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…
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)
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!