, says he is “comforted by consistency and sets of things” adding that his vision for the label was “to create something I would personally love to follow and collect…letting things happen organically out of my own enthusiasm for the material”. This enthusiasm shows in the curation and execution, something made easier by the highly active music community which Karis is a part of. “There’s so much going on here it’s overwhelming and being a hoarder or cataloguer type I worry that some of it will be missed if someone doesn’t help or push”.

The diversity across the catalogue, a result of Simon’s ‘fidgety listening habits”, is somewhat disparate at first glance but there is a common thread tying the music together, a thread I find difficult to pinpoint. When asked for his take on this Simon puts it down to the artists, who according to him are “pretty idiosyncratic thinkers stretching their wings in a very honest and productive way…everyone on the label transcends genre or label to a degree in my head at least…I like the themes and emotions in music to hit you hard in the brain or spine or bloodstream in a way that means you’re never really sure why – that’s kinda ultimate for me”.

Offering each series as a bundle is a great way for the audience to discover new music, a quality missing in the current age of steaming services and digital singles. And for collectors like Simon the catalogue is available in cassette format which, of course look nicer as a collection.

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From the warped post-modern beat abstractions of Hyde, and the seething bass music of Various Asses, to the disconcerting techno sound collage of R Hunter, this is a catalogue which begs to be explored. An insight into a thriving community of artists pushing boundaries with little regard for genre or music trends. Get acquainted and get Nice.

If you’re so inclined, check out Madeleine’s review of another Nice Music release, Sweet Whirl’s beautiful O.k. Permanent Wave

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LISTEN: Yon Yonson – Yes No Sorry

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Sydney outfit Yon Yonson have been making music since 2010, and after a string of self-released EP’s and albums they have joined forces with local label TEEF Records for their fourth full-length, Yes No Sorry.

Continuing to mine their quirky blend of electronic indie pop, this latest effort is a joyous patchwork of soulful synth jams, funk-fuelled samples and stripped-back, contemplative ballads. At certain points the music could be placed alongside the tongue-in-cheek RnB experiments of Oscar + Martin or even Hot Chip, but just as quickly shifts into some sample-heavy mutant lounge, and it’s this effortless eclecticism that gives the music a certain charm.

There is much to love here, a personal highlight being ‘Figurine’ with its propulsive beat and infectious energy. Not to mention the killer opening line, “It isn’t easy being flesh, and piss, and blood, and spit, and ugliness, with most of the light taken out of it all”.

Balancing flippant humour with sincere introspection, the songs are at times polished and confident, at other times scrappy and vulnerable. The latter like scrawled messages, placed in bottles and cast away into the vast waters of internet music archives.

Another impressive entry from the band, and another exciting addition to the TEEF roster. Grab a copy from the TEEF bandcamp store here.

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LABEL PROFILE: Provenance Records

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Stu Buchanan has been a staple of the Australian music community since emigrating from Scotland in 2003. He wasted no time in immersing himself in the local Sydney scene, launching the lauded Fat Planet program on FBi Radio later that year. According to Stu, his time at FBi gave him ‘a quick education in terms of what was going on’ and allowed him to become heavily invested in the scene.

The award-winning and far-reaching New Weird Australia project followed in 2009. A multi-faceted endeavour, it produced compilations, live shows and a long-running radio program on FBi. NWA highlighted Stu’s ear for interesting and unconventional music across all genres, as he scoured the country for emerging talent and provided a platform for their music to be heard. The project also birthed the netlabel Wood & Wire, which focussed on releases from individual artists. It clocked up some 37 releases in total, from the likes of Kučka, Pollen Trio, Setec and Fatti Frances, to name just a few.

After such a successful and prolific period, Stu made the decision to retire the NWA and Wood & Wire projects – firstly due to the energy and focus required to maintain such high levels of output. And secondly, he felt there were more ‘great writers, radio shows, websites and gig series, all promoting similar artists,’ which gave him the peace of mind to bring these platforms to a close.

Never one to rest on his laurels, though, Stu recently launched brand new label Provenance Records. When asked about the origin of the label, Stu notes that first signing, Medicine Voice (aka Sar Friedman), was in some ways responsible for him setting up the label. ‘Sar sent me the album I And Thou a couple of years ago and asked if I wanted to release it. I adored it, to me it sounded like Bat For Lashes backed by Sunn O))) – a beautiful combination. But I had already wound down NWA and didn’t have a record label, so I declined. Another year went by, and Sar asked me again. I thought, “If no one else is going to release this, I’ll just need to start a label and release it myself.” And here we are.’

Although Stu cites the huge output of his previous projects as a reason for their ultimate conclusion, Provenance has certainly picked up the mantle, already responsible for 8 releases in 2016 alone. Working with both new and familiar artists, the Provenance catalogue is forging its own eclectic and challenging path – from the lo-fi psych-folk of outsider artist Paneye and the dark pop balladry of Lovely head, to the electronic abstractions of Canberra’s Spartak.

Due to the idiosyncratic world which Provenance inhabits, Stu admits that ‘sometimes you can feel like you’re pushing shit uphill and getting nowhere, but then sometimes people surprise you. Some places that I thought would be into it have been unresponsive, but the converse is also true. Which is frustrating and validating in equal measure. So it’s been a process of recalibrating my own expectations. It’s a weird fucking time to be releasing music. People don’t “buy” music the same way they did even a year or two ago, so every release involves some kind of adjustment.’

In addition to new albums from Aphir, Kris Keogh, KAIA, and Sensaround due in 2017, Stu is also considering hosting live shows again. This time around he wants to go beyond the conventional ‘gig’, instead looking to combine multiple artistic mediums in interesting and unpredictable ways. Reminiscing about the first event he ever staged, Stu says, ‘I miss those kind of unexpected happenings – where the audience doesn’t necessarily know what’s going to occur next, where no one feels safe. That’s the kind of shit I want to do next.’

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LISTEN: Bilby – Botanicals LP

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Bilby is the musical alias of Sydney artist and self-proclaimed emo-rap prince Harry Moxham, whose latest album, Botanicals, has just been released via Yes Rave.

Botanicals is a refreshing take on Australian hip hop, combining the lazy guitar of early Real Estate or Canberra’s Fossil Rabbit with sleek vocal hooks, trap beats, and infectious raps delivered with an adolescent exuberance not dissimilar from Yes Rave label founder Simo Soo.

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The understated execution and casual local references give it an authenticity absent from a lot of modern hip hop. Lyrically Moxham glides from poignant social commentary (“He wouldn’t shake my hand because I’m wearing pink, but you wish he could think as good as he can drink”) to jokey, endearing couplets (“Catch me Sideshow Bobbing with a rake. Catch me Apple bobbing with your date”). He tackles misogyny, bigotry, and the everyday pressures faced by young people today. All with a playful nonchalance that feels nothing if not honest.

The perfect soundtrack to be bumping this summer. Grab Botanicals as a ‘name your price’ download from the Yes Rave bandcamp store here.

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: 100%

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Brisbane trio 100% make synth-driven post punk brimming with infectious grooves carved from primitive drum machine rhythms and suitably stony vocals.

Their self-titled debut, released via the always on point Moontown records in April last year, is a fully realised declaration, perfectly capturing the group’s musical vision. Their sound is a culmination of their diverse influences, from 80’s pop divas and 90’s house music, to their other musical projects including Rebel Yell, Cannon, and Heavy Breather. All of which makes perfect sense in the final result.

On ‘Lost Youth’, the lead single from their forthcoming EP You are 100%, the trio continue to deliver the goods with their most irresistible offering to date, along with an accompanying film clip which visually captures the mood of the song.

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For the ninth instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series the individual members guide us through some of their favourite movie soundtracks, a suitable theme considering some of the initial influences on the group’s sound were gleaned from synth-heavy film scores.

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Grace’s Selection:

HACKERS (1995)

I only watched Hackers about two years ago, stupid!! Fashion, music, the total misrepresentation of what they thought the future would be. The film follows teen hackers who rollerblade everywhere and hack into huge company computers for fun. Angelina Jolie is a total babe and I’m still searching for a mad quicksilver rashie that she reps during the film.

‘Halcyon On and On’ by Orbital (named one of the most inspirational/emotional songs of all time) opens the movie, it starts slow and builds and builds until that beat drops and you’re in the bloody groove 3 mins into the 9 min song (thank god it’s 9 mins). P.S. please also watch the film clip, it is made from BBC planet earth footage.

[Grace also designs and sells great stuff under the name Halcyon On + On]

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‘Cowgirl’ by Underworld, woah. This started me down a whole new path of dark tech. Repetitive, builds, drops, it is just so hypnotising. The little snares and shakers that keep adding one by one to create the hype before the bass drum kicks in is something that helps inspire ideas for the drum beats I create in 100% (obviously not at the pace of this song!).

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Of course ‘Voodoo People’ features in the final hack of the film. Jolie says “alright lets boot up” and then commences The Prodigy’s greatest track (~controversial~). All these songs are insanely captivating for me and possibly due to their repetitive nature, I just love them. Hackers for life.

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DRIVE (2011)

The Drive soundtrack is everything right about the music I love today. Synths, arpeggiators, electric drums, what more can I say. The score by Cliff Martinez drives [ 😉 ] the whole film with added bonuses of songs from College, Kavinsky and The Chromatics. Accompanied by Ryan Gosling’s face in a neo-noir crime thriller.

‘Tick of the Clock’ is another one of my slow build favourites. Not much really “happens” in it, but the underlying groove is something I could be absorbed in for hours.

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College & Electric Youth’s ‘A Real Hero’ is easily one of my favourite tracks on the album. It’s sad and beautiful, that’s all I can really say.

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If I had to pick a favourite of Kavinsky’s, I could not go past ‘Night Call’. An absolute groove, slow but punchy drums and a synth line that sticks with you. The vocals change between a distorted robotic male and a soft female vocal right at the point where a new synth sound comes in. It’s a perfect combination.

I never have and don’t think I ever will, get sick of listening to this soundtrack. A+++

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Lena’s Selection:

SUSPIRIA – GOBLIN (1977)

Music like this just becomes embodied by the scenes it’s given to. Goblin are intrinsically linked with filmmaker Dario Argento and the collaboration for the film Suspiria is one of the finest musical-cinematic scores in collaboration. You can get haunted with synesthesia from the sound of the italian technicolour seeping into this track. Its divine and sickly. I would love to see this performed by the Goblins live, but I would probably blindfold myself out of fear. Great original scores fill you with feeling and there is delirium in this opening number, regret and momentum. Drop out of Ballet school or else, become a witch.

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PRETTY IN PINK (1986)

I have an indefensible love for Brat Pack films and this, in conjunction with a desire for the macabre in the likes of Suspiria for example, is something I hope can come through in a project like 100%. Pretty in Pink is absolutely the best one in my opinion, it covers all the necessary ground and has a gorgeous soundtrack. I think that John Hughes would have by the time this film came through, conditioned some sense of responsibility for the taste of an audience who came out to see these films, as well as cutting ground for bands on the edge at that time. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s ‘If You Leave’ was written for the film and is the kind of cheesy bittersweet ambiguous love notes you want for an end credits-roll piece. Take note, we’ve written one for our next release and we’ll do it again.

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Chloe’s Selection:

THE WEDDING SINGER (1998)

I’m not usually one for rom coms, but this Adam Sandler masterpiece pulls my heart strings. The films aesthetic and soundtrack resonates with 100%, it’s cheeky and fun. I highly recommend purchasing the soundtrack – The Wedding Singer volumes one and two, you won’t be disappointed. Adam Sandler plays Robbie Hart, a hopeless romantic wedding singer and he’s never looked better.

The opening of the film features the song ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ by Dead or Alive, sung by Sandler. This wedding party scene has it all, shoulder pads, mullets, breakdancing, cocktails and an outrageously large wedding cake. Everything I could ever wish for. This song is an upbeat 80’s synth hit, and matches the scene perfectly.

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‘Blue Monday’ by New Order is a personal favourite. It mixes a 70’s disco vibe with dark 80’s synth pop, both genres I am hugely inspired by. It’s a perfect sad dance track, just over 7 minutes long with driving drums and bass. This is a sound that greatly influences my synth playing. The song is heard during the club scene, neon lights and disco balls throughout.

‘White Wedding’ by Billy Idol is another favourite featured in the movie. Billy idol makes a guest appearance as himself in this film, seen sporting his signature biker wear and bleached hair. Hot hot hot.

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And how could I leave out The Boss. I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live twice now with my dad, both times were inspiring and captivating. Springsteen’s energy and antics on stage is like nothing I’ve ever experience before. He’s a powerful rocker, giving it all. ‘Hungry Heart’ is a neat 80’s rock ballad, with a funky keyboard part to match. Five stars.

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You are 100%, the forthcoming EP from 100% is due out on Moontown Records soon so stay tuned.

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LISTEN: Friendships – ‘Nullarbor 1988-1989’ LP

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Melbourne based audio/visual duo friendships return with their new album Nullarbor 1988-1989, a tribute to the arid stretch of land that separated the duo in their respective home towns of Jerramungup and Footscray.

This is a truly original work that the duo admits may not appeal to all fans, but as they have stated “it’s exactly what we wanted to create and is exactly what we want to say.”
Gone are the playful, feel good vibes, replaced with pummelling rhythms and sinister, rolling bass lines. This is not dance floor elation. This is dance floor decimation

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The album wastes no time in making its intentions known. Opener ‘Big Farm in the Sky’ slowly unfurls with an ascending amen break and simmering synth arpeggios which give the track an air of euphoria. But from then on it’s straight down to business, and things don’t let up until the album’s death knell. This comes via the film score sparseness of album closer ‘Keep Smiling At Me Like That And You’ll Be Picking Your Teeth Up Out Of The Gutter’, with its pensive piano chords set against mechanical noises recalling petrol monsters roaring down the highway, or the cold, indifferent steel of the abattoir killing floor.

And whilst the musical cues come from around the globe the album is undeniably Australian. Whether it’s the thematic elements explored by the duo, the accompanying imagery, or the spoken word passages and their unsettling evocation of violence and menace; this is an unflinching ode to this harsh, at times nightmarish land.

Watch the stunning video for ‘The Roof’ below and grab the full album here.

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LISTEN: TEEF Records – Imperium In Imperio II

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Tommy Faith, founder of the always entertaining and on point Australian music blog Sound Doctrine, started TEEF Records in 2014 and has since clocked up a string of cracking releases from relative newcomers Spirit Faces, Anatole, Arthur Wimble and, most recently, Yon Yonson.

Mid-last year TEEF released Imperium In Imperio, a compilation of exclusive tracks from a veritable goldmine of local talent including Collarbones, Setec and Electric Sea Spider amongst many others. While the TEEF roster leans towards bedroom pop and electronica, the extensive list of artists featured on the compilation cover a lot of ground, stylistically speaking, without losing the sense of cohesion needed to make such releases succeed. And to top it off, the profits from the release were given to OXFAM’s Nepal relief fund, after a devastating earthquake struck the South Asian country in May last year.

Here we are a little over 12 months later, and Tommy’s at it once again with Imperium In Imperio II. Keeping with the eclectic nature of the first compilation, the 18-track second instalment features a slew of great artists with equally diverse and engrossing offerings – from the exquisitely squashed hip-hop entry from Sampa the Great, and the hypnotic warmth of Tracy Chen, to the ghostly 2-step groove of IljusWifmo. Once again the proceeds will be donated to OXFAM, this time for the Syrian refugee appeal, helping OXFAM provide food, water and sanitation to some of the 13.5 million people who have fled their homes over the last five years.

Grab this amazing compilation now and not only will you support this great cause, you will also show some much deserved love to your new favourite label, TEEF.

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