NEW MUSIC: Jo Meares – The Dirty Game Of Art

Synthesised terrains of psychedelic melancholia delivered in a weathered tone, halfway between a whisper and a growl.

Following the release of A Handful Of Smoke (2009) and One More Time (2010) with The Honeyriders, his acclaimed solo albums King Of The Crystal Mountain(2014), Back To The World (2018) and last year’s singles ‘The Dream Hotel‘ and ‘Fields Of Yesterday‘, Australian songwriter Jo Meares recently began a new and creatively fertile collaboration with Melbourne musician Anth Dymke (Pony Face).

Premiered on UK website Backseat Mafia, ‘The Dirty Game Of Art’, a dark dive into temptation and sin, is the first taste of a full-length album that Meares and Dymke are currently writing and recording.

“‘The Dirty Art of Game’ is epic, cinematic musical prose that has a satisfying air of a life steeped in indulgence, pain and joy. Utterly cathartic. An album is in the cards, which I, for one, cannot wait to hear.” – Backseat Mafia (Arun Kendall)


Meares’ evocative and poetic songwriting, combined with Dymke’s musicianship and production have resulted in an immersive sound that blends elements of post rock and psychedelia with a widescreen cinematic quality. One can hear the ghost of Leonard Cohen and the artistry of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in Meares and Dymke’s compositions.

“Anth Dymke is, to my mind, one of Australia’s greatest bass players,” says Meares. “He does not simply play the bass but create a whole mood and atmosphere with his playing. It was a great honour in 2019 when he put his hand up to play bass with my band. There was an immediately musical connection and the whole performance of the band was lifted by his playing and energy,” recalls Meares.

“What I did not realise is that Anth is also a brilliant producer. I started to send him files of songs I was working on and he would turn those fairly simple recordings into something quite brilliant, but always preserving and expanding the aesthetic I had presented to him,” Meares explains.

Likewise for Dymke, the process of applying his compositional abilities to Meares’ songs has been a particularly rewarding experience. “The first time I heard Joe’s music I immediately felt a cinematic presence in it. Joe tells stories in his music and I was keen to start shaping some ideas around those stories of love and loss. Joe had always used very talented players in his previous recordings, and I was keen to slightly move away from that to a more synthesised, bleak, but glorious terrain. Landscapes created by an array of different textures feels like a good palette in which to ground Joe’s evocative storytelling skills.”

The visual component of Meares’ music is always an important part of his artistic vision and he has paired the song with a video that was filmed between the Spanish cities of Bilbao and Gernika as he returned from a gig. The evocative cover art for the single is a photo of Meares’ face superimposed on a 3-D printed sculptural bust of himself, creating an otherworldly, Lynchian quality.  

NEW MUSIC: Tallinn – At The Freeport

Liquid bass, stuttering heartbeat rhythms and melodies that fold in and out of the mix, overlapping dancing with free-spirited interplay. These are the hallmarks of Tallinn’s track ‘At The Freeport’, an art-pop song that inhabits a beautiful sonic space.

The song comes from Varieties Of Exile II, the second in a series of EPs from the New York-based experimental pop project of Scott Whittaker.

NEW MUSIC: Albin – Mellandagar

Albin is the moniker of Albin Johansson, a musician, composer, and producer based in Malmö, Sweden. Primarily using analog synthesizers and drum machines, he’s released material on a number of labels over the last seven years and performed in cities such as Malmö, Berlin, Vienna, and New York.

‘Mellandagar’ comes from his new EP Passage, and it cuts a wonderfully minimalistic swathe through the history of electronic music, from Kraftwerk through to the early 80s experimentalists in the UK who were adding pop aesthetics to the synthetic framework of the music. Bleeps, pulses, weightless drum machines and a playful sense of melody are the key elements of Albin’s track.

Check out the full EP over at Spotify and Apple Music.

SPECIAL SOUNDS FOR STRANGE TIMES

Over the last few months, one of the things many people have been turning to during periods of isolation during the pandemic is music. Music for distraction, companionship, solace and joy. Whatever the reason, putting on a favourite album or discovering something new that pulls you in and hits the spot, intellectually or emotionally, can be a great and wonderful experience. In this series we check in with musicians, journalists and broadcasters to see what has inspired repeat listening and provided some special sounds for these strange times.

First up is Darren Cross, he of Gerling and Jep and Dep fame who has most recently been releasing solo material as D.C Cross. Under that moniker he’s created two excellent albums (Ecstatic Racquet (2019), Terabithian (2020)) that blend American Primitive guitar stylings with arcane English folk picking and immersive washes of new age-inspired drone and ambience.

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate (1971)

When it’s cold near/in winter time, I love to listen to depressing music. I don’t know, it’s just the way it is. One year, in the coldest house I have ever lived, Jack Elias’ Chopping Board was the winter breakfast album in our Alaskan house kitchen. A local songsmith, influenced by Cohen but even bleaker than Cohen, the half Lebanese guy Elias really hits you were it hurts.

Songs of Love and Hate has been flipped on the record player many a time during this Covid time. Its weird, I watched the Cohen documentary Bird On Wire for the first time recently. It’s about a 20 date tour that ended up in Israel in the 70’s where Cohen and his band are tripping balls on LSD and he is crying during his performance of S’o Long Marianne’ – mind blowing!

The guitar on Songs of Love and Hate is astounding – highlighting what Cohen calls “his chops” – his distinct picking style. This album is tender and angry and evil all at once… and the sentiment is perfect for a heartless winter.

Trumans Water – 10X My Age EP (1993)

When I was a wee lad in the 90’s, Trumans Water really blew my mind. Hailing from San Diego around the time Pavement appeared, (before Pavement ended up sounding like the the Verve) Trumans Water were deconstructionist – dismantling pop-grunge-math-rock that sounded like Captain Beefheart playing the angriest parts of Sonic Youth but 10x angrier, while collapsing down an eternal staircase to infinity.

I bought this 10 inch as I just had to hear these songs on vinyl. I mean one song is just a lo-fi recording of the drummer trying to learn the drum beat (bit annoying) but tracks like ‘Empty Queen II’ and ‘Enflamed’ still impress the hell out of me.

I recently found a rad doco about the San Diego punk scene called It’s Gonna Blow!!! – San Diego’s Music Underground 1986-1996 – which was unfindable online until recent times. I am pretty sure the title of the film comes from the Trumans Water anthem ‘Aroma Of Gina Arnold’ which is another of my favourite Trumans songs. Hunt this down. Such a great band. The artwork of the albums was really inspirational as well, long before collage and dadaism became a hipster staple.

Liquid Mind – Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus (1994)

Being a restaurant DJ and working on Saturday mornings as a thrift store sorter (go through the garbage, mould, urns of dead people, to find things to sell to rich people in rich areas) was playing havoc on my sleeping patterns. DJ’ing until 3am (playing ‘Thriller’ to 20 year olds on MDMA) then getting up to work and sort through the junk was really whacking me out (so I quit the sorting job). Not being able to sleep led me to those YouTube ambient music sets of three hours of buzzing electronic drone sounds that hypnotise you into sleepy slumberland submission. Luckily for me I really love those sounds and dug a bit deeper and found Chuck Wild, the godfather of 90’s ambient music.

Chuck Wild’s Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus (1994) is probably my favourite and it seemed really fitting, during these Covid times, to reach for this CD and sail away on cloud Chuck.

Chuck Wild went from doing the music composition on that crazy, ground-breaking 80’s, MTV-loving TV show Max Headroom, to a nervous breakdown where he stunningly chose meditation over medication and help invent 90’s ambient music.

The first track, ‘Zero Degrees Zero’ goes for over 28 minutes and like the most of this album, creates understated wooshes of pure 90’s ecstasy drone candy. This album has made me fell less anxious in this really weird and eerie time of self-isolation.

Coffee. Sleep. Sitting on the couch. More sleep. Trying to forget I can’t travel overseas to see my friends in Europe. Play guitar. Beer. Forgetting Covid – Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus – Suits my many moods. Repeat. Repeat.

NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Still

New Zealand composer Rhian Sheehan has recently released a new album, Recollections, Vol. 1, which features a number of new tracks, and a number of tracks performed as part of his 2018 A Quiet Divide Album Release Tour.

Still‘ is a beautifully percussive and textured track that peppers an undulating piano line with clickety-clack rhythms that conjures everything from a ticking clock to a typewriter, or even metronomic footsteps. There’s a gentle lulling quality to the track for the first few minutes before tension is added using the same shapes but with greater push and a deeper synthetic swell.

Elsewhere on the album there are deeper electronic synth excursions, ambient and drone compositions and grand post-rock soundscapes.

Recollections, Vol. 1 is out now on Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa.

NEW MUSIC: Telemachus – I Am Delicious And Cute. So I Will Go Buy Again

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There’s some incredible sound design and programming going on in this track from South London-raised, producer Telemachus. His new album Boring & Weird Historical Music came out on 22nd May via High Focus Records and this is just one example of the splendid way he pulls different genres together while still allowing a glorious vacuum of space to exist around and within his music.

As he himself puts it: ‘the album certainly rewards a thorough and engrossed listen, but equally the general atmosphere is pleasant enough to play for your auntie when she comes for tea.’

Telemachus came up via the UK hip hop scene but was equally attracted to the sounds of grime, jungle, jazz, soundtracks and trip hop. Here he filters and distils them all into one trance-inducing collection of songs that sound both tribal and born from dark urban streets. Sounds hang suspended or cosmically drip from the speakers in a mist of digital drizzle and organic contact points. Jazz guitar and bass riffs pop up like funk meerkats before being subsumed back into the slow swirling miasma.

NEW MUSIC: Chris Child & Micah Frank – Static Wheels

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US composer Chris Child & sound artist Micah Frank have recently released their second collection of songs – Tape Pieces Vol. 2, featuring this fine track, ‘Static Wheels’. Experimental post-rock and ambient drone are at the core of it, generated by the heavy use of filtering with effects so the loops blur together and bear just an echo of resemblance to its original. The ebb and flow of the track makes for a wonderfully immersive listening experience with David Lynch/Den Hurley elements in its atmospheric mood.

Tape Pieces Vol. 2 was created with TASCAM 4-Tracks, the two recorded layers of short tape loops using a few vintage synths and a Rhodes. The loops were further disseminated into drones though an array of guitar pedals. Field recordings from Portland’s coasts were subtly woven in, providing a tactile sense of place which inspired the moods of these pieces.

 

NEW MUSIC: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Steady Heart / Carrying Gravity

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Composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has recently released her new album The Mosaic of Transformation, featuring these two exceptional tracks ‘The Steady Heart’ and ‘Carrying Gravity’. Over a push/pull rhythm track, Smith weaves dream fragments of vocals amid a wafting, gossamer haze of twinkling synths and textural pads on ‘The Steady Heart’.

‘Carrying Gravity’ begins with strings before taking an almost Oriental sound and filtering it through delicate  arpeggios that hang like warm pulses in the air.

“I guess in one sentence, this album is my expression of love and appreciation for electricity,” says Smith. While writing and recording, she embraced a daily practice of physical movement, passing electricity through her body and into motion, in ways reflecting her audio practice, which sends currents through modular synthesizers and into the air through speakers. Not a dancer by any traditional definition, she taught herself improvisatory movement realizing flexibility, strength, and unexpectedly, what Smith calls “a visual language” (the term was introduced to her by filmmaker Sean Hellfritsch) stemming from the human body and comprised of vibrational shapes. Understood as cymatics, as she says, “as a reference for how frequencies can be visualized,” much like a mosaic.