Luluc are a tricky post that are making the cut by virtue of a technicality. Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett spend split their time between Melbourne and Brooklyn, the latter where this track and it’s containing album were recorded. Just for laughs they enlisted The National’s Bryce Dessner after they called their mate Darren to see if he could produce their record but Darren wasn’t free so Bryce came through as a last resort. Still, Bryce has done a pretty nice job of it, at least on this first track ‘Without A Face’. A game I’ve enjoyed playing while listening is called ‘Guess If It’s Zoë Or Steve Singing’. Usually I start the track thinking it’s clear cut Steve but by midway through I’m not so sure anymore. Shakers and fingerpicking and eventual strings that would drive home the sentiment if I knew exactly what the sentiment was, ‘Without A Face’ is going to burrow into the same heart-space you’ve had empty since you stopped listening to Iron & Wine. The duo make use of the bittersweet broad metaphor work that Andrew Bird so successfully trades in and I for one am impressed with the results. July 11 will see it out through Inertia and Mistletone in Australia where in the US it’ll be out through the little known Sub-Pop music company.
You’ve probably been reading my posts this year in a pleasured stupour, basking in the radiant joy of the process, agreeing with each and every comment, telling your friends that you read the single greatest blog on the planet. The ease of it all, one post and one song, a perfect ratio of title to word to song image. It’s almost interplanetary alignment in its precision but even the movement of planets must eventually make way for the asteroid storm that is today’s post. It’s a wrap-up of some of the [Australian] electronic based tunes I’ve been listening to of late, tunes that each deserve a post to call their own but this is a shoe-string universe and the recession hit hard so we’re I’m forced to make do with the limited rations I’ve been allotted. So read on in the knowledge that this post is a game changer. India might be in the midst of the single biggest election in the history of humanity but right here on Sound Doctrine is where you’ll find a deconstruction of several tracks from Australian producers. Think on it.
Laptop Destroyer – Commercial Sellout Rubbish
Not everything on this list is necessarily shrink wrapped and straight off the shelf this week, in particular this Laptop Destroyer track from ZZAAPP Beats Vol. 1 EP, borne of Summer’s warmth back in February. It’s named of its father label ZZAAPP Records who you may recall from the Sparkle Gang track Reggie wrote about earlier in the week. ZZAAPP looks like it’s going to be a promising source of diverse and talented artists and certainly they’re two from two so far. The beat sounds like the thunderings of a body against a corrugated iron roof and the (what you’d have to call) choruses are powered over still by that acidic distortion that lends an industrial cut to the whole affair.
This is fight music – Eminem.
Andrei Eremin – Voynich Manoeuvre
This one from Andrei “The Colossus” Eremin has a broadbrushed spaciness to it that’s normally reserved for the minimalist, heartfelt Enya-isms of post-Oliver Tank Australia. No shot at Oliver Tank this, he does what he does better than most that followed in his wake and if you want to feel what he wants you to feel than he’s the man to help you feel that. Again, still sounding kind of neg on OT here, certainly not meaning to be. What I’m getting at though, is that it’s not so easy to deliver the warmth and breadth of a song as “big” as ‘Voynich Manoeuvre’ without the skillset that Eremin clearly possesses. He’s worked with plenty of the now up-and-comers within the bounds of mastering and mixing and it’s clear he’s taken a whole bunch of beneficial cues from the process. The whole thing reminds me of that late nineties era where club and goth formed an unlikely ven diagram and within that central sector might sit a track like this one / the rave scene from Blade.
Holomorph – Want
Holomorph spent his formative months remixing the likes of Ciara, Missy Elliot and Christina Aguilera but in the last few months he’s attempted work entirely his own, his White Sea EP. The EP itself is frought with a issues of palette and would benefit from a departure from the trap based drum sample set but as a stand alone single ‘Want’ is worthy. There’s a pitched up, cut up vocal sample that hits interchangeably with the maxed out floor drum but the real joy is the twinkling arpeggios that send me straight back to Final Fantasy VII’s opening theme. My kingdom to any beatmaker who can remind me of gaming’s hay day.
ZZZ – Honey
That unashamed Pikachu (“Pika!”) sample in the first few seconds. The croaky pitched shifted bass bites that reference Ginuwine’s equestrian heyday (“you mean that WASN’T a Rihanna original!?”). The slightly off pitch high synth that serves as the warning sign of an impending Wave Racer/Sable chorus-drop. The smorgasboard of sample and synth sound on this song is entertaining to the finish and is the DNA of what may be the funnest song of the year. There’s even a section between 2:45-2:55 wherein ZZZ not only affects the pitch of the track but even (*gasp*) the tempo! Is that allowed? Has he applied for the relevant government permits? Does he even know how much taxpayer money is wasted litigating producers like these who haven’t followed proper process? Probably not but I laughed out loud the first time I heard that pace change in the track so I know in my heart of hearts that it’s right. This is justice.
Shūnya – In The Woods
“These songs are all too long Tommy! I’m but a barber from an upper middle inner-west boutique cafe/face-stylist studio, how am I too come to terms with anything over two minutes long?”
Worry not my beard sculpting contemporary, Shūnya is similarly disenchanted with the world’s self-indulgences and has opted into no more than sixty two seconds of our planet’s fleeting discourse, his fingers skitting quickly across the bass-sound programmed track pad in an act he knows can only temporarily lift the yoke from the back of mankind. The suffering continues but in Shūnya the pain abates for but a single moment. His dissected harp and twinkling marimba-like (I know it’s not a marimba, I just don’t know what the hell that instrument is called) tones are a balm on our long-anguished souls. Praise be.
De’ Kcuf – Diamonds
Because this roundup wouldn’t be complete without a track design to truly level the bassend of your system, here’s the newest offering from De’ Kcuf. De’ Kcuf loses points for having an impossibly difficult to pronounce name but two minutes into the track those points are regained in the act of utilising a stadium synth sound that was undoubtably informed by Darude’s Sandstorm in ’02 (and pretty much every other song Darude did, for that matter). If I were to put a marker on anything but the low end I’d be missing the point here so ensure your system is sufficient before turning the decibels clockwise on this one. If the name sounds vaguely familiar to you (which I doubt since it’s a bile inducing cross breed of strange grammar and mental consonant structure) it might be because you’ve heard FBi presenters attempt to back announce Coconut Bounce, the equally juicy ‘other track’ by De’ Kcuf.
The Ship Shape – Sprinkler
In describing this last one I was tempted to use words like exuberant or bouncy but there’s an ankle breaking lurch to the beat and movement of the rythm that seems to object to such rounded terms. You’ve only to look at the wave form and see the moments of near silence that pepper the track to come to terms with why this is such a fundamentally strange song. Many impressionist painters famously had their works described as ‘unfinished’ when they went to exhibition, notably in that there was rarely any varnish on the ultimate canvas and I get a similar sense on this track. It feels unfinished but it’s a producer’s decision and not one made out of ignorance. The silences and spaces and tactically used to galvanise the blips and beeps and that are spattered amongst them.
Reesepushkin – Scrunchie
So I’ve published this post with this so accidentally omitted and this is a late edited inclusion. The track is out through Yes Please and the moniker is the alias of young unearthed high finalist JaysWays. He realeased it simulatenously with a single under his JaysWays mantle and this is easily the more interesting though the JaysWays track might have more crossover appeal and has a vocal part by Nicole “Feature Vocal” Millar.
The industry standard method for generating hype in the lead up for a release or what those fatcats will refer to as the first part of a ‘release cycle’ is to break a long period of silence with some mutterings of a brand new single (and/or video) before following up with the single itself. Fergus Miller (more commonly referred to as Bored Nothing) doesn’t seem to attend to these more strategically orchestrated plannings and as a result it can be difficult to know whether his latest soundcloud offering is a demo, some throwaway noodlings or the lead single from his next record. Now I’m ninety-five percent sure this one is the first single of a new record but if not, sorry Fergus and sorry readership but you’ve always known I dealt in feelings rather than facts.
For brevity’s sake I’m going to compress the Bored Nothing timeline for you; He got some Unearthed love and then put out a record with Spunk and toured a bit. The record was really, really good and now here with are with single one (probably) from a new record (probably). It plods forward, the bassline drunk with regret while the twanging guitar sways between either side of the street, equally intoxicated and dampened by the 4am mist. ‘Why Were You Dancing With All Those Guys’ is the type of question and song that encapsulates the dilemmas you’ll find in the latter part of an episode of Freaks & Geeks. You know what, I think that’s as good as it’s going to get; this song is basically an episode of Freaks & Geeks.
With a bold opening groove underpinning a killer melody line, this song grabs your attention and white knuckles it for all three minutes. Every few bars a new element is added to maintain interest, be it a (very) interesting vocal harmony, a glitchy synth line or an acoustic guitar. It is the greatest kind of sonic mash, one that assumes the best from us; that we can handle it.
Sparkle Gang is Mel Stringer, and not much is known except that she wrote this song on the 22nd floor of a Surfer’s Paradise apartment building, has buckets of talent, and a unique taste in album art. The tune is out through ZZAAPP Records, the Darwin-based project of Kris Keogh (who interestingly enough put out an incredible ambient album a few years ago with New Weird Australia that involved processed and cut-up harp sounds. It was great then, and it’s aged as well as a 1959 Penfolds Grange).
This release is more interesting still because they’ve included Mel’s original stripped-back acoustic demo for the track (which is stunning, incidentally) and comparing demo to final product really serves to highlight how much a song can evolve during the recording process. Like language, music isn’t static but alive and mutating constantly n dis iz wat makes music heapz gr8 lol*. There’s a soundcloud full of her very, very, very pretty acoustic wares that you should spend a while involved with.
*[Editors Note]: Sorry
As soon as you hear the first chants of “Kobe Kobe” you recognize that this is going to be a basketball song. “Chase your dream” croons Yeo, early in the piece. It’s hard to tell at this point whether the song is written to Kobe Bryant or from the point of view of Kobe Bryant but it becomes apparent at the 1:53 mark with the line “Summer heat on an empty street”. In that moment it suddenly blooms like a spring orchard and you know, you just know that this is Kobe dissing Lebron. Heat on an empty street? Oh no he didn’t.
(Yes he did.)
It’s hard to imagine Lebron letting this one slide and we’ll probably see him shoot back, maybe through a song by Gossling or Panama, though sources say he has some tendrils in the Saskwatch camp. This is the first time we’ve seen an NBA player commission a song from an independent Melbourne artist and given the profile of the player this might set a precedent we’ll see followed many times over upcoming season. It’s also interesting to see Yeo moving in this direction given the sentimentality of his previous gendered anthem ‘Girl’. That song managed to cultivate some audience for Yeo and this one is a strong followup for an artist who has been more active over the past few years than you may already realize. ‘Kobe’ features the same rumbling bass sound in the verses that was present in ‘Girl’ but the chorus is a far brighter synth overload. It’s right on the verge of over-polish but retreats before vertigo sends the whole thing plummeting into unlistenability. What we’re left with is a legitimate pop song cloaked in the greys and browns of an independent Melbourne production. Strong song Yeo, strong song.