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VIRTUAL MIXTAPE: Dro Carey

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Virtual-Mixtape_Lucy-Roleff

Illustrations by Lucy Roleff

Eugene Ward has been carving a path on the electronic music scene for a number of years now. Best known under his Dro Carey alias, Ward’s music has seen him explore grime, UK garage and other forms of bass music, clocking up releases on a slew of international labels including Trilogy Tapes, RAMP Recordings and Greco-Roman.

A restlessly prolific producer, Ward also releases music under a number of other guises: the rugged techno/house-leaning Tuff Sherm, the avant-club experiments of PMM and more recently, under his given name, the Paint En Pointe album, a selection of compositions written in collaboration with choreographer Patric Kuo for a series of performances in late 2014.

On his latest single, ‘Grow Lithe’, Ward melds bubbling acid-synth and rolling garage rhythms with his typically crisp production style. The single is taken from a forthcoming EP for Australian imprint Soothsayer, expected later this year.

 

For the sixth instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series, Eugene has chosen a selection of his favourite German experimental, Neue Deutsche Welle & synth-pop 7”s.

 

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Eugene Ward:

“For my virtual mixtape I knew that I wanted to delve into something forged in those dark and wide-reaching years of teenage taste. I got into dance music somewhat late in the scheme of things, probably only when I was 16. Before that, coming out of a jazz piano background I was generally drawn to improvised, avant-garde and heavy music. Really whatever could shock me – the kind of Internet-aided audio thrill-seeking that is endemic to reclusive or introverted teenagers. So there were a lot of options as far as the areas spanning ‘pre-Dro’ music taste. The reason I chose this somewhat loose category of Neue Deutsche Welle, synth-pop and German experimental seven inches is that it remains particularly relevant and inspiring to what I do now. Hopefully as we go through the tracks you will see that this was a legendary and fertile era for sound design and electronic music arrangement, one that goes far beyond the obvious linear relationship with European techno.”

Endphase – ‘Reise In Den Tod’ from 2 Hemden & 2 Hosen Vol. 1 (2003)

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The interesting thing about this loose classification of seven-inch ‘synth-pop’ music is that since its inception in the late 70s/early 80s it has never really gone away. As such this track is taken from an earnest, dedicated early 2000s pastiche of the form. 2 Hemden & 2 Hosen was a long-running series of compilation seven-inch releases put out by the Kernkrach label, including some tracks that are so stylistically on point that you wonder if they’re actually archival rather than contemporary takes. Not the case here, however, where ‘Reise In Den Tod’ features some decidedly modern and sophisticated oscillations and filters. Yet these synth lines are backed with a genuine motorik chug and ultimately it hits the mark as far as the emotional vibe of this music – part saccharine, part gothic.

Im Namen Des Volkes – ‘Reaktorkern’ from Weisses Rauschen EP (2006)

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Im Namen Des Volkes was an alias for Matthias Schuster, whose work typically resides at the more industrial end of this music. Veteran engineer Christa Brüggemann remastered this EP, drawing on unreleased material that was originally recorded 1979-1981. Brüggemann lends this archival release some amazing heft and crispness, which allows us to appreciate the arrangements and sound design. This release brings me to one of the core reasons for my love of this music: were these not the best snare sounds going in the 1980s?  Substitute them into Yeezus or a TM88 production today and I wouldn’t blink. Drums miles ahead of their time.

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LISTEN: Curse ov Dialect – Twisted Strangers

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Curse Ov Dialect

Melbourne-based outfit Curse Ov Dialect are without a doubt one of the most interesting hip hop acts to emerge from Australia. Their penchant for surreal costumes and onstage theatrics, and their outspoken criticism of Australia’s underlying racism puts them at odds with the endless stream of generic drivel currently being churned out. Instead of weakly mimicking US hip hop, a music intrinsically linked to the culture in which it was born, they instead incorporate their own cultural perspective and experiences into a hip-hop framework.

Over the course of their output the group’s crafted a unique sound. Trawling for samples through psychedelic rock, traditional folk and various electronic oddities, they hold these seemingly disparate elements together with a hip hop backbone courtesy of beat maestro Paso Bionic. The distinctive style of each MC and the interplay between them is another defining element of the Curse, with the rapid-fire delivery of Volk Makedonski, the endearing multiple-personality disorder of Raceless and the ethereal flow of Atarangi all adding to the tapestry.

This formula has struck a chord with local and international audiences alike, with the group’s first two full-length LPs released via Mush Records. At the time, the label was leading the experimental hip-hop charge, repping artists like cLOUDDEAD, Busdriver and Aesop Rock.

Seven years on from last album Crisis Tales, Twisted Strangers finds the group in fine form, picking up where they left off – poignant, politically charged lyrics underpinned by their signature multicultural grooves. Guest spots on the album include Japanese furioso Kaigen and Hemlock Ernst, aka Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands. Herring’s been clocking up notable appearances with a number of indie rap’s finest, including Busdriver and Cavanaugh, and it’s great to count Curse Ov Dialect alongside such luminaries.

Watch the video for the title track below and grab the full album on CD or vinyl via Monotype Records or digitally via Valve Records.

Curse ov Dialect will be launching Twisted Strangers at Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne on Friday, 13 May. Full details here.

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LISTEN: Whitney Houston’s Crypt – Whitney Houston’s Crypt 7″

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whitney houston's crypt

I wish there was some part of my life that gave me an excuse to have a good hard scream. I reckon it’d be healthy. I reckon I’d stop grinding my teeth. There’s just not enough opportunity in our lives to get really fucking dramatic – but on this new self-titled 7”, Newcastle’s Whitney Houston’s Crypt have snatched theirs with both hands.

A thick red mist hangs over these three songs. You gotta just shut your eyes and hold on tight for a lot of it. The wonky guitar on first track ‘Twosome’s Threesomes’ gives you something to grab onto – it’s reassuringly catchy – but then a drum break gives way to a period of even more intense screaming and you’re back in the mire again. They’re mining a rich emotional vein, everything is covered: angry, pissed off, mad as hell, despair, rage, fuck you, etc.

These feelings are never more brutal than on single ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’, which gives short sharp bursts of repetitive guitar and strangled, gasping shouts on a track that is short and sharp and bursting with, well, hate.  Closer ‘Michael Hotchips’ (yeah, they’re also not taking themselves too seriously, thank God) is the most musically hardcore track, with that fast thunderous drumming and bombastic teeth gnashing and wailing vocals to match the guitars sliding out of control like they’re gonna spin right off the planet. But, miraculously, it all holds together until the final shuddering stop.

You can get the Whitney Houston’s Crypt 7″ through Vacant Valley right now. They’re coming to the end of the launch tour for this EP (sorry), but I’ll be seeing them in Brisbane at the last show on 9 April at Trainspotters, with Clever, Twinrova and Rebel Yell. Hope it’s nuts.

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INTRODUCING: Cable Ties

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Cable Ties

Garage punk is the one type of music that can deliver both dancing and fighting in equal measure, often flicking between the two in less time than it takes the singer to howl a “1,2,3,4!”. But it feels like it’s been a hot minute since those lofty heights have actually been achieved within the genre. Enter Melbourne’s Cable Ties, who have only released some demos and a 7″, but who could confidently pick you up within the first few bars of a song and hurl you across the room, like some mutant combination of the Hulk and Sleater-Kinney.

Their latest release, a self-titled 7″, lights a flame under the arse of even the most flaccid of listeners, as front woman Jenny McKechnie stomps emphatically over her bandmates’ blistering musical assault. Although only two tracks long, there’s a vice-like grip that Cable Ties deploy, shaking your body like a rag doll in the hands of a sadistic tween.

Whatever deal Cable Ties made with the devil, the red-horned one is keeping his end of the bargain. The fact of the matter is, Cable Ties are so early into their careers as punk prodigies, but they’ve already delivered searing belters that are capable of shaking the walls of whatever abode they’re blasted in. Cable Ties are strong and wild, with an energy you feel instantly, and that makes them a very, very exciting prospect.

Cable Ties launch their debut 7″ at the Old Bar in Melbourne on May 6th, w/ support from the Pink Tiles, Synthetics, Karli White and ASPS. Join the FB event here.

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LISTEN: A playlist by the Goon Sax

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the goon sax

“We can agree/I’m not quite what I used to be,” James Harrison, a preternaturally world-weary teen, mumbles on ‘Telephone’, a standout track from the Goon Sax’s debut record, Up to Anything. At once self-conscious and naïve, it’s one of many tunes on the theme of adolescent awkwardness, with lyrics detailing sweaty palms, unconsummated affection and the indignity – even “heartbreak” – of a home haircut.

Despite their youthful preoccupations (the band’s youngest member is only 17), this trio has sophisticated tastes. On the eve of their album launch tour, they’ve sent us a playlist: 17 songs about water. Featuring tracks from Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt, as well as John Phillips’ cult first record the Wolfking of LA, it’s a timely reminder that, though just out of high school, the Goon Sax are cooler than you.

Singer/guitarist Louis Forster writes:

‘The following songs aren’t connected by any kind of genre or time period, but what they all have in common is that they are set beside or based on some kind of body of water. Whether it’s the Marine Girls’ loneliness scaling the depth of the ocean, or Neil Young’s bitter observations on the beach, by the water is always a brilliant setting for a song, and serves as the perfect comparison to just about any emotion.’

Tracklist:

The Marine Girls – 20,000 Leagues
The Beach Boys – Feel Flows
Robert Wyatt – Shipbuilding
Bob Dylan – When the Ship Comes In
The Velvet Underground – Ocean
Pulp – My Lighthouse
Erika Eigen – I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper
Mercury Rev – Opus 40
Neil Young – On the Beach
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Proud Mary
Talking Heads – Take Me to the River
Canned Heat – Going Up the Country
The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues
John Phillips – Malibu People
Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
G. Wayne Thomas – Morning of the Earth
The Triffids – Seabirds
You can catch the Goon Sax on their east coast tour in April:

Saturday, 2 April

Sydney – Newtown Social Club
supports FLOWERTRUCK and Solid Effort
https://newtownsc.ticketscout.com.au/gigs/5101-the-goon-sax?_ga=1.2921016.983764161.1456103188

Saturday, 9 April
Melbourne – The Tote Hotel
supports Chook Race, Hearing and Dag
https://thetotehotel.oztix.com.au/?Event=60520

Saturday, 30 April
Brisbane – Trainspotters
supports Blank Realm and Scraps
tickets on the door

Up To Anything is out now on Chapter on vinyl, CD and digital. Order it here.

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LISTEN: Gentleforce – Refuge from The Great Sadness

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gentleforce

Sydney-based producer Gentleforce, aka Eli Murray, first appeared on the scene with his debut album Sacred Spaces, a warm, immersive listen that contrasted sharply with the club nights he was DJing at the time. The album serves as a great introduction – informed by Murray’s wildly eclectic music taste, there are nods to numerous genres, all filtered through his pastoral, downbeat lens.

Sacred Spaces was followed by Looking Through New Window, a long-form live piece created for the monthly experimental sound series ‘Refraction’. Written for a live setting, the release has a more expansive feel, as musical themes drift in and out, dissolving into one another in a blissfully evolving soundscape.

Refuge from The Great Sadness is the latest album from Gentleforce, and it represents a tremendous leap forward for Murray. There’s an epic beauty that reveals itself over the course of the album. From the subtly treated field recordings of ‘Singing over Shibuya’ to the sweeping techno abstractions of ‘You hold my hand through the Gate’, the music consumes you, envelops you in its radiance. And while it’s easy to categorise the music of Gentleforce with labels like ambient or even drone, this belies the bigger picture. There is a sense of grandeur to the music, a majesty that’s uplifting without sounding overwrought or cliché.

Refuge from The Great Sadness is available digitally now.

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