Fragmented Frequencies Feb 14

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Jogjakarta’s Senyawa have a unique ability to merge cultural traditions with the avant garde, resulting in a heady brew of truly unique music. They’ve toured Australia blowing audiences away at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, with Wukir Suryadi’s ‘Bamboo Spear,’ a thick stem of bamboo strung up with percussive strips of the plant’s skin and steel strings alongside Rully Shabara’s, screeching, growling and peculiar extended vocal techniques. Their music draws on everything from John Zorn’s Torture Garden to more traditional sounds with an aggressive Boredomsesque punk rock attitude. They’re releasing a new LP Acaraki on Australia’s home of the weird Dual Plover, who in a new strategy put the album up as a Pozible campaign selling 200 pre order LP’s only, thus subverting traditional marketing and distribution costs and ensuring that Lucas Abela does

n’t end up with a box of unwanted records under his bed. For cutting edge music this approach seems particularly interesting and may signal the way of the future.

Otherwise if you like your obscure West African cassette music Awesome Tapes From Africa, he of the incredible blog, is back in Australia for Womadelaide and will be DJing at Section 8 on March 9. Whilst another Womadelaide refugee Will Holland aka Quantic who twists disparate genres together like Cumbia and Dub in his own productions will be DJing at Boney on the 7th of March. But if you want to see the great Femi Kuti or John Zorn or Stars of the Lid there’s only one place you can go: Adelaide.

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Fragmented Frequencies Dec 10

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.

Fragmented Frequencies Sept 09

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It’s probably around the time of the earnest chugging groove of Sala, track 36 of Japanese lunatic Dokaka‘s 88 track debut album Human Interface (Dual Plover), that the first seeds that you may be losing touch with reality really begin to take hold. It’s not necessariy its musicality, or it’s R&B groove, something it shares with the one minute nineteen Verb four tracks on, it’s that they’re surrounded by some of the most curious and schitzo attempts at music that you’ve ever heard. This is sheer lunacy, the kind of crazy obsessive outsider genius that is all too rare. The music is fine, a myriad of genres, quite experimental, carefully structured, short sharp and punchy, with most tracks clocking in at just over a minute. There’s a cartoony feel to Dokka’s blend of rock, pop, r&b, torch ballads and bad 80’s memories. But that may because he’s created this whole damn thing with his voice. He’s famous for his vocal only reinterpretations of Led Zeppelin, Slayer, and the Rolling Stones, though Bjork also enlisted his services for her own experiments with vocal music on her 2004 Medúlla album. Human Interface is his debut solo release and whilst sharing a similar manic weirdness with Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for voice (Tzadik), he also delves into highly musical areas that are nothing short of jaw dropping. Perhaps this is the evolution of beatboxing, a one man barbers shop quartet attacked by a rubber lipped banshee. Once you normalise this kind of lunacy you’re in trouble.

Speaking of outsider music PIVIXKI (Sabbatical) is a collaboration between local pianist/ composer Anthony Pateras and Agents of Abhorrence drummer Max Kohane. They sound exactly like the Necks would if they decided to kill their bass player, get tatts and listen to grindcore. Except the piano, which takes on an abstract flowery new music feel – except when Pateras pounds the bejesus out of it like all he owns are thumbs. Like all Sabatical releases (www.sbbtcl.com) it’s limited to 200 and is fascinating and frenetic, the duo fusing together effortlessly, constantly moving, not afraid to startle and get a little musical alongside their beds of atonal discordance.

Speaking of discordance Italian Dario Buccino has an incredibly strange new DVD/CD Corpo Nostro (Extreme). In the doco he speaks of wanting to create “hypnotic excitement and numbness,” two states of being that he views integral in altering consciousness. His music is created by beating large thin sheets of steel, the kind they used back in the radio days to create thunder, and he attacks it with an almost religious zeal. The DVD also contains a busking session where he encourages volunteers to have a crack themselves, and excerpts from some live performances, demonstrating his virtuostic range on this peculiar instrument. “It’s very odd how he disregards harmony,” comments an excited percussionist, as we go behind the scenes to view how this extraordinary work was put together. http://www.xtr.com.

New Weird Australia is a free download only compilation of some of the more interesting Australian music around. Many of these folks you haven’t heard before, though Panoptique Electrical who offered up his second album, Yes To Fear Yes To Desire (Sensory Projects) recently offers an unrelesed track and there are some really curious tunes by Kharkov, Broken Chip and Sam Price. My favorite is from the suggestively titled Cock Safari. When I got on their myspace I found a link to a band called Anal Cum Wolf. When I got on their myspace I found a link to Nigger Fart Dance Party USA. When I got on their myspace they had a picture of a David Hasselhoff record called Night Rocker, where he is dressed in leather rocking out on the bonnet of KIT. They also had a song called Farting Like a White Man which sends race relations back 50 years. Then my head exploded. http://www.newweirdaustralia.com. There’s a new one each month.

Oh and yes. Don’t fret. Lightning Bolt. Here soon.

Fragmented Frequencies 25th June 09

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So it’s that time again, where the hyper music nerds stroke their collective chins, close their eyes and celebrate with their ears, tuning into the world of sound art and experimental sonic practices. It’s Liquid Architecture‘s 10th anniversary, a festival that has collected some of the most interesting, obscure and risk taking sound artists together over the last decade. This year they’ve managed to land Asmus Tietchens, a German composer who began with tape manipulation in the 60’s though took on an industrial electronic bent thereafter. Fragmented Frequencies first and only contact with him came courtesy of the very peculiar ∂ – Menge album in the mid 90’s on Ritornell (Mille Plateaux). It was a sweet electronic concreté work with no real sense of structure, sound that felt like it was already sitting there, electronically bubbling and spluttering away and Tietchens just happened along and recorded it. Obscurely knowing one of the artists is kind’ve like a badge of honour for Liquid Architecture, though often it’s the freaks you’ve never heard of who tear your face off and explode your mind. They’ve also got Swiss based electronic improvising artist Jason Khan, US mash up pioneers The Evolution Control Committee, German soundtrack artist Thomas Koner and a bunch of Australia’s best, brightest and weirdest intense sound dudes. It’s on from the 9th to the 12th of July and includes exhibitions, performances and workshops at various venues around Melbourne. Check http://www.liquidarchitecture.org.au for more details.

The Purple Duck is one of those evil wrong dudes from Suicidal Rap Orgy, so he’s quite at home on Australia’s wrongest record label Dual Plover. His debut solo album Duckside of the Moon (geddit?) is fucking stupid and amazingly great for exactly the same reasons. It feels like a comedy album, with skits such as Cunt Dracula, who is a nasty insensitive piece of work (even for a vampire) and Sex Falcon which is about a falcon that terrifies townsfolk by penetrating them and then dropping them off a mountain two hours away. Yes we know it’s juvenile but it doesn’t stop it being funny. And it’s part of the charm of Purple Duck who uses hip hop, funk, house, indie folk, blues and electro pop, torturing them within an inch of their life and then relieving them of urine. He’s launching his opus of wrongness with fellow eccentric hip hop dudes Curse Ov Dialect, The Professional Savage, Pig+Machine, and Aoi at Bar 303 in Northcote on Saturday the 11th of July.

Fragmented Frequencies desperately misses Leeds quintet Hood like Tracey Grimshaw misses credibility. A couple of years back the Adams brothers splintered off into two solo projects, Chris formed Bracken and his brother Richard developed Declining Winter, which not surprisingly if you play together at the same time sound exactly like Hood. Declining Winter’s Goodbye Minnesota (Sensory Projects) was an understated gem, a subtle and nuanced work that tapped directly into the emotions. A download only remix album has just been released featuring the likes of The Remote Viewer and Bracken tinkering at its bones. These remixes add elements of restrained electronica to the beguiling stillness, a kind of stripped surreal lilt to the work, with El Fog’s and Part Timer’s mix taking the tunes to a whole new level. Check http://sensoryprojects.com.au/

Finally many people will tell you that Miles Davis and the 80’s are a bad mix, that he had descended into a sad kitsch parody of the forward thinking greatness that he once effortlessly exuded. That said his last album, which he never lived to hear, the jazz fusion hip hop of 1992’s Doo Bop (Warner) is a firm favourite of Fragmented Frequencies. The DVD of a German concert in 1997 however is another matter. On Miles Davis: That’s what happened (Eagle Vision), his trumpet is a dull strained whisper and the tunes are hijacked by an awful polished jazz fusion band with bullshit guitar solos. Davis barely plays, his back to the camera, wandering around preoccupied, perhaps futilely looking for his sound. You know you’re in trouble when the highlight is his version of Cindy Lauper’s Time After Time. There’s also a short featurette on Miles’ art. “I love women with carriage,” he offers to a confused German journalist. It’s the best moment on this disc.

Bob Baker Fish