“This is what you want, this is what you get,” sneered John Lydon on Public Image Limited’s The Order of Death, a post-apocalyptic song for a post-apocalyptic film. We’re talking Hardware, Richard Stanley’s debut feature, a 1990 sci fi thriller about a murderous robot on the loose, slicing and dicing to an industrial gothic soundtrack. While PIL’s caustic anthem is one of the film’s lasting memories, Hardware also featured Iggy Pop as “Angry Bob, the man with an industrial dick.” Stanley followed it up with the near incomprehensible Dust Devil, before being handed the keys to Hollywood. The big budget remake of The Island of Dr Moreau starred Val Kilmer and wait for it, Marlon Brando. It’s also been ranked as one of the worst movies ever made. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr Moreau (Monster Pictures) is the frequently hilarious account of Stanley’s nervous breakdown. Stanley wanted to create a big budget art film. The studio didn’t. So they replaced him, bringing in the autocratic John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate). Val Kilmer fresh from his Top Gun success acted like a spoiled diva, Brando meanwhile gleefully messed with every aspect of the production, painting his face white, wearing an ice bucket on his head and demanding the 71cm tall Nelson De la Rosa be included in all his scenes. Yes, Brando created ‘mini me.’ Stanley meanwhile snuck back on set unnoticed in a mutant costume. It doesn’t get much crazier than this mess.
There must be something in the air at the moment, as quality Australian experimental music just keeps coming. Mysterious Melbournian Bleach Boys’ lofi field recordings and electrics evolve into these all encompassing almost triumphant ambient drones. Live she regularly sprawls across the floor, playing multiple cassette players and tweaking electronics. She’s released two extended hypnotic pieces on an extremely limited cassette Yes (Sabbatical), which showcases her unique somewhat low-key approach to experimental music.
Brisbane based Andrew Tuttle; previously known as Anonymeye also has a cassette out, Slowcation (A Guide to Saints), a beguiling suite that straddles sound design and musicality, utilising synthesizers and banjo amongst other disparate instrumentation. It’s a collage of sorts, yet it’s composed with subtlety and grace. There’s even a contribution from Matmos’ MC Schmidt.
Melbourne percussionist is David Evans is probably best known for hitting the skins in This is Your Captain Speaking. Transitions is released on renowned Hungarian field recording and sound art label 3Leaves. He’s constructed what he calls ‘urban field recordings,’ and the results are these highly textural fascinating sounds that blur the boundary between composition and field recordings.
Finally Lawrence English has re released the Peregrine (Room40), his response to J.A Baker’s novel about bird watching. It fascinated English to the extent that he’s handed the book out to friends and fellow musicians for years – even Werner Herzog who now includes it on his film school reading list. The music is dense, filled with drones, density and a certain contemplative stillness.
I had respect for Eddie Murphy. Not only for getting picked up with a transgender hooker just days before the release of Dr Doolittle, and then having the audacity to suggest he was just offering her a lift – but for his musical prowess in the mid 80’s. Whilst other stars of his ilk, such as Don Johnson attempted to capitalise on his Miami Vice fame with the kind of bland country rock that even the likes of Ron Wood, Willie Nelson and Steve Ray Vaughan couldn’t rescue; in 1985 Murphy hit paydirt. Party All The Time, produced by Rick James, is the kind of funked up synth pop that just reeks of the 80’s. It’s not amazing, but it reached number two on the charts and possessed the kind of addictive ear worm chorus that will still be drilling into your skull weeks after your 3 day cocaine binge. Bruce Willis’ 1986 Return To Bruno album is the only musical star vehicle that came close, crooning all moody and sexy, like he’d just stuffed a wet tea towel into his mouth. Yet some 30 years later Murphy has trashed all our musical goodwill, with, wait for it, reggae. On recent Youtube clips he’s been seen singing way too earnestly in a fake Jamaican accent. The question has to be asked. Why? Whilst Robert Mitchum also affected a fake Jamaican accent on his amazing 1957 album Calypso is So, it was understandable. He was baked. I wonder what’s Murphy’s excuse.