Tagged By collarbones


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Illustrations by Lucy Roleff 

We’ve teamed up with Feral Media for Virtual Mixtape – a series where we ask musicians to create a mixtape based on a genre, artist or theme which they’re passionate about not necessarily associated with.

Our third instalment comes from musician Marcus Whale, known for his work in Collarbones and Black Vanilla. Whale has chosen a selection of tracks from experimental American composer/songwriter Scott Walker, who came to prominence in the late 60s and still receives acclaim for his unorthodox sound musings.



Marcus Whale - Virtual Mixtape - WhoTheHell

Words by Greg Stone: 

Although only in his early twenties, Marcus has been involved in the Sydney music scene for many years. When I first met Marcus, he was sixteen and reviewing for post rock website The Silent Ballet, and writing music under his recently retired Scissor Lock moniker, which over the years evolved from shimmering ambient guitar pieces to processed vocal soundscapes to woozy, sample-heavy electronica.

Marcus is best known as one half of electronic duo Collarbones, or as a member of R’n’B-tinged, dance music upstarts Black Vanilla. But aside from these more pop centric projects, Marcus has also remained heavily involved in the experimental music scene curating and performing at events including the Now Now festival, Underbelly Arts and Electrofringe; releasing works on New Editions and Room 40 imprint A Guide to Saints, and also running his own short-lived label CURT Records.

Considering this dichotomy, it’s rather fitting that Marcus has chosen Scott Walker as his mixtape theme, with Walker himself evolving from 1960’s pop balladeer as front man of the Walker Brothers, to his current status of avant-garde royalty.

For the uninitiated, consider this mixtape your personal guide through Walker’s intriguing musical career; but more importantly take in Whale’s insightful musings on a true artistic pioneer.


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‘It’s Raining Today’ from Scott 3

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The arrangement of the ambivalently atmospheric ‘It’s Raining Today’ from 1967’s Scott 3 is I think proof that you can be both completely dedicated to middle of the road Adult Contemporary radio format, as well as to sonic innovation. The techniques used in the string arrangement mirror that of some contemporary classical composers of the 60s, notably the Polish composer, Penderecki. His great string orchestra work ‘Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima’, written in 1960 has provided a blueprint for countless other composers (and pop musicians) in the ensuing years. How appropriate for a chromatic cluster to turn up on the exact cultural opposite end of the musical spectrum seven years later.


‘Boy Child’ from Scott 4

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‘Boy Child’ is another example of Scott Walker’s tendency toward excessiveness in arrangement, strings drenched in reverb. I’m not sure exactly what ‘Boy Child’ speaks to lyrically, but it feels as if it could only be about the second coming of Jesus, a kind of romantic desolation.


‘The Cockfighter’ from Tilt

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Fast forward almost thirty years to 1995 now, and the form of orchestral soft pop that brought Scott Walker to fame has long faded in popularity. What’s left for Walker, is just the theatre of it – the power of instruments to surround his voice with a world. Notable to me is not necessarily that arrangement in ‘The Cockfighter’ is harsh at times, but more that once Walker prioritised songwriting above aesthetics, his interests immediately took him through zones that required treatments as dark as this. Among fairly dated 90s rock band arrangements are industrially rendered pulses, white noise, squealing strings and horns, uncanny field recordings – all serving to echo Walker’s diabolical vision…


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PREMIERE: TEEF Records – Imperium in Imperio

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TEEF Records‘ mammoth charity compilation Imperium in Imperio drops today, and it sure is worthy of the grandiose title. With tracks contributed by 16 artists, from the established to the almost unheard of, it functions as a kind of statement of intent for TEEF – a Sydney-based label launched last year by Sound Doc blogger Tommy Faith. The songs assembled here, previously unreleased, showcase Tommy’s taste for forward-looking pop that blurs the line between electronic and acoustic elements.

Featured artists include Melbourne producer Leaks, who also designed the compilation’s stunning marbled cover art, underground RnB sensations Collarbones, inaugural TEEF signee Spirit Faces, 17-year-old violinist turned pop artist Lupa J and sample-happy electro-folk artist Setec. There’s a restrained, dissociated-sounding track from the unstoppable Snowy Nasdaq under one of his many pseudonyms, Magnum Ego. Named ‘Slow Release’, it was apparently penned while zonked on experimental drugs as Snowy was undergoing dangerous medical trials. There’s also a track by a well-known Melbourne producer, submitted under the alias Hann as a one-off release.

From beginning to end Imperium in Imperio is swathed in lush and swirling sounds, both organic and propulsive. The highlight has to be ‘Diagonal’, the 10-minute centrepiece provided by Planète. It’s a driving and cathartic techno jam that betrays more than a passing affinity with James Holden’s Border Community. There are also excellent remixes by Yeo and Shisd, and a delicate, floating closer by house wunderkind Darcy Baylis.

A pay-what-you-feel download out via Bandcamp, all proceeds from Imperium in Imperio will go to OXFAM’s Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund, so quit browsing ya cheapskates – this isn’t a library.

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LOOK: Cutters and Two Bright Lakes Present – MMW

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With the vast expanse of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall transformed into a live music venue, the gems of Melbourne’s indie scene came out to play with the Gallery’s priceless collection. Featured as part of the Labels Series for Melbourne Music Week, the night showcased the best of the labels’ respective talent. With the neo-90s penchant of Two Bright Lakes, to the innovative electronica from Cutters Records, this was one hell of a variety night.


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Andrew McMillen (@NiteShok) is a freelance journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. He writes for Rolling Stone, The Australian, The Global Mail and Qweekend, among others. Find an extensive collection of his work here: andrewmcmillen.com


Urthboy – ‘Empire Tags

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This is a classic example of telling an Australian story through hip-hop; a vision of the local version of the artform at its strongest. It’s my favourite track on Urthboy’s fourth album Smokey’s Haunt, released October 19 via Elefant Traks.From instrumentation and production through to lyrical content and message, this is simply a killer track. The Australian flag issue gets nudged every few years and I’m glad that Urthboy is doing the same through a contemporary medium.”From a time when the empire tagged the globe / We ain’t cleaned that graffiti off the front of our home,” he raps; in the album liner notes, he writes, “Let’s keep it simple, the flag of another country sits in the corner of ours and that’s some shit straight outta the 18th century. We’ve been staring so hard at the past maybe we’ve gone cross-eyed.”

I feel pride when I listen to this: for my country, for our freedom and ability to question the status quo through song, for Australian hip-hop, and for Urthboy himself. I’ve followed him since his 2004 debut Distant Sense Of Random Menace. It’s been a pleasure to watch his talents grow and grow. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.




A.H. Cayley (@ahcayley) is a Sydney writer, editor, broadcaster, and, evidently, hat-feather collector. She is the deputy editor of PAN Magazine, curator and host of quarterly live-reading night Confession Booth, a presenter on FBi Radio, and a contributing writer for publications like Time Out and The Big Issue, but she devotes most of her words to local music over at Mess+Noise. Her personal work found here: www.ahcayley.com


Lower Plenty – ‘Nullabor

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I broke up with the man I was supposed to marry a few months ago, not long after Lower Plenty’s Hard Rubbish came out. The whole situation was so hard and so sad, and for nights on end, lying paralysed in the dark on my best friend’s sofa bed while he tried to find a new place, and pack up the life he’d shared with me, and come to terms with the bombshell I hadn’t been able to hold any longer, this song, playing on repeat through a set of battered earbuds, felt like all I had in this world.

‘Nullabor’ kicks me in the guts and makes me feel suffocated and restless and tired, but at least that’s something. It inherits a place as distant, desolate and lonely as the inhospitable stretch of country after which it’s named, and it’s just as beautiful; it’s as stunning as the whole outback. That nodding, mournful beat sits heavy around your neck while Al Montfort’s unique, wavering voice tells such an immense story in so few words. For the purity of its sadness, ‘Nullarbor’ is at its heart an optimistic song; it’s about letting go, and it’s about freedom, as painful as it can be. Even in the depths of its apparent hopelessness, there’s still that glimmer of hope in its protagonist’s eye; that brief but steely reassurance that says you’re doing the right thing, and that keeps you driving on, numb, through the dust.





Marcus Teague (@MarcusTheVine) releases and plays music under the moniker Single Twin.
His previous band Deloris released four albums throughout the ’00s and he is currently recording with a new project, Near Myth, who are set to release their debut album in 2013. He co-founded Mess+Noise and is currently the Deputy Editor of TheVine.com.au.


(DAVE: Rules are meant to be broken and sometimes pegs don’t fit; so we went with all three of Marcus’s PEGs this month. Mostly because I couldn’t decide which ones to cut… I mean, could you?)

Collarbones – ‘Hypothermia

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I have a tendency to either listen to a song once and move on or just loop things over infinitely. As with this. What I like so much about ‘Hypothermia’ is — apart from that weird whirring sound that hums throughout, like a generator next to the bins out the back of a bar, which in turn perfectly illustrates the late night, just-outside-of-everything fuge state that the song has in store — is that I don’t think even it knows what it’s doing. I couldn’t say if there’s a verse and a chorus. It’s propulsive and arch and longing and melancholic. It could be your party jam or your breakup song. It could be background music or you could learn all the lyrics. You could play it on a guitar or in your rock band. Everyone concerned sounds effortless. It scans as a true and an entirely self-generating four and a half minutes of music. I don’t know if people realise how hard that is to create. I can’t really think of anything better you could say about a song.



Grand Salvo – ‘The Boy’s Story Of His Faithful Family Dog

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Grand Salvo—Paddy Mann— is consistently making some of the most focused, technically incredible, and melodically and lyrically gifted music in the country/world. It’s just true. His musical universe is wholly contained and to be treasured. I’ve said it before, but if Paddy was from the UK or the US or, I don’t know, Iceland, he’d be globally revered, no doubt about it.

While his strength will always be finding nuance in simplicity, Paddy’s music has been getting more complex and layered across his six albums, although fundamentally his great gift is honing in on simple motifs and tweaking them, to the point of unearthing some crucial element that was hidden before. Or up ahead. His latest, sixth album ‘Slay Me In My Sleep’ is probably the Grand Salvo world at its most baroque, so I get that the passing listener might think it sounds fluffy or twee. Maudlin, maybe. Those people are wrong and idiots and missing out.

‘Slay Me In My Sleep’ is not a collection of standalone songs. It’s a self-referential, circular work that requires multiple listenings. So it’s hard to pick one song from the album. But the fact that he calls his dog a “teenager” in this is incredible.



Ballads – ‘Your Mistake

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Disclosure: I’ve been in two bands with the singer in this band. He never sang in my bands because he said he couldn’t sing. Even with a microphone in front of him on stage. He sent me these songs and I wrote back “Sounds great! Who’s singing?” He said it was him and I got really mad. Because he never sang in my bands and because I wasn’t in this band.

Ballads are all friends from Newcastle who came together in Melbourne and they’ve only released, I think, four songs, including a 7”. ‘Ballads’ as a band name makes more sense after you’ve heard their music. They’re not a folksy “woe is me and her” band. More forlorn and doomed. There’s a definite sleepy, half-drunk/broken Grizzly Bear vibe here. If you don’t want to skol shots and slink underwater in the bath looking up at the woozy light here I don’t know what would do it. They’ve got a Wurlitzer in the band and it makes me want one. I’m still a bit mad.




Megan Gordon (@groupiemagazine) is the unashamedly keen Managing Editor of Groupie at Pages Digital. She once dressed as Dobby the Elf at a Harry Potter screening she helped organise at Sydney University. She’s also spent some time in Montreal were she was cold, drank bad coffee, spoke terrible French and worked at Nightlife.ca in her spare time.


Pear Shape – ‘The Coca-Cola Kid

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Pear Shape is one oddly sculpted sound situation you want to happen to you! The Sydney band crafts a decidedly exuberant brand of pop.

Their tune ‘The Coca-Cola Kid’ is as joyful as an advertisement for its namesake, only way less calorific and 100% more genuine. The band is also respectfully corporation free, producing their new EP (also named The Coca Cola Kid) independently.  Underneath the playful hooks, there’s a serious commitment to solid musicianship. These boys may play silly, but they’re dead set committed to their craft Their songs are crisp, structured and lyrically strong.

‘The Coca-Cola Kid’ is one of the best pop songs written by an Australian band this year; it’s a real shame that it isn’t on repeat across more stereos. But as the sun starts to shine stronger, I have a feeling people’s thirst for this tune will grow. Drink it in kids.




Dan Azzopardi (@dan_azzo) is the director of Sydney-based artist management and publicity agency, Mammal Sounds. Two years ago, he co-found Acid Stag, a music blog specialising in local and international indie and electro. Every Saturday night, catch him on FBi Radio, laying down sweat-inducing disco.


Elizabeth Rose – ‘Give In

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Admittedly, I’ve given a lap-dance to this song. The electro pop jam sports seductive vocals and a deep, grind-worthy bass-line, making it a total boudoir anthem. ‘Give In’ is the opening track to debut EP Crystallise from talented Sydney producer Elizabeth Rose. Due to its accessibility, it’ll likely be the 21-year-old’s next single release, and subsequently picked-up by mainstream media.
Do me a solid? Imagine your dream date straddling your lap whilst the following lyrics are being sung in an innocently breathy tone: “It’s too late to cool it all down; especially when the wheels are in motion, I can feel a reaction to the words coming out; and if you feel the need to survive, I got answers tonight, you just tell me how; why won’t you give in?”
If you reacted to the above with a stir in your loins, don’t feel ashamed – you’re not alone.

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Collarbones – ‘Missing’

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‘Missing’ is taken from the forthcoming Collarbones record, ‘Die Young’ due out September 2012.

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