I’m listening to something and it’s bleak, brutal, lofi, and made in Thornbury. It’s the Von Einem Tapes, a double cd set of experimental madness, a dark kind of brutal industrial sound art that gathers together material released between 2011 and 2014 on a bunch of small run cassette labels. It makes for uneasy listening, difficult but immersive, where drones, slabs of static and shrill elongated pitches collide under periodic disengaged spoken word. This is the sound of nightmares, of metal against concrete, cold dark hallways and an unrelenting wind howling.
Bevan Spencer Von Einem is a convicted child murderer, rapist and suspected serial killer from South Australia, and it’s his case and crimes that local artist Mark Groves (Dead Boomers/True Radical Miracle) embodies with his sound. Much of the lyrics seem to come from Von Einem’s Wikipedia page, and though in the main they’re unintelligible, you can pick out the odd word like ‘psychiatrist’, “vice squad” or “filthy” from amongst the deep monotone, and it only exacerbates the feeling of dread. Groves’ electro acoustic throbs of difficult sound though are inspired, at times its industrial, sounding like field recordings of manufacturing, at others its almost dark ambient – yet even during the most difficult moments there’s a curious cohesion, and you can’t help but admire his ability to cloak the project via its sound, source, lyrics and packaging with a veritable sense of foreboding. Spooky and difficult, it’s one of the most distinctive and difficult concept albums you will ever hear.
Right now it is ridiculous how much great music is out there. Locally we’ve got Melbourne avant hip hop outfit Curse Ov Dialect’s first album in 6 years, a frenetic culturally harmonious word splatter called Twisted Strangers, and Necks pianist Chris Abrahams’ remarkable solo album that veers between, synth and piano, textural chaos and sublime beauty, it’s called Fluid to the Influence (Room40). There’s Stina Tester and Cinta Masters with their catchy electro synth post punk debut Awake and Dreaming (Listen). Further afield UK weirdo Dean Blunt debuts his electronic project Babyfather, which destroyed minds at Unsound Adelaide earlier this year. Babyfather hosted by DJ Escrow (Hyperdub) is equal parts annoying and genius – possibly the album of the year. Adrian Sherwood is the master at the controls for cult Japanese trio Nisennenmondai’s NA (On U Sound) who provide hypnotic repetitive motorik rhythms that are almost anti music, bordering on rhythmic sound art or raw techno – a genuinely odd yet beguiling release. Canadian Tim Hecker has dropped Love Streams (4AD/Remote Control), where he has reprocessed, distended and manipulated the Icelandic Choral Ensemble, telling them to imagine they were Chewbacca with a saxophone who just drank 8,000 litres of codeine. Konono No1 meets Batida (Crammed) electronically treats, splices and dices the likembe (thumb piano) masters, with the Angolan/ Portuguese producer taking proceedings to the dancefloor, whilst kingpin of Lisbon’s underground electronic scene, DJ Marfox offers a raw banging new EP Chapa Quente (Principe). Overwhelmed yet? That’s not half of it.