“A label that can do no wrong, Australia’s sainted Endless Melt.”—David Keenan, Volcanic Tongue
This one sided LP documents the first collaboration between Melbourne psych rock thugs Exhaustion and the Dutch-born tenor saxophonist Kris Wanders, a veteran of the early days of European free improvisation who performed widely with legendary figures like Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald, and Han Bennink and recorded some classic sides with Alexander von Schlippenbach, Fred van Hove and the obscure Dutch pianist/clarinetist Kees Hazevoet before moving to Australia in the late 1970s, where he has continued to perfect his brand of raw, soulful free jazz.
Considering the roof-raising intensity usually achieved by both Exhaustion and Wanders’s regular Unit, it might be surprising for some that this recording is less of a post-Last Exit blowout than a spacious exploration of group dynamics. But this is certainly no casual jam session: Wanders and Exhaustion manage to imbue both peaks of manic ferocity and descents into near silence with the same feeling of concentration and intensity.
Wanders often grounds his playing here in mournful blues phrasing recalling both Brötzmann and Frank Wright, releasing slow arcs of notes that build into guttural cries and rapid-fire fragments of post-Coltrane scalar exploration. Duncan Blachford’s FX-saturated guitar playing moves between shimmering feedback and explosive reverb-tank interruptions, and the way his lingering pause over each note, allowing it ring out into feedback, combines with the cymbal-heavy pointillism of Per Byström’s drumming is reminiscent of the atmosphere of suppressed violence in Masayuki Takayanagi’s classic mid-70’s New Direction Unit recordings. At other moments Byström builds up thudding, irregular pulses that, accompanied by Ian Wadley’s wandering bass lines, bring the quartet into classic free jazz territory.
Blachford’s vocal interjection, ranging from ghostly humming to rowdy grunts, push the group into a truly unhinged meeting point of intuitive psych-rock excesses and speed-of-thought free improv interplay. The group sound, rather than the contribution of any individual player, is the focus here: even Wanders, whose enormous tone and constant invention can’t help but occupy the listener’s attention, often recedes back into the group’s primordial soup, building up delicate and sometimes piercing microtonal harmonies with Blachford’s feedback tones.
Captured in fittingly raw room fidelity, this is the first document of a powerful new group, and a perfect contemporary companion to the recently unearthed Brötzmann/Fushitsusha recordings.
– Francis Plagne
Stunning first-floor debut from Antipodean improviser, Vivian Sector. Mimosa Forms spawned from an exercise in reinterpreting The Stooges ‘L.A Blues’ via twenty minutes of no-technique aleatoric spasm – unwittingly landing closer to Stefan Jaworzyn’s Ascension duo. An ecstatic mess of solo, void-diving, free jazz. Recorded straight to cassette, dusted off and dragged out from hiss heavy hibernation. Limited edition. We’ll say no more.
Hard-paste electronic collage and isolationist composition made in Brisbane and Melbourne bedrooms in the early 2000s by Australian producer Mark Barrage. Secret, psychosexual arrangements for low-bit recorded organ, synth, primitive drum machine and consumer electronics rendered heavy by rudimentary computer edits, thickly fogged production tactics and a zero-budget.
This is complex and dark stuff in the spirit of Australian electronic mavericks Garry Bradbury and J.G. Thirlwell, made in the last days of private recording and personal occultism.
Latest limited edition broadcast from big Volcanic Tongue faves, Duncan Blachford’s Australian avant/underground imprint Endless Melt ... Suite For Piano was realised on a ‘public access’ piano situated in Preston Market, next to Preston train station. For an hour round about midnight Blachford accompanied the nocturnal scene around him, playing slow, stately piano parts in the vein of Richard Young’s Advent or even Jandek’s The Cell while the city hums in the distance behind him, with variously unidentifiable episodes of industrial activity, movements in the dark ... combining to give the feel of a minimalist melancholy-tinged elegy to 'deep suburbia asleep'. The piece runs through three ‘movements’, all with different attacks and with different degrees of invasive environmental ghosting, all of which feature overdubbed percussion by Blachford done the night after. A uniquely atmospheric and mesmerising work and a magical minimalist set. Highly recommended.
—David Keenan, Volcanic Tongue
Staggering two disc set that culls a series of mind-blowing free improvisations from a group that comes over as the Australian underground’s answer to Masayuki Takayanagi’s Call In Question ... The sound is massive, crossing Japanese underground-styled free music excess with hypnotic/titanic rock minimalism, ecstatic free jazz and moments of keyboard drift that come over like John Cale-plays-Terry Riley circa “Sister Ray” ... The music is free but hyper focussed, building monolithic instrumental constructs that have the weight of Fushitsusha w/a heady group mind aesthetic that comes out of the whole AMM/MEV axis, building huge melodic/destructive arcs of tone before picking out cranky single note guitar melodies via cracked everyday electronics and wailing brass ... this is the sound of the Australian underground connecting with the free/psych tradition as championed by PSF via classic communal Euro dunt ala Faust/Parson Sound et al. Originally released as an elusive triple cassette edition this 'total brokedown free jazz haemorrhage' is now briefly restored to life and it’s a goddamn revelation. Immediately sold out at source, make your move, this demands to be heard. Very highly recommended!
—David Keenan, Volcanic Tongue
Classic cassette from Tasmanian mainlanders, Cross Brothers (siblings Daniel and Patrick Cross, accompanied by Duncan Blachford on drums). 'Live at Rat Palace' documents a recent performance at the artist run space in their former hometown of Hobart. Devolving the audience's collective ear with thirty minutes of unraveling guitar munge, punctuated by unwound anti-rhythms at every turn. 'Live at Rat Palace' follows Cross Brothers on a descent into vertical nihilism, plenty of horrors escaping their twin six stringers before settling in the void.
"The brothers Cross and their two-headed racket of post-psychedelic no-form noise rampage .. turn on the island municipality they once called home. They take the rising garage and psych of Australia and New Zealand and devour it in 30 minutes of ecstatic gluttony ... equal parts mind expansion and ritual musical torture."
—J. Spicer, Cerberus/Tiny Mix Tapes
Byron Coley's Top 10 for 2010, The Wire
Deep and dark sub-industrial banging and swirling. Title cuts sounds like a satanic Swell Maps. Total deadman post-punkrock clang. 'Weak Eyelids' is the antipodean answer to Lamps, but without any of Monty's good-naturedness. Out of step rhythm-n-burl. B-Side has a atmospheric droner backed with an explosive Gordons-like banger called 'Willworker'. Heavy and dark stuff from Melbourne via Tasmania, highly recommended.
Built around stumbling drum improvisations, indistinct, hazy waves of six-string drone, and meandering, slack-stringed guitar lines that tangle and buckle like power-lines under stress, this self-titled debut is gorgeously indistinct. At its most powerful, like the sprawling 'Drums Meet Guitar', the spray of mottled tones recalls similarly potent explorations by The Dead C, or English post-punk pioneers This Heat. It's beautifully humid, deoxygenating stuff.
—Jon Dale, Uncut
Killer cassette from the Australian underground duo of Duncan Blachford and Alison Bolger: here Blachford plays drums, percussion and trumpet while Bolger manhandles guitar, keys and saxophone. The music ranges across a bunch of styles, with a pair of fists lodged in assaultive/psychedelic free jazz and another coming out of hypnotic post-Velvets duo exchanges, making for a salutary lesson in the potential of applied free thought to ‘standard’ instrumentation. Indeed, the set comes over as somehow relocating an NZ drone aesthetic to actual speed-of-thought improvisation, with Blachford playing in a wild Beaver Harris style while Bolger huffs into the horn like Arthur Doyle fronting Cadentia Nova Danica, meaning this sounds like the cassette The Blue Humans never cut for Xpressway. Throw in some classic garage psych guitar/drums instrumentals and you have one of the premier free-blaring documents from the bottom of the world since the heyday of CM Ensemble.
—David Keenan, Volcanic Tongue