Despite having plenty of things to keep himself busy (managing the Spirit Level record label, hosting a national radio show etc.), Tim Shiel has still managed to keep his own musical output ticking along, in recent years turning his focus to gaming soundtracks.
Breaking the drought of non-gaming related music late last year, Shiel has since dropped a handful of one-off songs featuring guest vocalists including Spirit Level artist Braille Face, Lucy Roleff, and Genesis Owusu. The latter on the irrepressible slice of pure joy that is, ‘Coliseum’.
From the get go ‘Coliseum’ is all summery rhythms and cascading vocal flows, but once the beat enters you can’t help but succumb to its bouncy, feel good vibes. Shiel has always had a knack for making playful, idiosyncratic electronica, but ‘Coliseum’ is straight up fire, making peace with its idiosyncrasies to earn its place on any discerning party playlist.
Listen/download via the player above and check out the wonderful video below.
Things have been a little quiet around here of late, for a multitude of legitimate (and illegitimate) reasons. Without dwelling on the dreaded 2020 – because time is just a construct right? – let’s just agree that it has been a period where plenty of things have sucked, and hopefully soon we will enter a period where things don’t suck…as much.
That being said, there has been plenty of great music released this year that, to date, has not featured on the site. So instead of letting the entire year pass, we are going to publish a bunch of brief posts highlighting some of the music that has shed light on a fairly dark time. So let’s kick things off.
On paper Party Dozen is an interesting proposition, a duo primarily consisting of saxophone and drums. But this does nothing to capture the unique thrill of the music, not to mention the sonic assault of their live show. ‘Play The Truth’ is a perfect distillation of their raucous energy; Slowly coming to a simmer with its lumbering guitar riff, before exploding into a cacophony of wild, reverberating saxophone and pounding drums. And just before you think it can’t lift any higher, a momentary lull ushers in a final shattering burst.
‘Play The Truth’ is lifted from Party Dozen’s cracking sophomore album, Pray For Party Dozen. And while you’re here, do yourself a favour and set aside a further 7 minutes to watch their stunning live performance of the track shot in the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre.
Melbourne producer Jim Sellars returns with a new album under new moniker, Yunzero. Ode To Mud, the debut release as Yunzero, follows his beguiling 2016 effort Ox Hill under the name Hyde. The name change it seems was one of convenience, opting to move away from the popular (as far as musical artist names goes), Hyde, to a somewhat more google friendly choice. But never fear, Sellars is still dealing in the distinct kaleidoscopic sound collage of his former project. Cultivating the post modernism of Oneohtrix Point Never and the spaced out productions of Shackleton in an unlikely ecosystem of world music samples, spacious field recordings, and unconventional rhythmic elements.
Long gone are the beat scene ties of his even earlier project, Electric Sea Spider; Although if you chart the interesting evolution of Sellars’ music over the years you can hear hints of his current output as far back as 2014 with his final Electric Sea Spider release, Ten Hunters. This release marked a new direction, one that spawned the complex and impossibly layered sound worlds that have become synonymous with Sellars’ work.
Ode To Mud offers more blissfully saturated sounds, but also finds Sellars delving into more hypnotic, ambient territory on tracks such as ‘Eye’, ‘Orchard 2’ and album closer, ‘Ode’. When asked how he decides what sonic direction to pursue Sellars notes that it is largely based on mood and the found sound sources he uses to create much of his music. He notes that “there isn’t much of a template for how I go about this, which is fun, but it means that a lot of end products sound different to each other, hence a lot of quieter tracks”.
With the new moniker, comes a new label with Ode To Mud being released by new comers .jpeg Artefacts. A label which, despite its relative infancy, seems to have a similarly adventurous spirit, its catalogue blurring the lines of sample-based sound art, vapourwave and lo-fi bedroom production.
Ode To Mud is available digitally and as a limited edition cassette here. Do yourself a favour and enjoy a little mind-melting sound exploration courtesy of Yunzero now.
Sydney artist Joan Banoit delivers his debut album, Clerical, an impressive collection of splintered art pop full of moody electronics and longing vocals.
Following the hazy, neo soul of his self-titled debut EP, Banoit, assisted by producer Artefact, adds surprising dimension on Clerical pushing the music beyond any easily identifiable genre.
Single, ‘Bet Me’ is a masterful piece of songwriting, the rich arrangement drawing comparisons to genre pushers These New Puritans. Brass flourishes are punctuated by military drum bursts before opening up to make way for the devastating hook, an aching commentary on the internal struggles of a long distance relationship.
The complexity and minute attention to detail make the album even more beautifully difficult to pigeon hole. But this is pop music at its core, albeit not in the traditional sense. There are memorable vocal melodies and catchy rhythms but the treatments are intriguingly fractured, cloaking the more immediate moments in a haze of esoteric electronic soundscape.
Clerical is an arresting, multi-layered album that is as equally enjoyable listening to on the surface as it is going for a deep dive. Available now through Lazy Thinking Records.
Melbourne’s Lucy Roleff returns with another taste from her forthcoming album, Left Open in a Room, following on from whimsical lead single, ‘A Woman’s Worth’.
Roleff’s enduring, folk-leaning music draws comparisons with understated artists such as Vashti Bunyan and Nick Drake. Its ageless beauty is imbued with a sense of history despite its current context, even Roleff herself at times appearing to have emerged from some mystical time capsule. This is not to say the music is in any way passé, more so that it is impervious to the fleeting (and ultimately forgettable) tendencies of some contemporary music
The songwriting on the new album is refined and confident, exposing a vulnerability in the lyrics, adding to her already rich musical universe. Latest single, ‘Sometimes Do’, exemplifies this vulnerability; a delicate harp arpeggio cradling Roleff’s exquisitely elegant vocals that appear suspended atop the sparse, pin-drop arrangements.
Left Open in a Room is due out May 15 on Lost & Lonesome, Little Lake Records (au) and Oscarson Records (eu). If you’re in Melbourne, you can catch Lucy launching the album on May 26th at Eastmint, Northcote with supports from Mindy Meng Wang & Genevieve Fry, and Pascal Babare & Band. Full event details here.
Becki Whitton is an audio engineer based in Melbourne who records under her solo moniker, Aphir. Aphir’s debut full-length, Twin Earth, was released via Provenance Records in 2017 and since then Whitton has self-released a steady stream of singles and EPs, the frequency and quality of which, highlight a restless talent with plenty to say.
Although Whitton’s music as Aphir typically leans towards the pop end of the electronic music spectrum, her most recent outings are more exploratory. Last year’s Dyscircadian ventures into more ambient territory, while Ceci n’est pas une Popfrom earlier this year, is an effortless batch of smoky, downbeat electronica. Both EPs are collaborative efforts with Whitton working alongside some of her music pals including Happy Axe, KAIAR and Dear Laika among others.
Aphir’s Virtual Mixtape taps into her recent travels, including a handful of songs that would enter her subconscious while working. Over to you Becki…
“I’ve been travelling a lot this year – I’m an audio engineer and for the first half of the year I didn’t have a studio, which meant that I was often travelling to different places to record the artists I was working with. In September I had the opportunity to visit California for three weeks and there was a whole stretch of time where I was too busy to listen to Spotify, so it was really interesting to just listen to my mind singing whatever random song it reached for to suit the moment. The songs on this playlist are a small selection of those, I guess it’s essentially a travel playlist.”
Lupa J – Drift
This is one of my favourite songs that’s been released this year. It’s about hiding parts of your identity from yourself because you’re scared they might hurt you or hurt other people which, in the first place, is such a deep thing for a song to be about, and in the second place every nuance of the production and arrangement of Drift reflects that feeling so perfectly. This song has the perfect feeling for exploring a new city at night.
Freya – Cohabitation
I started getting this song stuck in my head a lot while I was staying in other people’s houses in the States. Freya’s music is amazing – her tracks sound like a five-piece band of killer songwriters teamed up with a very expensive producer but actually it’s literally just all her. She released an album called The Fifth recently and I really hope it ends up on some best of the year lists because it absolutely deserves that.
Buzzy Lee – Coolhand
I just got into Buzzy Lee this year and I really love her stuff. I met her manager by chance when I was overseas and I was so nervous that I literally asked him what his name was three times after already being told twice. I love how this song is lo-fi but in the most deliberate, satisfying way – every sound has been carefully chosen and sits in the best possible place. Listening to this song really changes my mood in the best way every time I listen to it (which has honestly been a LOT).
Eilish Gilligan – S.M.F.Y.
One of the things I’ve been travelling for this year has been to occasionally DJ for Eilish when her band can’t play a show for one reason or another. S.M.F.Y. is the song she finishes her set with mostly, and it’s the perfect way to close because it transforms this heartbreaking experience she had into a pure moment of energy and connection with the audiences she sings to. I think is one of the best things music can do, and I’ve never seen the people in the crowd not love it.
Ravyn Lenae – Spice
This song is so cute and sexy. Mostly when people say “oh that song is so sexy” (about whatever song) I don’t really relate, but I think this is my kind of sexy song because it’s also kind of weird. This is a good song to listen to after spending a whole day navigating a new place and getting super gross and sweaty, but then finally arriving where you’re staying that night – I would say listen to this song while you’re changing out of your sweaty clothes to go to some place nice in the evening.
Here we are in 2019, but before we can fully embrace the new year in all good conscience, we must first look back at this little gem from late last year, that somehow slipped under our radars.
Alex Badham has been a staple of the Melbourne music scene for a number of years, as the banjo-wielding frontman of freak popsters Aleks and the Ramps, and more recently as one half of sultry dream-pop duo Magic Hands, with the ever-talented Lucy Roleff.
Alex returns under his new solo guise, Victory Lap, a project that finds him further honing his pop tendencies into perfectly formed nuggets of lo-fi indie goodness. Following on from lead single ‘The Afterlife’, the new single ‘I knew that I’d regret it but I did it anyway’ has a similarly playful feel with its slinky bass line and infectious groove providing the counterpoint to Badham’s endearing deadpan vocal delivery.
At first glance, the cleverly edited clip could pass for some corporate video cliché, stitching together an innocuous collection of stock video footage…that is, until the digital ghosts start to creep in. There is something unnerving about the seemingly random jumble of footage. A feeling further heightened by the subtle warping of the images, leaving you questioning what it is you’re actually watching. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, the song collapses into a psychedelic guitar breakdown as the ghosts take control and the video boils over in a melting overload of digital disruption.
If the first two singles are anything to go by, Victory Lap’s forthcoming album, Bleakend at Blernie’s is one to keep an eye out for in 2019.