Previously Kera & The Lesbians, KERA have joined up with folk musician Devendra Banhart for this beautiful slice of cosmic folk music that encourages and touts the joy and importance of communal support and resilience. It’s dreamy, heartfelt and gently soul-stirring stuff.
Blissed out hypo-indie sounds from New York drummer Alex Beckmann who records under the name MMBLR. ‘That Breeze’ is a nice mix of studio nous and songwriting. There’s a warm, bucolic mood to the song which possesses a stylistic blend of folky/trip-hop influences.
Tip Of The Sphere
Anti- / Cooking Vinyl Australia
For a number of years, across seven albums, Cass McCombs flew under the radar for the most part. He was recognised for his work but it wasn’t until the critical acclaim and success of Mangy Love in 2016 that he went overground and found himself the talk of the indie world. That album was a fairly direct affair with a smooth veneer and darker themes lurking beneath the surface. Now, on Tip Of The Sphere, McCombs has taken a more circuitous route with a more cohesive, hypnotic and searching sound.
There’s a bucolic feel to much of the album, ‘Estrella’ being a typical example of the way McCombs weaves a 70s folk aesthetic into dreamy indie rock. There’s a fair amount of repeated phrases and insistent bass rhythms that add to the heady, aqueous and meditative vibe. ‘Real Life’ is like Tim Buckley jamming with Porno For Pyros with its percussion, strummed guitars and new age mysticism. The album centrepiece ‘Sleeping Volcanoes’ is a real highlight with cascading guitars, primitive yet pulsating bass and McCombs’ way with constantly renegotiated vocal melodies forging a gentle path through the song. ‘Prayer For Another Day’ is a more intellectually astute cousin to Kurt Vile, heading closer to the newer work of Steve Gunn.
Perhaps sensing a need to inject some aural unease into proceedings, ‘American Canyon Sutra’ is a queasy trip through spoken word over a minimal drum machine that distracts rather than provide an engaging contrast. It’s only a momentarily blip before the cosmic psych folk resumes and the album closes out with the ten minute countrified jazz-fusion noodling of ‘Rounder’, a glowing reverie of sun kissed guitars that embarks, mid-song, on a psychedelic journey that sounds like it could wind on endlessly into the cosmos.
All in all this feels like an intimate set of creative and explorative musical expositions. Eloquent, contemplative and for the most part intriguing and absorbing.
Hey, we’re putting on a gig! Yep, we go to so many gigs and we know a good lineup when we see one so we’re putting on a Sydney show with three great acts. There’s a personal disclaimer with this in that I play bass in The Finalists.
Head to The Petersham Bowling Club on Sunday March 10th and you can catch the cosmic country, psych rock ‘n’ roll of The Ramalamas, the sonic alchemist that is Darren Cross (think a future folk version of Leo Kottke meets lo-fi, psychedelic, avant pop) and newish Sydney group The Finalists who blend twelve-string Rickenbacker jangle with post-punk and indie psych rock.
Plus a specially curated DS playlist between bands.
Petersham Bowling Club
The Green Room (downstairs)
Sunday March 10th
Bristol-based Kayla Painter has released a new EP called Cannibals At Sea. Taking influence from her mixed British and Fijian heritage, Painter creates a hypnotic and mystical piece of experimental music that takes in tonal explorations, drone, ethereal vocal layers and electronic and traditional instrumentation. The result is mesmerising, haunting and alluring.
Here’s a new tune from Ben Serna-Grey (Mother Anxiety), someone I haven’t come across before. ‘Father Time’ has a really interesting mix of drone and otherworldly folk music yet it’s placed in a compositional, electronic realm where the different sonic mediums are mixed and twisted, layered and densely woven together, to the point of static decay and fractal implosion. The result is quite mesmerising.
WINKING AT POP MUSIC
Matt Corby has come a long way from his solo folk beginnings. Here he takes us into the creative process behind his colourful new second album, Rainbow Valley.
by Chris Familton
The album title suggests some kind of idealised nature-based community where everything exists in harmony and for Corby and his family, that’s why they’ve settled in the area of the same name, in the lush surrounds of Northern NSW. “The house is situated in an amazing tropical paradise where you only really hear birds. With that kind of silence comes a certain amount of focus. I wouldn’t have made an album that sounds like this if it was somewhere that wasn’t picturesque,” Corby believes. “It was fitting to call it Rainbow Valley because it marks the place that was needed to facilitate the record coming into existence. It’s quite a sunny feel through most of it but it does have some dark moments too. It’s quite happy in an introspective way,” he adds.
The physical process of finding inspiration and capturing those ideas has become music easier in Corby’s home, with the studio he’s set up there. “I have a space I can come to where everything is set up and ready to go with mic channels, a drum kit, synths, guitars and amps. That’s made the workflow heaps easier. I can go in there on a good week and do a couple of good songs.”
Over a string of early EPs, Corby made his name with a strong folk sound that gained comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young but he increasingly added soul and psychedelic influences. ARIA Awards and high charting singles followed, culminating in his debut album Telluric hitting #1 on the Australian charts. Now he’s taken the rich and modern psych-soul sound of that album and added some fascinating new angles and colours.
“I think it’s a continuation in my weird way. I never really want to make one thing again. This one is slightly more pop. It’s not necessarily pop music but it’s winking at it quite heavily. I could have gone really weird, which I naturally want to do, or have a crack and make something that is really palatable for lots of people without compromising too much,” says Corby.
The genesis of Rainbow Valley came from a few songs that didn’t make the final cut for Telluric. Corby then spent a year jamming and experimenting in his home studio with longtime friend and musical foil Alex Henriksson before he was ready to head to Byron Bay to again work with producer Dann Hume and put together the album. “Alex and I like the experimental phase and not necessarily the hard work of refining songs and trimming them and getting lyrics and melodies concise. We’d just put beats down and do fun sounding stuff. It got me to the point where when I was seriously writing songs for the album, 18 months ago, I had had all that experimentation behind me so it was easy in the moment to know what to do and reference those jams and pull bits out and use them,” Corby explains.
Corby’s creativity has evolved and matured to a point where he plays all the instruments on Rainbow Valley and he’s found the confidence and musical ability to find the sweet spot where a variety of genres blend seamlessly, where traditional and ultra modern sounds coexist and with a balance between experimentation and commercial viability.
“More and more I’m conscious of others in my creative process. I used to be against what others thought ‘fuck you, this is my art!’ Now that I’ve digested a lot of other music I understand things like what genres and time period things fit into and what referencing those does for a modern audience. It probably comes from doing music for a long time and it definitely comes into play when I make music,” Corby reflects. “When I hit something that feels good, I usually feel good because I think that other people will probably like it, which is kind of cool. Hopefully I’ve got that right on this record.”
The idea of loneliness is explored beautifully on this track from Aaron Taos. He places the vocals right in the middle of the mix while drum machine, atmospheric guitars and other effects swirl and drift around the central vortex of the song.
Taos says of the song… ‘Loneliness’ is a song I wrote when I was going through a really rough patch. I was in the midst of a bout of depression brought out by a stagnation of my career and wasn’t really leaving the house. It was winter, which made things worse. What really helped me feel better was remembering that career/music isn’t everything and appreciating the relationships around me, specifically that of my girlfriend at the time. She was a shining light through my dark time, reminding me that as important as your goals are, connection and love is the foundation of feeling good and whole.