Iceage Productions is a Melbourne label that has been releasing commercially challenging difficult and strange music since about 2005. It was established by Peter James, originally to provide an outlet for his work in Wolf 359 a noisy experimental outfit, though has since expanded to include other unique local avant garde performers. For James the ethos of the label is nice and simple. “I don’t have any constraints on what I release,” he explains. “If I think its good I just approach someone and put it out really.” It’s about giving a platform to Melbourne’s fertile experimental music scene, and also attempting to reach listeners who may not traditionally view themselves as experimental music connoisseurs.
“It’s difficult music to get people interested in,” James confirms. “I’ve played something like Zac Keiller to a lot of different people who aren’t into experimental music and they love it. That’s one of the big things of the label is to push that out there to people who might not actually be aware of what’s happening in Melbourne.”
The album that he speaks of is Keiller’s Start Burning, a work that skirts experimental drone music and musicality with increasing flair. “I’d seen him perform live and thought he was an original guitarist,” offers James. “I didn’t think there were too many people who approached his style or skills with drone music lets say. His style of guitar playing really caught my attention. He’s released and recorded a lot of material thats really worthy of being heard.”
It’s this dedication to highlighting the work of his favorite musicians that has seen James put together a compilation of his favorite local musicians. Titled The Shape of Sound volume 1 it boasts new material from the likes of improv duo Infinite Decimals, Zac Keiller, Wolf 359, psychedelic noise merchants The Paul Kidney Experience and even legendary experimental pioneers The Primitive Calculators.
“As far as Primitive Calculators go I was just very lucky to have snagged the only track they’ve recorded in 20 years I think. I went and saw them at one of their first shows after the festival that Nick Cave curated and said I’d been a fan since I was a teenager and paid x amount of dollars for their records and I actually grew up in the town that they originated. In fact that was one of the original reasons I looked them up, because I thought it was interesting that an electronic punk band was coming out of Spingvale. And they said ‘definitely, we’ll be on it.’ And plus its a brilliant track too, Supposedly its something Stuart wrote back in the day that they never recorded.”
James views the compilation as a snapshot of a moment in time, in much the same way the “NMA tape series from the 80s that gave light to the Australian experimental scene, EC Productions and particularly Harry Butler as well as Clinton Greens Shame File compilation releases and Ulex Xanes Zero Cabal tape label.”
With small runs, Iceage Productions has a split album with Keiller and Infinite Decimals on the way as well as minimal UK synth punk duo from the 80’s Dada Computer as well as Adelaide ensemble White Tiger AA who he describes as having a ‘nasty and relentless thing going.”
Again it’s a highly personal process, putting out music that appeals to him, that he believes deserves wider appreciation.
“I’m always searching the net for those lost gems,” he laughs. “I suppose that what got me into that was listening to Nuggets, Songs That The Cramps Taught Us, and The Born Bad Series. There’s a lot of hidden gems out there where if you dig a little bit you’ll find some great music. I’m always doing that chasing one persons influences.”