Posts By Greg Stone

LISTEN: R Hunter – Exclusive Mix

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Young Melbourne-based producer R Hunter, aka Asher Elazary, inhabits an intriguing zone where found sound, noise, and techno-leaning electronic music intersect. It’s a zone he shares with other contemporary fringe-dwelling artists like Sd Laika, Amnesia Scanner, and Dedekind Cut. His debut, Estrus, released via Nice Music late last year, is a saturated deconstruction of club music, in which pummelling rhythms emerge from sludgy collages of sound, only to drown again in the frenzy. This is music to soundtrack your next anxiety-fuelled nightmare, forward-thinking, introspective and challenging.

Starting out playing guitar, Asher followed a number of musical paths before deciding to focus his efforts on electronic music – something he’d previously only dabbled in. Currently studying classical composition, Asher is interested in “electronic music that deconstructs the genre and re-contextualises it outside of club spaces”. “The idea that an artist is able to communicate their identity and life experience through a certain choice of sounds, particularly via sampling and field recording,” he says, is particularly important to him.

Asher explores memories and different emotional spaces, processing sounds via “fairly destructive audio programs” he’s written, which form the structural basis of each hellish soundscape. “I guess I found it amusing to explore my own trauma through techno and electronic music,” he explains, “probably because I am absolutely terrified of clubs”. Asher also uses his live sets to address the origins of anxiety and trauma. He spent a lot of time designing tools that allow him to remix and loop elements on the spot, and he’s created intense audio-reactive visuals that he describes as “somewhere between the Gantz Graf [Autechre] music video and the Windows 98 maze screensaver” (the latter a playful reminder that his computer is always on the verge of a meltdown).

Asher is currently working on new music, moving away from dance music formats and focussing on the noise elements. His approach to writing music has also changed, with a new emphasis on live performance.

Before we get to hear new music from Asher, he’s created this mix for whothehell.net, with music from a host of international and local artists including Hyde, Pollen Trio and Marcus (not Singing), as well as some exclusive R Hunter material and remixes. Get down and dirty for the next 45 mins.

 

Tracklist:
Young Thug – RiRi (r hunter edit)
R hunter – Cvntvtv (r hunter edit)
Dedekind Cut – Fear in Reverse
SHALT – The Treatment
Hyde – Thunder Paint
Shxcxchcxsh -SsSsSsSsSsSs
Demdike Stare – Dyslogy
Marcus (Not Singing) – To be Possessed
Doll – Fun
R hunter – BoYz ToYz
Battle Trance – Blade of Love I
LOFT – Zissou
Frank Ocean – Nights (r hunter edit)
Grischa Lichtenberger – 002_0415_09_re1214_06_re_1114_27_re_ 1014_21_re_0614_20_lv_2g_2_b
Jenny Hval – The Great Undressing
Nina Buchanan – Wet
Helm – Olympic Mess (Beatrice Dillon remix)
Motion Graphics – City Links
Pollen Trio – Moon
Yu Miyashita – The Silent Pulse
Bataille Solaire – B.M.B.S.
Yves Tumor – Perdition
Allan Holdsworth – Endomorph

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LISTEN: Spirit Bunny

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Spirit Bunny cover

Brisbane trio Spirit Bunny deal in a unique brand of noise pop, although the term ‘pop’ in this instance refers to the short, sharp catchiness of their songs as opposed to any subscription to traditional structures or formulaic song writing.

Their self-titled debut album is an explosion of overdriven synth, rollicking drums, and circuit-bent 8-bit craziness. This is electronic music with the earnestness and urgency of a live band.

Brimming with raucous energy, the band bursts out of the gates with opener ‘Disco Horesride Montage’, a suitably animated introduction followed by the equally infectious instrumental cut ‘Bunny Battles’. And even when the pace drops back on the bouncy, hip hop inflected ‘Screaming Keys’ the palpable energy remains. The band rarely comes up for breath until the latter stages of the album, where tracks like ‘CRT Screens’ and ‘Gold & Brown’ introduce a slightly more pensive mood. But even on these tracks it’s not long before the band continues their aural assault, as if rejuvenated by the brief respite.

Spirit-Bunny

Aside from the obvious influence of the chiptune scene, there are nods to bands like Battles but with a scrappy, garage band tenacity. This is not background sound to lull you to sleep, this is brash, insistent music that demands your attention.

The band are wrapping up a national tour in support of the album with just a hometown Brisbane show remaining. For those of you who missed catching the band on tour, hopefully it won’t be too long before they head out on the road again. Until then, grab a copy of this fantastic debut now.

Brisbane launch:

May 20th @ The Bearded Lady

w/ Low Season and Leavings

 

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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Sebastian Field

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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Sebastian Field is probably best known as the golden-throated front man for Canberra-based quartet, Cracked Actor. However he is also a member of gentle folksters, Burrows and more recently has focused on his solo project, the fruits of which will appear on his debut album, Picture Stone, later this year.

I first became aware of Sebastian’s work via Cracked Actor’s jaw-dropping full-length debut, Iconoclast, a work of majestic beauty underpinned by his distinctive falsetto. The band’s penchant for writing intelligent pop songs with an experimental flair carried through to the two EP’s which followed it; Upstructures, and the stripped-back Duo, both of which were released last year.

On the strength of his work in both bands, Sebastian’s solo outing is shaping up to be a cracker, and certainly one we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

For his contribution to our Virtual Mixtape series Sebastian has selected the incomparable Squarepusher, with an essay titled ‘Squarepusher’s Fantastic Obsession with Science Fiction’. Over to you Sebastian…

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Being a human (a human being) who’s been on the planet for *some* time now, my capabilities to achieve enthusiasm and excitement have deteriorated from the levels that I once used to be able to engage in. It’s a real shame. Things repeat themselves. Disappointments occur. Realities set in. It’s hard to maintain the same heights of vigorous elation that one used to feel. How bleak – but also really interesting and by proxy very exciting and enlivening to observe personally, lolz.

I can remember days when I would get so overwhelmed with anticipation for new Squarepusher music. In particular 2008’s Just A Souvenir. In the months leading up to its release, I was a bottle of bubbly, about to blow (blue tick of verification). I got it while interstate with some friends, detached from them for some time to enjoy the first listen. It was a few hours, I played it back to front a couple of times over directly into my brain through my headphones. I was so happy.

Anyway, for some reason I’ve felt it necessary to prelude this article with that introductory blurb because I think maybe it’s just nice to reminisce, isn’t it – aside from the present, all you have are your memories (which is a nice gift, really, that the experience of consciousness gives to you). Also, in being a bit self indulgent here, I feel I’ve given myself the opportunity to link to a track that has no real attachment to the overall subject, apart from being a track by Squarepusher.

Squarepusher – ‘Tommib’ (Go Plastic)

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A Band From Another Planet

For a while now, Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) has had an ever present obsession with concepts of science fiction, permeating them through his releases blatantly. It’s all the way through his releases from 2001’s schizophrenic Go Plastic to 2015’s nightmarish (and unfortunately underwhelming) Damogen Furies. The most obvious of his indulgences hitherto is perhaps the coming-to-fruition of his imagined science fiction future band, initially imagined on the aforementioned Just A Souvenir (JAS) and created in real life on his follow up release, Shobaleader One – d’Demonstrator.

In conversation on JAS, Jenkinson describes that the premise of the album originated from a daydream in which he was visited by a band performing in front of a large, glowing coathanger. The band played abstract math rock/jazz fusion/classical inspired compositions as surreal occurrences took place, such as parts of the drummers kit rapidly switching places with itself and the guitarist harnessing the ability to accelerate and decelerate time. As mentioned before, clearly an indulgence, Jenkinson tries his darnedest to replicate the experience of his daydream on JAS. It’s a lot of fun, you should listen to it if you’d like to. Anyhow, not satisfied with his efforts on JAS, he felt it necessary to have one more stab at directly replicating his vision by putting together Shobaleader One, the real life band from another planet.

Unfortunately, the (as of now) only recording put out by the band is pretty plain and underwhelming. Sorely missing the palette of Jenkinson’s solo studio abstractions, Shobaleader One – d’Demonstrator comes off as emotionless, two dimensional and really, really cold. That might be the point, even, being an alien band from another planet but the experience of sitting through the album is not very pleasant. The first track is brilliant, though, haha. I love it!

(more…)

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LABEL PROFILE: Nice Music

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Melbourne label Nice Music arrived fully-formed, 6 beautifully packaged releases in tow in May last year. A bold introduction from a newly-minted label, followed swiftly by 6 more releases in November. Simultaneously issuing the 6 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.

nm series 600

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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provenance

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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botanicals

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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