Oh man the music is terrible. It’s the kind of bland countrified power ballad that makes you want to stab your mp3 device. But that’s not enough, then you feel the need to burn it and drive a truck over it just to make sure it’s definitely dead and you’ll never have to hear those horrible sounds again. But all the same there’s something familiar about it, something that taps into your painfully naive past, a history that you’ve tried to block out while pursuing your newfound love of Dubstep or Turkish psych rock from the 70’s. Suddenly it hits you. You know these words! They’re dead set 80’s Aussie classics. It was the American accent that had you fooled.
You see Dual Plover, a label with one of the sickest senses of humour in Australia (if you don’t believe me check out their catalogue – I recommend Suicidal Rap Orgy as a good place to start) have outdone themselves this time. They’ve tapped into the Nashville song/poem companies, cynical businesses that prey on the dreams of aspiring songwriters. The deal is that you send over your heartfelt words along with a wad of cash, and they’ll put your creativity to music. There’s something quietly devastating about the process, it’s like two souls with one stone. Firstly there’s the sap who pens the words thinking these insipid cliched tunes could launch them into stardom, then there’s the musicians themselves who’s own dreams of conquering the industry on their own terms have been shattered long ago, leaving them with the cold hard economic reality of a paying gig.
While the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were the heyday for these companies, the ever curious Dual Plover not only discovered that they still exist, but decided to send over some lyrics from some of Australia’s most iconic tunes that failed to chart in the US, pretending of course that they were their own lyrics. The tunes are Chisel’s Cheap Wine, The Boys Light Up from Australian Crawl, Rose Tattoo’s We can’t be Beaten and the Divinyls Boys In Town. What’s so incredible is how these companies are able to expertly, almost clinically remove any power, emotion or spirit of the originals, and replace it with this kind of cliched countrified swagger that simultaneously sounds like nothing and everything else. You can imagine bedroom songwriters getting excited by their package in the mail, thinking they’ve finally arrived in the business, now they sound like the rest of the spittle on the country music charts. You can download the results for free if you’re curious from http://dualplover.com/ozrock.php. Since it cost them a bit to do this if you appreciate the irony and artistic despair at the heart of the project there’s also a tab where you can donate to Dual Plover.
There’s a dark misshapen underbelly to Melbourne experimental music, where guitars, noise, field recordings and brooding atmospheres collide and there’s a feeling that anything can happen. It’s a place that new label Iceage Productions has positioned itself, displaying a commitment to the progressive, loud, strange and difficult. Their most recent offering is The Shape of Sound Vol.1, a collection of weird and wonderful tunes from experimental Melbourne. Guitarist Zac Keiller offers a really gorgeous near ambient piece, whilst Mystic Eyes work with density of tone, texture, repetition and a feeling of stasis on their piece La Cicatrice Interieure and Constant Light buzz and whir over a huge sludge beat, the kind that can cause avalanches. There’s tunes from legendary post punk outfit Primitive Calculators, hypnotic improv duo Infinite Decimals, a bit of bluster and squeal from the Paul Kidney Experience, and Wolf 359 whose LP Primitive Assembly has also been released by the label. They’re launching this disc with performances from many of the artists at Bar Open on the 22nd of December at Bar Open and best of all it’s free.
Though if you’re after the really strange stuff you need to look backwards. The Artefacts Of Australian Experimental Music Vol.2 1974 – 1983 (Shamefile Music) is the step before, where tape machine and early synths provided the catalyst for all kinds of sonic manipulations. It’s a 2 cd set of some truly bizarre sounds that trace the development of experimental movements and collectives in this country, some of whom are still active today. Primitive Calculators who appear on the previous compilation offer up their debut single from 1979 whilst there’s also tunes from Essendon Airport, Arthur Cantrill, Severed Heads, the Loop Orchestra alongside all manner of forward thinking musical iconoclasts and some great liner notes.