Pascal Schumacher is a Luxembourgan composer and vibraphone player who’s built up an impressive resume playing with quartets through to orchestras.
This new release comes from an EP Tropismes (The Mudam Session)where he performed at Mudam, the contemporary art museum in Luxembourg, and you get a real sense of how he operates at the nexus of classical and minimal electronic composition. The lightness and beauty of his playing is hypnotic, like a dreamstate transmission. Heavy-lidded yet full of life and verve, fragile yet full fully-formed. Beautiful stuff indeed.
Check out his full-length 2020 release SOL for a full and immersive deep dive into his work.
*Shameless self-promotion – Chris Familton of DS is the bassist in the Finalists.
It’s Sydney in the year 2020 and for the last two years The Finalists have been honing their sound beneath a Waterloo tin roof, in a Petersham attic, and down long, polished corridors leading to a Marrickville practice room. The results are the musical amalgamation of singer/guitarist and songwriter Mark Tobin (Scarlet, Panic Syndrome, The Black Halo), guitarist Robert Young (The Wednesday Night, Semi Lemon Kola), bassist Chris Familton(Charlie Horse, Thorazine Shuffle) and drummer Matt Brown (Charlie Horse).
The band’s debut single, ‘Ignore All The Hate (On Your Telephone)‘, on Half A Cow Records, is an understated slice of melodic melancholia, draped in acoustic and electric guitars that sparkle and gently jangle over rolling bass and Velvet Underground meets The Ronettes drums, while Tobin sings of the darker side of social media and modern technology. “It can be a bruising experience for someone in the sights of a social media hit squad, that ruthlessly cuts down those who don’t conform to their perceived correct set of values and beliefs,” says Tobin.
“Some enjoy antagonising this mob and can cope with the resultant social media pile-on, but for others it can mess with their mind so much they decide to stay silent in the future. This song is about how to avoid the negative effects on your frame of mind if you find yourself at the centre of an awful online onslaught,” he says, offering some strong advice that, “if you have something important to say you should never pull your punches out of fear of a backlash.”
With a sound that draws on the band’s collective music history playing in a number of bands in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, they’ve concocted a blend of jangly guitar-based indie rock, with elements of psych-rock, shoegaze and post-punk threading through the music. You can hear the ghosts of Factory and Flying Nun Records, the evocative strains of The Go-Betweens and The Smiths and other Antipodean contemporaries such as Underground Lovers, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and RVG. On their debut album, the twin totems of melody and melancholy course through the sparkling and shimmering guitar lines. Elsewhere the group take flight in Sonic Youth-inspired six-string explorations.
The songs of The Finalists are predominately written by Tobin, with Young and Familton adding colour, shape, rhythm and texture. Tobin’s lyrics capture and reflect on the contemporary human experience with astute and measured poeticism – whether it’s the chronicling of fractured relationships, navigating the modern world or writing about a catastrophist who starts smoking again because he believes the world will end before he gets cancer.
Sydney songwriter Buddy Glass’ (Bruno Brayovic from Peabody) second album, Wow & Flutter (Glass Half Empty Records), is out now on vinyl, digital and streaming formats. In Mr Glass’ words:
“Wow & Flutter was recorded by me in the back room of my house in Marrickville, on a TASCAM 4-track cassette recorder, in between dogs barking and babies crying. I had to buy cassettes online from Melbourne and bought and sold several 4-track machines until I found the right one. Tim Kevin, who recorded and mixed the first album, recorded a few extra bits and pieces and mixed it. The finished album is eight songs with a couple of different vibes.””There’s the more traditional singer-songwriter style of the first couple of tracks, ‘Promised Shoreline’ – a story about a couple whose faith is tested in life and death, and ‘The Spirit of a Small Town’ – a true account of the dark goings-on of my mother’s family and her birthplace in the south of Chile. But then the album settles into its second phase. The hypnotic, trance-inducing repetition of ‘The Bird’, ‘If You Sail Out’, ‘Wasted Habit’ and ‘Yuppie, Junkie, Athlete’. The album closes with ‘The Only’ – an epic checklist of modern malaises, combining the album’s two worlds into six minutes of 60s singer-songwriter-inspired folk-drone. Yeah, I know.””I hope you like Wow & Flutter. It took me a while but I think it’s worth it.” x BG
To celebrate the release of the new album he’s also released a video clip for the new single ‘No One Can Tell You You’re Wrong’, of which he says:
“It takes a lot of courage to follow a dream. To disown everything around you and make your way through life doing what you really want to do. You might have to step on some necks. People and relationships will fall (or will be felled) by the side of the road. This song is about and for those who have that conviction and ambition. I don’t.”
“The video was made not long before my cat Nina passed away. It looks like it was an homage to her, and I guess it now kinda is, especially as she looks towards the setting sun in the final scene. The footage I got of her was just meant to be practice for the app I’m using to film, but upon revisiting it, I thought the shots really captured just how gentle and beautiful she was, so I kept it.”
“The other part of the split frame is just me driving down New Canterbury Rd from Petersham to Dulwich Hill. If you look closely early on, I managed to get one of the street lights just as it starts to flicker on. I was pretty happy with that.” BG
Sydney trio The Electorate release their debut album You Don’t Have Time To Stay Lost tomorrow, via Templebear Records/MGM. It may be their debut album but the band members have a rich lineage through a raft of Australian bands including Big Heavy Stuff, Knievel, The Apartments, The Templebears, Imperial Broads, Atticus and more.
The Electorate is: Eliot Fish (Bass/Vox), Josh Morris (Guitar/Vox), Nick Kennedy (Drums/Vox)
Guitarist Josh Morris says “I stepped away from playing music to study, work and be a parent. I’m kind of myopic and not a great multitasker. When my kids got to an age where I could pick up a guitar again I did. I had forgotten how much it meant to me, and reuniting with old friends Eliot and Nick to make music again felt like I was reclaiming a large part of myself I’d forgotten was there.”
The album was produced by Tim Kevin (The Apartments, Holly Throsby, Youth Group, Peabody, Buddy Glass) and mastered by JJ Golden (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Neko Case, Soundgarden) in California. It finds them exploring indie and pop-rock in the wide and varied sense of those styles. There’s the emotiveness of Suede, the classic songwriting of Crowded House, surging power pop, the angles and avant swerves of Modest Mouse and the bristling riffs and rhythms of a number Australian 90s bands.
Drummer Nick Kennedy was kind enough to dig back through his musical memory bank to give us an insight into some of the albums that have musically shaped him.
The first album I bought:
Helping it get to #1!
An album that soundtracked a relationship:
Field Music – Plumb
The relationship I was having with myself!
An album that inspired me to form a band:
PJ Harvey – Dry
When that came out and I realised we were the same age I seriously had to
lift my game!
An album that reminds me of my high school years:
Siouxsie & The Banshees – Tinderbox
So many but this one sticks with me. 1986 was an amazing year!
An album I’d love to hear live and played in full:
Fugazi – In On The Killtaker
… but I know it’ll never happen!
My favourite album cover art:
Leah Senior – The Passing Scene
My guilty pleasure album:
There are no guilty pleasures, but I’ll say anything by The Police. Sting,
I know right?! But what a band!
The last album I bought:
Emma Swift – Blonde On The Tracks
If anything is gonna turn you onto Dylan it’s this!
Sydney’s Golden Fang release the second single from their new album here. now here. (produced by Jay Whalley of Frenzal Rhomb)
Golden Fang, a melodic guitar band that captures the joys and contradictions of life in Sydney’s Inner West, are an indie rock group in the truest sense – independently releasing their own unique blend of rock music since 2014.
Cast an ear back across the last three decades and you’ll hear the influence of the Pixies, The Drones and Straitjacket Fits mixing sonically with the dirty grooves of the Bad Seeds and The Cruel Sea. Like local Sydney acts such as Peabody, Bluebottle Kiss and Crow, Golden Fang are a band that know how to harness poetry and visceral rock ’n’ roll.
Following the album’s first single ‘Don’t Take Your God To Town’, Golden Fang stretch out on the glorious slow-building ‘Spooner’s Lookout’. The song begins on a wistful, acoustic note before sonic layers are added and the rest of the band charges into full view, a musical vista of angular guitars and rock-solid drums blossoming before the listener’s ears.
Singer, songwriter Carl Redfern says of the song, “Though the songs not really about the place, A friend sent me a photo taken off the sign post for Spooners Lookout in the Blue Mountains with just the note ‘Looners Spookout’ (which will be a song at some point in the future). The photo lived on my wall for years it always made me smile and I never really ever wondered where the place actually was. Then, not that long ago I was in the Blue Mountains and discovered the lookout and I was struck by a powerful sense of melancholy as I was reminded of my friend who had been so important to me but was then lost to me not long after I got that photo. It’s basically a long lost love song.”
In terms of the approach the band too to the writing and arranging of ‘Spooner’s Lookout’, bassist Justin Tauber says, “We like to keep things simple in the Fang. Carl’s writing and Teo’s guitar playing are really laconic and direct. So, when Carl brought ‘Spooner’s Lookout’ into the rehearsal room, it was unusual in that there were a lot of different parts to the song,” he explains. “It presented an opportunity for us to stretch ourselves a little, and explore the dynamic and emotional range of the band. There’s memory and love and even a little regret in this song. You don’t expect that from a garage band, but I think we’re all grown ups and we know what that’s like. So I’m really happy how this one turned out.”
Let’s kick off the new week with some really nice post-rock sounds out of Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) in New Zealand. If you dig the type of music created by Mogwai and Jakob then this will be your kind of thing. ‘Ultraviolet’ is moody, dark and ominous even when it’s not heavy. It’s cinematic too, but still operates in a compositional rock format.
Empasse is the work of Nick Johnston, a local government bureaucrat by day and musician by night. Some of Nick’s previous bands include post-rock band Sora Shima, and indie pop bands The Changing Same and Dynamo Go.
Nick describes the Ultraviolet EP as a “soundtrack to a story that is not well known in New Zealand outside the Waikato Region where I live” – the story of the town of Rotowaro, a former mining village that was entirely removed in the 1980s to make way for an opencast coal mine. The mine fuelled the Huntly Power Station, the largest thermal power station in New Zealand which has been identified as responsible for over half of New Zealand’s carbon emissions from electricity generation.
“Ultraviolet is about the damage and wounds that we cannot see – in this case, it is the rural communities that have battered over many generations to grow and power our larger cities, as well as the carbon emissions damaging the health of our planet.”
Figure 8 is a haunting and dream-like piece of instrumental ambient composition from 22 year old queer, nonbinary ambient artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Andy Schiaffino from Los Angeles.
There’s a David Lynch, otherworldly atmosphere to both the music and the video clip – like a ghostly ballroom soliloquy from a bygone era. The song is a cover of a cover — originally a children’s song on the educational cartoon ‘Schoolhouse Rock’, popularised by Elliott Smith’s cover of it on his Figure 8 LP. Here it’s given a similar treatment to artists such as The Caretaker and William Basinski.
The song appears on body / negative’s new album Fragments due October 23rd on LA label Track Number Records.
The Aotearoa/New Zealand trio Wax Chattels release the final single from their new album Clot, out September 25 via Flying Nun and Captured Tracks.
The vitriolic choruses of ‘Cede’ are in AmandaCheng’s (bass/vocals) native language — Taiwanese Hokkien — and are an indignant confrontation about Cross-Strait relations and self-determination.
Amanda Cheng on ‘Cede’ — “I am angry. Saying “you don’t know who I am” in Taiwanese Hokkien is to say “you don’t get to tell me who I am”. You don’t just scream like this to put on an album — you scream like this because it’s the only thing you can do.
This song is an affront to the near-silent cultural genocide that’s taking place — the censorship, the militant threats — and the international community’s insistence on practicing diplomacy with economics at the front of mind. If it takes a loud song that’s half in an unfamiliar language for people to ask, “what’s that about?”, then so be it.”
Amanda Cheng on the video for ‘Cede‘ below — “I set out to make a video that was unenjoyable to watch; unhinging a domestic, ‘safe’ setting. To contrast the blunt lyrics, the thematic statements in the video are more subtle — there’s a geopolitical narrative there, but you’ll miss it.”
The video was directed by Amanda, with the helping hands of Annabel Kean and Callum Devlin of Sports Team.