New Music

LISTEN: Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing – Songs of Sodomy and the Compost of Aethyr LP

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If I told you that you could get a special edition of Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing‘s latest record with a wooden box of tarot cards, would you think that was lame or cool? Or be completely unsurprised, considering the name? What if I told you this record heavily featured flutes, some of the least sexy sexual lyrics AND the most terrifying vocal performances in recent memory? Well good news, it doesn’t matter! Genre is nothing, all your ideas about what makes something good or bad or cool or lame are arbitrary – and this album will blow your brain out if you let it.

There’s a lot here – 18 songs, a double album by anyone’s standards. It takes patience to get into – I’ve been trying to write about it for weeks but for a while I was getting confused and turned around more and more every time I listened to it. It’s slow and fast, messy and clean, unfolding with marching ominous repetition, tap tapping on the inside of your skull, building pressure over 6 minutes tracks as well as over the whole 90 minute-ish thing. Horns and strings see-saw wildly over and through these songs. Some feel like baroque and serious almost-folk-metal, some almost straight hardcore, when the crunch of distorted guitar gives a conventional rock dog like me something to hold on to.

There’s also a strident kind of post-punk at its heart. Something like ‘Pacific Hygiene’ could be a Mere Women song, half drowned in oil and set on fire. ‘Out of Zone’ is formidably good, low rumbling guitars jostling around a desperately spiteful rasping shout that could break bones; ‘LVX’ is brutally cynical, teasing and hectoring vocals that explode into screeching hysteria, while ‘Lustration’ shows the hopelessness lurking underneath the surface of all rage – droning slow and dangerous. There’s a real ‘last chance to save your soul’ feeling to all the performances on this record. Despite its length, it stays brutal all the way through

It’s not that the lyrics are inaudible or distorted, they’re just drawn-out and obtuse, slipping through your fingers in abstraction and long words. By sound they’re all rooted in plague, degradation, puritanism, lost faith and clung-to hatred.

Information that I should have introduced earlier: Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing are from Auckland. From the little I know of New Zealand (though, like everyone in Australia, I idealise it as a chill paradise and plan to move there ‘sometime’), Auckland is considered less cool and culturally vibrant than Wellington, but those kind of places tend to produce the weirdest art – when you’ve got something to be outside, when you’re not constantly supported by a scene of creatives. Maybe you’d be more pissed off, more likely to make something as fucked up as this grim, great album.

You can buy Songs of Sodomy and the Compost of Aethyr, with tarot or without, via bandcamp here

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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.

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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: Half High – Rubble Indent EP

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Half High

Half High is the work of Sydney Artists Lucy Phelan and Matthew P. Hopkins. Their latest three song, 30 minute EP has arrived right on the heels of their previous release Deserted Squares Under The RainHowever, it’s an entirely different beast from the pure crystalline sounds of that recording with it’s long emotive silences, where buzzing mechanical noise was used as rhythmic devices, to deliver small shocks to stop the music fading into the background.

Deserted Squares… is a beautiful mixture of ‘natural’ sounds – electronic ripples and whispers, with industrial undercurrents breaching the surface every now and then. It’s the kind of ambient music that draws vibe and mood from silence and stillness. Rubble Indent  is wholly intrusive. It invades the space around you creating a character that is unnerving, unpredictable and harsh.

Gone are the chimes and ripples, there’s no pretence of naturalism here – this is a kind of practical music, the sound of motions and actions repeating, energy being built up then deconstructed in surprising and uncomfortable ways.

Phelan and Hopkins are also visual artists, whose live shows are as much about picture as sound. You will lose something when listening to this music without visuals, but it’s also startling how readily your brain will create its own given the droning stimulus.

Phelan also plays hard-hitting and inventive dance music under the name Lucy Cliché, though I’d find it hard to draw too many comparisons between the two – maybe those heavy crashing beats, cement against metal, brain against skull, cycling faster and harder towards the end of ‘Glorious Glug’. But that’s probably a stretch.

Rubble Indent‘s second track, ‘Ground Grey’ is comparatively pretty to begin with – the ambient sounds of a space prison yard, of an empty robotic future. My favourite part comes towards the middle of ‘Send Caresses’ – a seething ocean of sharply sparkling noise punctured by dark whale-like sounds.

Honestly, I don’t listen to much stuff like this cuz I’ll have a weird time for the rest of the day – I’m too easily effected by mood in music. But this EP is just so impressively constructed, such a beautiful piece of sound art that I keep coming back for more unsettling noise, more strange and sinister droning to freak out the work day.

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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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LISTEN: Hannah Kate – Late Brunch EP

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Much like Madeleine, I’ve been somewhat caught in the throes of the debut record from Dag outta Melbourne [ml: … Brisbane first]. I know it’s strange to start off a post about one artist by talking about another, but the shambling melancholic cloud of a record like Dag’s Benefits of Solitude hangs over you with a tenacity that can only be dissipated by something as shining and delicate as Hannah Kate‘s debut EP, Late Brunch.

As something that exists solely in vibrations, music has an incredible ability to make humans want to ascribe it emotional weight and meaning. But, to me, Kate’s collection of six songs has a grounded intimacy that seems undeniable. Warbling guitar chords that float on deep inside your ears with Kate’s youthful yet retrospective lyricism and loose drums.

These songs live and die in spaces that can only ever be inhabited by one or two people at a time, the production of the EP holding everything very close together. The only thing that’s allowed to float away is Kate’s voice, twirling off within some reverb up above.

It’s a strong first effort, a nice dose of singer-songwriter focus within a wash of bedroom guitar recordings.

If you’re in Melbouren, get down to the EP Launch on Thursday March 23, with Culte and Weatherboards

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LISTEN: Beloved Elk – Distractions LP

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Beloved Elk are a band of great focus. Whether or not you see nobility in their gaze being so consistently directed at human connections, trauma and anxiety is a personal feeling. But there’s something to be said about the boldness of duo Amy Wright and Tina Nyugen dissecting their deepest-selves on record over the course of three E.P.’s, and now their debut album Distractions.

Writing on the production of the record, Wright speaks of a healthy dissonance in the band, and discusses the influences and overall intent of the record.

“We took all of May 2016 to home record the album in the shed at my place. Most of the songs were just guitar chords and vocals to begin with and each morning we would write out new guitar lines together and Tina would come up with drum parts on the day.”

Aside from splitting lead vocals and drumming duties separately, we shared all the guitar, bass and keys playing down the middle. Kinda fighting over each instrument and picking whichever takes sounded best…. I wanted to do all the arranging from scratch and in one hit during the recording of the album itself to keep all the songs unified together in tone and feel…”

Distractions is a collection of sombre, twinkling guitars; clattering experimental drumming; and Wright’s wrenching, mournful vocals. The pieces create a sound that is absolutely sincere and melancholic, working together to form a complete, fully-realised whole.

“It was really inspired by late ’90s Modest Mouse, Cat Power and the Drones when making the album. I intentionally minimised the use of effect pedals and overdubs so it would be as raw and immediate as possible. I was feeling very courageous going in to recording it and wanted to make something that would be challenging to listen to in parts but would take risks and cut through, wanting the delivery to be bold, brave and nuanced… recording it ourselves meant we just had no personal boundaries in what we could do in the room. Even if it meant screaming til our voices were gone.”

“The album covers a lot of ground but ultimately keeps coming back to the two main themes of feeling out of place in society/cut off/not belonging — and feeling overly sensitive, having immense difficulty connecting or reaching out.”

Distractions is out now on LISTEN Records.

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WATCH: Pillow Pro – ‘Beyond the Rave’

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Pillow Pro

Melbourne two-piece Pillow Pro pull a kind of bait and switch with their new video, stunningly directed by Lara Kose. At first it’s a couple of cool girls in hoodies walking down monochrome Melbourne streets – sitting at the laundromat, looking at derro stuff etc. But then it fades into a kind of dream-sequence sun-dappled and soaked in colour.

Though the down-tempo beats and chorus of ‘Pick up your phone / been waiting / I’ve been down too long’ suggest a romantic kind of longing, it doesn’t seem much like they need anyone else. This video seems to posit that maybe all the shit you do with your best friend killing time until your lover calls you back is actually the interesting part. Especially if that shit involves dressing up in the cutest fucking cowgirl outfits I’ve ever seen (will pay any money to cop btw – madeleine@whothehell.net) and lounging on li-los with umbrella drinks and curly straws.

It’s girly, embracing all the loading bullshit that comes with that term. Its pastel-toned and pretty, wistful and sassy in equal parts. It feels luxurious, from the pristine quality of the production to the beautiful costuming and the languid slow-mo. Pillow Pro have said they were inspired by ‘90s pop videos, and this definitely comes through – though updated with all the fun and none of the daggy-ness. It’s a pure and confident statement of intent from a band who seem to have a huge year ahead.

Pillow Pro are playing at Rack Off in Melbourne on March 4th. That’s DEFINITELY where I’d be if I didn’t have to be somewhere else.

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