Wednesday, November 3, 2010

melbourne blog part ONE.

...It's the birdsong of a new country you notice first. Gaudy parroting and tropical calls. The Australian whine of the crow-call, flute coo pidgeon chatter. Banging trains. Closer. Joy divisions. Spare some change & cancel th' pong. In essence it's a relaxed city. The Aesthetics band and the Crude project visited Melbourne for a series of shows, performing alongside a gaggle of artists. Lost me eftpos card at Sydney airport, didnt realize it until the descent into Melbourne, so no money available, the airport a 30 minute drive to town. My fellow passengers may've thought i'd just learnt of a loved-ones demise for all my bubbling. Providence came in the form of a loan at the other end - a miracle. A testament to the value of not burning (at least..some) bridges. Welcome to Cremorne, just north of South Yarra, just south of Richmond. The area was notorious gangland in the 80s. It was raining. Gig number one was a Crude show at a controversial new venue in Flemington called KOF. An artist run gallery space that was previously a flower shop, KOF's frontage is a madenning psychedelic punk mural, local locals and landylords and shoppe owners bitching up a storm a-fucking-bout it. I performed alongside Bearded Iris (Jane Louise) and Heavy Turkey( Lynton & Dave) . The night was Dionysus-Lite, a bellicose, braying jam-session. Heavy turkey is a drum/bass/vocals duo, James a gangly bassist of deft abilities, lynton a street-smart traps-man - groove oriented and fully bearded. Their music was a sort of curio-punk....a compelling metal-pop. Bearded Iris was a multi-media encounter, slice'o'life video clips and monologues, day-to-day psycho-pychedelica.Crude played...shawm over mini-beat, used to great effect throughout the tour.Lynton joined me on the kit for an improv piece. After Crud ex-pat kiwis came out of the fucking walls and re-formed wellingtons eerie out-fit Sharpie Crows for a free-for-all music-orgy, the entire night relaxed, without regulations, kiwi-like, a real party. litle did I know that ain't the Melbourne way. Gig two was a christening of a new warehouse room/venue in Abbotsford. Known as the 'Phillip M Carey Memorial Room', the room is a labour of love dedicated to a recently deceased local eccentric complete with a beautiful PA system. Several rag-tag artists performed..Cutlery, a stoner rock band, komplete with girlfriends and girlfriends girlfriends in tow, jamo-jamo-rama , one of those 'we-could-play-forever' kinda acts, 'Brothers Hand Mirror' (There seems to be a penchant in Melb for band-names with several words seemingly pulled from a hat or conjoured up on while drunk and stoned,something that also reminds me of Wellington - in fact ,Melbourne and Wellington do share some similar culltural traints---but see, thing is, to me Melbourne is a composite of the flat-city sprawl of Christchurch, the hyper-size and rapaciousness of Auckland, and the cluttered vaudevillian clownishness of Wellywood). Anyhoo, Brother Hand Mirror is the project of a local eclecticians Oscar Vincente-Slorach Thorn & Grant Jonathon Gronewold. They experiment with various styles and this was a cooky hip hop set. Strange rap/pop material. Interesting. Crude's set was a little shell shocked and self-concious. But hey...WTF. Heres a clip from that.......After a week off as-it-were the rest of the Aesthetics band arrived in the great city. Our first engagement was at a very hip venue called The Workers Club. This was a a learning experience. Melbourne's music and entertainment industry is a well oiled machine. As the inner city is gentrified clubs'n'pubs are forced to shut the fuck up. Bands will start from 8.30, and its usually all over by 12. As an outside musician it almost seems as if the industry works like this: the artists are the last to be paid after all the other players. There is an industry set up around bands that is there to capture as much capital as possible. You have the 'booking' 'agent'. The postering and printing boys. The inhouse door-staff. The inhouse soundperson. The photographers and media. The band managers. The lighting crews. The bouncers. The bar-staff. Each of these people demand payment, it goes without saying. I've probably missed several other roles. And i don't think its just in Melbourne either. And they try to convince you that without them, you wouldn't get anywhere. So many young bands are screwed over by these predators. The more I experience the more i believe artist-run spaces are the most rewarding places to perform. As 8.30 drew nearer it was time for act 1 to get on. This slot was Heavy Turkey's, unbeknownst to them (and me) ...pretty much my guests for the evening. You know you're in the big city when you're told sternly that if the act dosen't get on stage before x time they wont play at all. And yet again my allegences are tested...do i honour the venue or do i honour the kiwis. They arrive slightly late , argue with the sound-guy, get on stage, vent beautifully and get off. The vibe now is a confused and bitter mess, Matty yet again has waltzed into other peoples fueds with other people. They rocked. Next up was Dead Ants Rainbow, Melbourne based improv/electronic,,,chanelling a gorgeous racket, alcohol and alchemy and stoned charcoal drawings and slithering pedal-coaxing. Exciting sound-arts from the New-Australian-Wierd Movement. And then there was SUPERSTAR, a stylish duo , Roland Juno 6 underlay and Roy Montgomery-esque guitar over-lay. Incidental music, spacious, introverted, meditative, brooding like a freshly dumped teen. Unfortunatley my drunk mind couldn't help but recall channel 7's Home and Away. The guitar stuff used for particularly dark moments. i know it sounds bad but you had to be there it was great. And then The Aesthetics, our first appearance in Australia since febuary 2005. Melb has changed since then - most notable was the much increased power of the internet as a social networking and promotional device. A flesh D-vice. We hit the stage with recent barnstormers like 'O' and old-faithfuls like 'Better dead than Red'. The audience sorta beamed back at us, we provided a kind of relief, a blow-off, a kind of messy catharsis. Release from the crystal-clarity of tightass-melby-pop and the deadened copycat audio-architecture of the 'indie' scene . This was messy, this was wrong, we made mistakes, we was brazen,we were cute yet ugly. And the up-side down guitar was just so.....wrong. It was drunkeness itself. This was The Aesthetics. Edie Stevens, Matt Middleton and Malcolm-Fucking-Deans..

..next day was party time....the 2nd of 4 shows-in-a-row for thee Aes-fucking-thetics. A kiwi-centric soiree was arranged in friendly Cremorne. A beautiful loose blow-out to remedy the stilted functionality/disfunctionality of the previous night eh-what??? Rock and-or Roll it was. wasn't it. Wasn't it?? Was it?? Wha? Whaaaa? WWWhaaaaaa? Jack Sprat??? Little Jack Horner? Large Dong? (Not quite, my man thursday.)

In the name of poos and wees, we played. Oh yeah, beer is bloody expensive in Australia, it's best to buy a 'slab' as aside from a six pack. Wine is ultimately cheaper than beer in Australia. If you're courageous and disgusting you can buy 'clear-skin' varieties at speical stores for $3. The Aesthetics played a rolling canker of a set. People stood and watched. Rolling canker. Canker'n'Cake, bays of plenty. Admiralty. David Icke. Lead the Pack. Black Queen. Sinead o'Conner. Somalia.Skinhead, Skinhead, looking for a root.
Indistinct and Shadowy.
Next Aesthetics gig was the 'big one'......The famous TOTE, where many legends have performed. Old haunt of theCosmic Psychos. Recently visited by the inimitable MURDER JUNKIES!
The show kicked off with Hissey Miyake , my personal favourite band of the night. The trio's sound is stripped to the bone and unashamedly references the afro-minimalism of the dance wing of the no-wave spectrum. Pity no cunt was there. Next up was the sound behemoth that is Zond. A 5 piece act complete with 3 screaming ultra-distorted guitars and a possessed korg. Zond built outrageously excessive walls of noise.Slab-like and not dissimilar to acts like HDU, Godflesh, Head of David etc etc . Big like an event horizon. Big like Australia! Then we come on, post-punkin', and the kiwis are streaming in like aeconomic refugees. Old friends, new friends, people i knew, people who were sure they knew me, great turnout... We piss out a great set, angry angry lonely lonely. "North bound psycho - South bound man - Eastern Religion - western Death - Tidal Waves upon us - Money changes minds - Tom-Tom Striker - where are the lines - The streets are empty - the Bank is closed" . Triadic / Chromatic.
Panel of Judges were the headliners and performed a great set. Indie. Indie. Bindi. Like something from mid '80s Dunedin - I won't deny it. A kind of anthropological study into the Dunedin sound,,,Panel of Judges seemingly an anomaly in time and space. Its unavoidable - The Clean a clear influence on the band. But Panels' songs are brilliant in their own right, they are strong and intelligent musings, curious melodies and lyrics imbue the sugary din with a indefinable dark streak. Major chords and jangle. Panel flies the flag. Someone has to.
Nickers Nickers Nickers. Right winger right winger right winger. Hey Leroy! Anyhoo....next job was to get the borrowed equipment to The Pony for the famed and sought after 2 am slot! Thanks to the Heavy Turkeys, and other mates for helping with that.....A guaranteed wasted audience awaits thee there, pissed and all maleable and susceptible to the boogie woogie voodoo beat. We get there and man....you could smell that mineral weath ,,the minerals of the great western deserts (living and breathing at 45 degrees btw) had converted themselves into uric acids and ammonias. Managed to pay off a roving sound man mercenary to do the job and then we played. And 2 songs in the amp i had borrowed blew up. All seemed lost. The audience began to atrophy. And then bang...just use the fricking saxophone. Fuzz up the bass to fill the sound out, and funk up the sound with staccato sax stabs, trills & screams. And it worked. It worked. They loved. They danced. And they dont dance in Melbourne. They loved it.
Check out clip from that gig HERE . That was supposedly it for the Aesthetics in Melbourne, but Patrick from Sunshine and Grease arranged a final show for the band the following wednesday. See you next wednesday. Rich, bolbous nodes. Full'o'shit. Constipate, derry. Blithe wealth. Targeted jack. Euro-euro. Good riddance."The Right's 2 essential activities: 1. To perpetually tranfer wealth from the public to the already rich.2. Distract everyone from the fact that this wealth tranfer is occuring. "
Waterboarding.
Information Yield.
Plot.
Seat: 11C
...Met an interesting character from the band Pink Stainless Tail (and earlier still a band called Slub) through an old kiwi mate and we managed to conjour up a half-hearted afternoon jammo. One Sonke Rickertson. The Melbourne music scene has a history and underground as exciting as the NZ equivalent...a world unto itself. Australia boasts a very activeexperimental music scene with hundreds of new artists.
..The next Wednesday The Aesthetics performed at Sunshine unt Grease down Clifton Hill way...a real
loud'n'angry lil set. Hot'n'bothered. And then , on Friday the 29th...Crude, Automating, and Pits performed at the same venue. Automating is one Sasha Margolis , a sound artist with a fascination for the tactile qualities of tape, loops and pedals...Pits is kiwi artist Ryan Lesley. Lesley's set was classic Pits/Spit, 4 turntables , each one cocking up and looping, layer-work, scratches and pops as rhythm undercurrent, piquant choices of music, german opera, brass sections, string sections - the gorgeous acoustics of the sunshine & grease gallery room contributing to an all-round delerium - martial clicking and ballroom flashbacks. Pits performance reminded me of the work of The Caretaker.
Automating began as Pits ended, with samples and loops, a beautifully restrained crescendo, louder and louder until Sasha whips out his axe and massages the strings with a beer bottle. Inconceivably distorted rushing ebow'd fuzz results. Automating performed in Dunedin in 2007. He hopes to return again soon. The feeling i get from the Australian experimentalists is that NZ and Oz artist should bite the bullet and commute across the tasman every few months if at all possible. The scene there is very healthy, as is ours. Let us collaborate, cross-pollenate, mutually support, let us orgy, let us drink, let us enter the void. Automatings set was like eating a perfectly prepared Tiramisu.
Sunshine and Grease is a venue,gallery space, book shop and a record shop. And what a record shop it is. This store, a labour of love run by Patrick o'Brien, is super specialist - a repository of avant garde recordings from all over the globe - DIY releases by the most obscure experimentalists, cassettes, lps, 7" singles,cds of all sizes,,,i'd never seen anything like it - a true cultural hub. Scandanavian experimental/folk, new wierd america, new zealand, australian anti-music,
free jazz, asian avant garde, each piece a work of art,tapes with lil stoned-out pencil drawings...names darling. Names. Names. Names. id suggest parking up at S+G with at least $500 . Of course when i put on a sullen indie voice and moaned to Pat ....'i'd love to come in here one day with shitloads o money' ,....Pat retorts with a half smile...'Yeah, every asshole says that'...its true though. People who like the music this store speicalizes in don't often have much money. They're often artists themselves, trading and haggling and putting shit aside for weeks.
Crude plays. 4 pieces. shattered and claustrophobic from 15 days in peoples lounges, me set is subtley crazed. The ole' Pipe shawm is used. every gig...'what is that thing'??? Steven Coe...man.....people LOVE that instrument man. Make more and sell 'em. I pump out a few odd oriental tones and end the show with an almost renaissance era scale sequence. check it HERE. And a slowed down version HERE.


TO CONCLUDE. The Melbourne experience was a turning point. Its home. I now choose woodwind. dark folk. Bagpipes. Crows. Trains. High wages. Anonymity. Cosmopolitanism. Flemington. Kensington. Cremorne. Thanks to all the cats who helped the mission: Dave, Lynton, Jane, Rob Buick, Tania (especially!), Edie and Malcolm, Jem , Dion and the Panels, Patrick, Amy, Joshi and Jackson, the Met, Sasha, Ian, Ryan, Adrian , FiWi and Rach ;

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