Melbourne artist Andrew Cowie (aka Angel Eyes) returns with his debut full-length under his Match Fixer guise.
As Match Fixer, Cowie occupies a somewhat similar musical realm as with Angel Eyes but with more focus on rhythm and less on the abstracted pop elements of the aforementioned project. The atmospheric synths remain but the cavernous vocals and processed guitar are replaced with crunching percussion and forensically assembled sonic detritus.
Following his amazing 2014 split with Glass Bricks and more recently, the Attempts EP via Nice Music, the aptly titled Rubble is far more complex each piece layered with a manic intensity. The title itself could easily refer to the harsh percussive elements, which sound as if they have been torn from a metal scrapyard, or to the curious sounds emerging from some vast, smouldering wreckage.
Where the split honed in on an idea and slowly developed it over time, Rubble seems less disciplined instead moving with a restless energy, ideas teased at, sometimes quickly abandoned, other times revisited and fleshed out further. Dynamics are key here, shifting from an anxiety fuelled overload then stripped back to exposed and unassuming rhythms left to stutter away while various other elements drift in and out of the mix.
It seems obvious to draw parallels with outer space or science fiction, but to me there is an undeniable link. A link further reinforced by the cover image, which at first glance could be the remains of a destroyed spacecraft. Taken from Restricted Areas, a series of photographs by Russian visual artist Danila Tkachenko’s, the images depict abandoned structures and harsh frozen landscapes which could provide the cinematic backdrop to some stark, future dystopia. A scene that could very well be soundtracked by Match Fixer.
Rubble feels epic in scope, each piece intent on travelling its own path while remaining part of a greater whole, like some amorphous organism with its expansive colonial networks. The album is available digitally and as a limited edition cassette via the Match Fixer bandcamp page here.
At an art show in a convict-built gunpowder warehouse in Hobart someone brings up Sarah Mary Chadwick. They’re telling a story about a New Year’s party where they’d turned off the party songs playing at midnight to belt out songs from 9 Classic Tracks. ‘Have you heard the new one?’, I ask. They say they haven’t. ‘It’s much much sadder’, I say ‘it’s really… hard’. Their eyes light up. ‘Oh fuck yeah.’
Is it unfair to call our love of public sadness a kind of fetish? We respect people who spill their guts in public because in real life it still feels kind of illicit. Like when you start to get into an unexpectedly deep conversation with a not very close friend and start telling them about an ex boyfriends dick problems or some mutual friend you actually hate or how you once took a lot of pills ‘just to see what would happen’, and then afterwards feel that rush of regret. Revealing ourselves feels good, until the shame hits.
But this record. This record is harrowing. It’s hard to look at right in the eye, real depression. When you’ve made so much of your life about being an unlucky sadgirl. Then you realise you’re pretty well adjusted and life is not bad. And THEN a record like this comes along and puts you on your knees with its power. That weak part of you hopes that it’s kind of put on, a bit of artistic licence to make a record. Maybe at shows she makes a couple of jokes about what a downer it is, says something ironic to lighten the mood. But right here and now all we have is this music.
Gone is the one-organ show and tinny dance beats. The minimalism and slight dinkiness that alleviated some of Roses Always Die’s darker moments. On first listen Sugar Still Melts… might have you begging for a hint of a drum machine. Something that takes you, if not to the dance floor than at least to the corner of the bar, swaying your hips and looking come-hither at whoever catches your eye. But instead it just builds and builds, the enormous weight. ‘It’s Never Ok’ is so dramatically catchy, the music sounds like she’s about to turn it all around and bust out some great empowering life affirming line that just never comes. The chorus is ‘I’ve got a lifetime of practice/ at keeping the hurting inside/ and tying myself to a lover/ who can’t tell I’m even alive’. I interviewed Chadwick once and she talked about the image of ‘Life Is a Cabaret’, this huge sad show tune at the end of the musical Cabaret. And even though she was talking about Roses Always Die at the time it feels even more apt for this record, especially in the beginning with songs like ‘Flow Over Me’ and ‘It’s Never Ok’. It’s full of showstoppers that leave you bruised but like you want to go back and feel it over and over again.
We (listeners, music writers, whoever) often want artists to grow and progress in a recognisable narrative. We like breakup albums followed by love albums followed by ‘mature’ records about life and art. We like stripped back acoustic records followed by balls-to-the-wall highly produced pop records followed by a nice middle ground. The way Sarah Mary Chadwick is growing is something hard to recognise. To say her records are getting sadder is reductive. Nothing comes close to the dewy sweetness of something like ‘Aquarius and Gemini’ off Nine Classic Tracks, but really it’s about diving deeper and deeper into the feelings that have been around forever. She’s rejecting another kind of narrative too, the one about grief, the ‘time heals all wounds’, the one that tells people to stop talking about it, to stop making people uncomfortable. ‘Dancing Slowly’ is a heartbreaking picture of how you can become trapped in moments that have defined you, getting stuck and watching the world pass you by, needing help but knowing no one can give it ‘I just need a lighthouse/ I just need some energy’.
She’s still a searing judge of character, the way she strips an ex-lover down on ‘Bauble on a Chain’ is not so much a ‘fuck you’ as a ‘fuck me for falling for it’. For real people grief can make you difficult, morose, hard to be around. God forbid, ‘negative’. But when you can turn it into a kind of art it also makes you attractive to people who want to seem deep and understanding. Chadwick sees through this – on that song her lover reveals themselves as wanting something a lot prettier than anything she’s got to offer; ‘you want a prop with only lines / that ask your favourite things to eat / and then enquire about your day’. And she’s realising how this all sounds even as she’s singing it ‘when I describe it / this has no semblance to love after all’. That familiar feeling coming to the end of a relationship or friendship and wondering what the hell that was.
All her world-weary knowingness is stripped away in the heartbreaking ballad ‘Five Months’ with its almost childlike rhymes ‘five months without you is too long / so come back when you hear this song’. This is one of the few songs on the album where it doesn’t seem like Chadwick is commenting on her own feelings while she’s singing about them. Every now and then she’s slip in some reference to second-guessing if she should be making these big statements, like in opening track ‘Flow Over Me’s’ lines; ‘some of us can take it / some of us don’t make it/ some of us are fakers only ever be heart breakers’ and ‘all tied up inside my mother / never really knew my father / this is boring to you’, but ‘Five Months’ she gives in to naked wishful thinking. It’s a delicate song, a dream world this close to falling apart.
I go back and forth over whether there’s something to take from this record. I don’t think there has to be, I think as a thing, as a document from a person who’s gone through more than any of us have or probably ever will, it’s beautiful and worthy and basically above analysis. But maybe there’s a hint in ‘Wind Wool’s slowly lilting piano ballad of fighting your own brain, giving up, memory and friendship. It’s one of the record’s shortest and simplest songs, and gives us the line ‘I’ll die/ you died/ we die’. But she also seems to rally something close to a knowing smile in ‘some people think skies should be blue all the time but me I love a storm.’ Maybe this is the sentiment that us great fetishists of sorrow identify, or desperately want to identify with, that feeling of getting a little thrill as the dark clouds gather, to love that cleansing destruction of a good hard rain.
Reuben Ingall has many faces, somber avant-pop mangler, drone experimentalist, abstract beat maker, jocular mashup artist, and although his oeuvre is far-reaching there are distinct elements that join the dots, one of which is his guitar. His homemade effects can change the sound of his guitar from spacious reverberation to complete audio destruction, the instrument used to generate noise rather than melody and in some cases pushing the sound as far from the original source as possible.
Thread, his latest collection released via Canberra label hellosQuare recordings was recorded between 2015-2018 and spans pastoral acoustic pieces, reminiscent of Richard Youngs’ folk dabbling’s, meditative ambience, and sprawling, barren post-rock. And while Reuben did not set out to make a guitar-based album, in fact he states he “shied away from the guitar as an obvious source”, once he had 3-4 arrangements he was happy with he decided guitar would become the focus for the album.
Field recordings also play an important role, at times sounding like an extension of the guitars organic, earthy tone, other times placing the music in a context that is uniquely Australian. As to his approach, Reuben says “the writing of melodic and harmonic material mostly comes after my initial ideas around a way of recording and arranging and treating a sound.” This concentration on sound is another common element that runs through much of his work, but for those familiar with Ingall’s music you can’t help but expect to hear his melancholy vocals, fortunately the unfolding arrangements need no help keeping the listener engaged.
In addition to the music, Ingall has also created accompanying visuals for two of the pieces, each perfectly capturing the respective mood. The perpetually rolling topography of ‘Sediment’ simulates the vastness of the music, while the dizzying kaleidoscope of ‘Floriade’ mimics the flickering arpeggios. Always true to form the visuals provide another outlet for Ingall’s experimentation, the latter clip composed of footage taken with a phone camera attached to a cordless drill, the YouTube description claiming “no processing, only a dozen edits”.
Thread adds another notch to Ingall’s ever-expanding belt, an artist consistently pushing boundaries and continually innovating.
Wives are from Canberra and they know how to do it!
*link to video*
End of article.
Nah, we promise this is still a serious music blog. So, Wives are from Canberra and they know how to make music that makes its point, hits hard, no frills, no fuckaround. This new single is post punk at its best, minimal, cutting and cool. The video does everything that good Australian horror does – juxtaposes our perfect landscape with deeply flawed white culture. Beautiful pink galas and native flowers, framed in soft pastels, the chorus breaking into a scene from Summernats – a car festival that seems to attract an especially rabid kind of rev head.
Personally I love a good old fashioned rally down a mountain, but what’s happening here, either in fact or in clever editing, is something that seems about to boil over with violent excitement. Burnouts and shirtless dudes in speed-dealers and sombreros, terrible cars souped-up to all hell. It’s ugly.
The concept is clear, but never over explained. The refrain of ‘let sleeping dogs lie/ no comfort in this home’ will be familiar to anyone who’s felt the extreme discomfort of broad, hyper-masculine Australia. They perfectly capture the can’t-look-away fear of a drunken ‘sporting’ spectacle in ‘I peer inside / the white dogs mouth open wide’.
This is one of the most commanding tracks I’ve heard in ages, and I can’t wait to hear more from their new LP Doomsday, out April 4 on Black Wire Records.
In anticipation of their forthcoming album New Bodies, instrumental quintet Tangents deliver a new EP featuring album cut ‘Arteries’ along with two more new tracks.
On opener, ‘Stents’, the processing and production of Oliver Bown isn’t as immediately apparent, the band instead opting for a sound more akin to their live form. The flittering thrum of the electronics still provides the pulse, while the piano and cello parts gently inhale and exhale giving the controlled frenzy of Evan Dorrian’s drumming freedom to explore. As the track approaches a mid-point this balance soon shifts as Bown takes control, the drums swallowed up and spat back out in pummelling drum n bass rhythms, while the band paints in wild brush strokes across the musical canvas before a sputtering dissolve.
‘In the Beginning’ has a far more spacious feel, at times recalling the sparse post-rock landscapes of Talk Talk. As with ‘Stents’ the piece gradually morphs into something altogether different, in this case slowly building to a blissful, hypnotic crescendo as a perpetual drum loop and floating piano collide until neither is recognisable against the enveloping milieu.
Final track, ‘Arteries’ feels similarly sparse to begin, the undulating piano, subtly affecting guitar, and almost celestial atmospherics giving an air of euphoria, a mood that suits the bands sound perfectly. Flickers of this could be heard on their previous album – the final act of 12-minute opus ‘Oberon’ springs to mind – but this feels more fully realised here, an exciting preview of how the group has evolved since we last heard from them.
As with their previous effort, Stents + Arteries is released via U.S. label Temporary Residence who will also release the new album due out later this year.
Sydney artist Bilby (aka Blinky Trill, aka Harry Moxham) returns with a new EP, Walkin 2 the Lake, a precursor to the full-length follow up to 2016’s Botanicals. Here Bilby enlists the help of US producer Meltycanon, whose whimsical beats meld seamlessly with Bilby’s playful rhyme schemes and silky hooks.
Across its 5 tracks the EP finds Moxham playing many roles; Bilby the romantic on opener ‘ILY+YLM’ (released on Valentine’s Day no less), Bilby the blunted jokester on ‘Barnaby Joints’, or Bilby the critic on ‘Sydney Rapper’. The latter a commentary on his disillusionment with the local rap scene, a sentiment no doubt shared by many of his fans. And why not? There is very little common ground with Bilby’s music and the regurgitated clichés present in a lot of Australian hip hop. His eclectic musical taste and their influence on his own music makes more sense for it to be pegged as indie pop, or some other less restrictive genre tag.
But it’s on closing track, ‘Sittin’, where we see yet another side to the artist, a contemplative, almost despondent side that gives new meaning to his emo-rap prince title. That’s not to say he hasn’t dabbled in raw emotion before, in fact his candour is what makes his music relatable, but there’s a level of introspection on ‘Sittin’, that we’ve yet to hear from the artist.
On his upcoming full-length, Shade, Moxham takes on all writing and production duties, further developing the Bilby sound heard on Botanicals and 2 High 2 Sign High. And with the artistic growth displayed here, the album promises to be something very special.
Walkin 2 the Lake is available as a free download via Yes Rave here.
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.