So you may not realize but you know all these laptop DJs making huge cash money while perpetuating extreme digital beats? Well, that whole gag is actually more difficult than it looks. In the late 90s it was as easy as plugging in the right numbers and generating a track based entirely on an algorithm. Artists like The Chemical Bros and Prodigy were actually just fabrications of big business music moguls who were ready to cash in on current trends using prepared equations. They didn’t even exist as musical entities and their music videos were generated entirely using CGI to give the illusion that there were actually human faces behind the music. The scary reality is that all those songs were simply the output of a supercomputer that became known as Pilcrox-II from 1991 onwards.
Sadly, sometime during the 2005 pop-punk resurgence, the technology was lost. Guerilla organisations stole the powerpoint charger for Pilcrox-II which was only available at [the now defunct] Games Wizard in Chatswood which effectively heralded the end of electronic music as we knew it.
These days it takes a lot more work for our “computer music” friends to craft their songs but there is one has never stopped fighting the good fight. He is Tim Shiel. I’m contractually oblige to tell you that Tim Shiel is actually so good at using these modern computer software systems that he actually delivers webinars to underprivileged bedroom producers (many of whom don’t even have bedrooms) to give them the skills to pay the bills or at the very least, score a whole bunch of plays on soundcloud. In Tim Shiel there is hope that maybe we can still excavate some of what was lost in that golden age of electronica. Timothy’s most recent full length body of work is the Duet Soundtrack. This series of songs was designed to be heard interactively whilst playing the IOS game of the same name. It’s hard to say whether the game or the soundtrack is stronger which is testament to the quality of the both.
As if that weren’t enough, the whole entire damn thing has been handed over to some of Tim’s friends who have obliged him with shifty new takes on those thrumming originals. Actually that’s not quite right, these affairs are more than just remixes, extending into the realm of collaboration- taking and reshaping the fabric of the originals. Listen to this record from start to finish twice because this package shifts and changes and develops your mind with each submission. If I had to offer a complaint, and contractually I do have to offer a complaint, it’s that I would have liked to see a Shiel joint layered with some scuzzy vocal work over the top so as to take the recontextualising even farther. Not that this missing piece in any way damages these new incarnations which compile a diverse and interesting release and stand a bold contrast to the direct and focused work that was the original soundtrack. If I had to pick a favorite (and I do, contractually) mine is Clue To Kalo’s work on Pachinko. The guy has brought in a nod to videogame history by injecting a bassline akin to the Mario pipe segments, then pushed and pulled the beat around the song and thrown in a sub-continental vocal section.
I am also acutely aware that for a guy who claims not to enjoy remixes I’ve been writing about an awful lot of remixes these past few weeks. Forgive me my inconsistencies.
You might be wont to assume that the ‘holy triumvirate’ (as i understand the Sound Doc writers are now being collectively referred to in hushed tones by ‘music types’) are living in the glamorous world of the media. Feted constantly by champagne breakfasts, press releases, promos and interviews inhabited formerly only by the likes of Pitchfork and Dolly Magazine*. The reality of the situation is that this couldn’t be further from the truth, there are no press releases, interviews or feting – there is no champagne, there isn’t even any breakfast. Reggie Maurice doesn’t even have a home, he writes all his posts tapping McDonalds wi-fi sleeping at highway truck stops. He’s a really lovely guy though, don’t forget that. Rather we grind our grubby little noses around the far flung corners of the internet in search of “that sound”.
It was on one such journey deep into the heartland of soundcloud that we uncovered the impossible to google Problems Music. Problems music has evolved out of the Adelaide bedroom of Justin Walkden, initially a solo project before expanding to bring in Shane Lock on vocals. They’ve released a handful of tracks onto soundcloud ahead of an EP coming later this month.
The pieces we have so far show us glitchy loop based pop, covered in wavering vocals. The sort of music that soundtracks the scenes of expectant hope just before the climactic scenes in indie dramas. Across their soundcloud’s content you’ll hear fingerpicked moments and sitar meanderings spliced among flittering synth and what to me sounds like a pair of vocalists rather than just the one piper as listed. Beneath it all the more drawn out synth chords recline, pretending the part of a string section. Sink your teeth into it today, and wait for more tomorrow.
*[Tommy: This is actually an accurate summary of my own side of things, there's just no flow through on the Sound Doctrine income streams so...]
D.D Dumbo is older than the earth itself, an institution that was birthed into life amid lashing tongues of flame and ash, tendrils of smoke oozing from the ground as titans fought over right of ownership while empires rose and fell in earnest and heated defence of the Dumbo moniker. His hands have healed the ailments of the lame, dictatorships have been crushed under his heel and his lips peel back in condemnation of humanity’s inequity. His 2012 EP broke most olympic records in the fields of athletics, aquatics, equestrian, shooting and deadweights while his Who The Hell photo essay won the 2013 world press photo. Each and every visual representation (including the video below) contains constant and exclusive use of the divine section while mathematically speaking, all five songs from his EP demonstrate the same golden ratio. Many have put down his extreme sonic expressionism to an absence of both sweat glands and tear ducts and theorise that it’s merely a case of his body finding the best way to dispense of excess fluids.
Castlemaine – New recordings on the way – Destroyed SXSW
George Harrison’s sitar noodling and Graceland-era Paul Simon aside, I haven’t seen the ‘World Music’ section at JB-HiFi expanding much recently. Speaking of which, was there ever such a reductionist cop-out term as ‘World Music’? Truth: the world is a scary, horrible place, filled with many ideas and places that aren’t Chatswood.
Enter Shunya (AKA Bal Singh) and his new EP ‘Petrichor’. I can’t rate this release highly enough. This Melbourne talent is an oasis in the creative desert I like to call ‘music from Melbourne’. According to his bandcamp page, Shunya is an ‘electronic musician/Indian classical musician/producer/sitar/tabla player’, and at this stage I’m getting the idea that the guy can do a lot of things. His tunes span the genres, interlacing heavy beats with sitar and jazz double bass and lyrics in at least 2 languages (including English). Listen:
Remixes are a tricky beast as I see it, primarily because they’re loathed by some and the lifeblood of others. On my end, I’ll usually select the ‘excluding remixes’ option on hype machine because more often than not, they can piss right off. They seem an unnecessary piece of content that’s most often singularly designed to keep the artist-consumer conversation going. Got a record just released but still four months until your east coast tour? Get a remix EP out there fella. Usually it just screams filler.
I’m analyzing these differently because I’m highly biased toward Swimming who are most glorious beings (praise upon their name) doing things in Adelaide that aint no one else doing anywhere. More than the sum of my preconceptions though, there’s something about the voices of sisters Angela and Katie Schilling that lend themselves flawlessly to the blissful production underscoring these new takes. Glamour Lakes and Super Magic Hats have both included slightly more muscle but neither here enter the banger realm. There’re enough producer/vocalist duos in Australia’s capital cities right now to dramatically affect the next census but if someone were to pitch these five songs as the work of a brand new entity they’d have both my ears and my words. So ignore anything bracketed in the below song titles and receive them anew, the fresh fruits of an unknown labour. It shouldn’t be too hard given how criminally underrepresented Swimming have been across all medias since the release of their debut record which is, incidentally, the source of all stems here and 100% worth tracking down.