In-Frequencies #5: Dro Carey, Mad Nanna, Circle Pit, Chaos Kids
As part of an ongoing series, SHAUN PRESCOTT rounds up some new-ish cassette, CD-R and vinyl releases including a compilation of Newcastle acts and a belated review of Circle Pit’s synth-pop double side.
(7?, Spectacular Commodity, 2011)
First 7? from Electric Jellyfish’s Michael Beach since his 2008 LP [Blood Courses](/releases/2000278) and his [re-re-location](/news/3860992) to San Francisco. The a-side is lethargic country rock with some fairly obvious debts to Neil Young, but it’s beautiful stuff, lonely and sparse. The b-side is also indebted to Neil Young but it’s a lot more frantic. You get the feeling that this format can’t really contain Beach’s material: his is a style that should soldier on earnestly, take prisoners, puncture hearts, entertain for a whole dreary, beery afternoon.
Michael Beach – A Horse by Mess+Noise
(7?, Jackknife, 2011)
Cheeky pop punk from Melbourne. That’s pretty much all you need to know, but let’s be honest: I really don’t like this, nor anything that sounds like it. It dutifully ticks boxes: there’s a couple of chords per song and the lyrics are seemingly designed to be yelled in unison at clothing-brand-sponsored rock ?experiences?. They’re got the potential to win a lot of fans, and when they do you’ll probably dislike them too. The truth is that this record is strong enough, and the duo’s passion for the style can’t be questioned, but with so much stuff like this available it’d be a total accident if they became your favourite band. Landfill punk for your next existential crisis, if you’re in your 50s.
(7?, Hardly Art, 2011)
As a passionate subscriber to the Circle Pit fan club, it’s difficult to make sense of their detractors. They’re a rock band with something suspiciously visionary about them, and that [pisses people off](/articles/3917459). This isn’t a rock record: it’s a hang dog synth-pop double side that’ll make you want to dump your significant other just for the poignant pain it’ll proffer. Even if you don’t have the guts to do that (you don’t) there’s something aching and relatable – yet just out of reach – about these simple songs that will make you sad, make you replay, make you almost want to be them. And when was the last time you wanted to be Gypsy and the Cat? In a climate where fashion and sound isn’t allowed to correlate lest it be accused of being dishonest, there’s something daring about the way Circle Pit plunder back catalogue yet manage to inhabit it so completely. They’re like A-grade actors with proper axes to grind.
(Digital, independant, 2011)
Yep, Daterape. This doesn’t sound anything like [Brian McFadden](http://www.youtube.com/watch’v=qhft4WmMJeM) though, and the name is where the dubious provocation ends. Daterape trades in solemn and downbeat synth pop, with the four tracks here switching between threatening and resigned. ?Lynquist? sounds like a war machine becoming sentient, while ?Mechatron? is all chrome hued freeways and sobbing smoke plumes. Machaevol is one of two free EPs available from the producer’s [Bandcamp](http://daterape.bandcamp.com) page. Definitely worth checking out, just don’t ?like? it on Facebook.
(Digital, Templar Sound, 2011)
Unlike most Australian producers that grace this website’s pages, Dro Carey doesn’t sound like he’s ever listened to Boards of Canada or any of Dan Snaith’s (Manitoba, Caribou) incarnations. There’s a lot of London and Detroit here, but it’s not afraid to lather textures in a transcendental way – even while some of the styles he draws from here (dubstep, minimal techno) tease with melodic possibilities between the bass pulses, and make a virtue of subtlety. Dro Carey works within rigid beat grids but has no sense of restraint otherwise, which is a very, very beautiful thing. It’s serrated pop music that refuses easy visual stimuli: you won’t be seeing modern architecture, forlorn futures, retro-futuristic spacescapes. It’s a strange portal in-between, and considering UK grime MC Trim’s cameo here, it’s presence in an Australian music column seems completely arbitrary. Electronic music should sometimes be from nowhere. This is from somewhere else.
(7?, Alberts Basement, 2011)
This Melbourne group – whose fluid line-up seems to revolve around one Michael Zukicki – sounds like Jandek singing in a room to himself while Vincent over the Sink fiddles around in the corner. ?I’ve Been Talking? was recorded live at the Empress but it sounds like the band was sleeping on the job. ?I Made Blood Better? picks up the pace a little, bravely maintaining an average of one-chord per minute. There’s a kinda voyeuristic aura to Mad Nanna – it sounds like the audio diaries of a psych-ward incumbent – but it’s this sense of intimate access to the unstable that makes this debut such a compulsive listen, and given the variety between these two tracks it’ll be fun to see how much more Zukicki’s crew has to offer. Here’s hoping they learn nothing between now and the next record.
Naked on the Vague
(7?, RIP Society, 2011)
?Stadium goth? is a term being bandied about with regards to this new NOTV outing, but if anything they’ve shrunken a tad since their last LP [Heaps of Nothing](/releases/2000615). They sounded massive then, but there’s a focus on the smaller touches here: ?Abstract Figures? doesn’t bludgeon, it creeps. You won’t be able to sing (or hum, as is the case here) to this straight away. You’ll think the song kinda sucks (I did) until it stealthily lodges in your memory, at which point you’ll listen again, and again, and swear by them (again). It’s not that NOTV haven’t been clever before, but there’s nothing anthemic about this, and it’s a few moons removed from ‘These Days’, for example. Mood prevails and births an earworm when you’re least suspecting, and suffice to say it doesn’t sound much like anything they’ve done before providing your ears are attuned to goth-inclined punk rock music. Which they absolutely should be, by the way. The world has caught up with NOTV, intermittently, but they’re quietly edging forward.
(Cassette, Alberts Basement, 2011)
Wherein this Brisbane group, whose selling point is that they create their own instruments, transcend their status as mere-curio and become a band you’ll want to listen to more than once. The emergence of vocals helps, with Sarah Byrne’s sometimes shouty/sometimes moaning/sometimes crooning(!) vocalisations pushing some moments here into Pel Mel territory, albeit ones brought to life with speaker box bass and ?leg horns?, rather than anything you can buy at Billy Hyde. Hopefully this will get a proper CD or vinyl release at some point because this deserves more than a run of 100 tapes. You can dance and sing along to this, which is a welcome development indeed. Experimental pop where the ?experimental? pretence is gloriously beside the point.
Fangs of A Vengeful Altar Boy/Injured Ninja
(7?, Aniseed Records, 2011)
Fangs of… are a modern day jam band with screaming vocal addendum. Dry, precise, indeterminate, vaguely mathy hardcore, with vocal addendum. Probably good live (I can vouch for Fangs Of… being fun), but absolutely awe-strikingly boring on record. These guys should just make badges instead. As for Injured Ninja, well, you could probably say the same thing. Without stooping so low as to question ?the point? of their existence, it’s safe enough to say that fans of vaguely pissed-off guitar music may, at a stretch, enjoy this, assuming it’s the only thing in this field currently available to you. Which it most certainly isn’t.
(Cassette, Altered States Tapes, Grog Pappy, 2011)
If you were hoping to maintain the (rather fun) notion that Newcastle bands exist in their own [gloriously weird vacuum](/galleries/4283532), then just ignore the awkwardly iconoclastic name of this release and feast your eyes on the contributors: Stitched Vision, Reunion Sacred Ibis, Cock Safari, Alzheimer Blanks etc etc. If this amounts to a scene, then none of them are talking (though in reality, they mostly do) but they’re feeling roughly the same thing. Newcastle groups excel at the kind of doggedly-unpretentious but unwittingly affecting sounds that makes otherwise unpalatable music transiently fascinating to the dilettante, and totally transcendent to the well-versed. Are they all just rubbing off on one another? Are all the lesser known names here (World of Trouble, Shitxsfmcrudd) only good because they adopt, via some sonic osmosis, the charisma of their better known brethren? The truth is blurry. What you have here is music so heavily entrenched in a post-post-millenial dread, a sense of humoured uselessness and despair, a sense of deep and honest disenfranchisement, that it transcends the horrid ?talentless-hacks-with-effects-pedals? image that noise has duly adopted since it’s brief fling with a more mainstream audience back in the mid-’00s. No one (generally speaking) is ever going to give more than two shits about noise music, but if for some reason they did, this compilation is world class. Snap this up immediately for a drab evaluation of this epoch.
Prehistoric Fuckin’ Moron
Live @ Vox 02/10/10
(Cassette, Altered States Tapes, 2011)
It’s the fucken moron recorded live. Sound quality is emphatically dodgy, and it’s safe to say you’ll probably only listen to this once, just to see where he’s at. Several longnecks and your back side’s acquaintance with Vox Cyclops’ floor is pretty integral here, in all honesty: this feels like a keepsake release, a reminder of PFM’s trashily evocative noise filtered through several layers of tobacco smoke and room sound. For diehards only.
IN-FREQUENCIES #4: [Pond, NoTV, UV Race, Johnny Casino](/articles/4237967).
IN-FREQUENCIES #3: [Kirin J Callinan, Bare Grillz, Hammocks And Honey](/articles/4199599).
IN-FREQUENCIES #2: [Tough Troubles, Lakes, Brainwaves](/articles/4172041).
IN-FREQUENCIES #1: [Absolute Boys, Pageants, Southern Comfort, Taco Leg](/articles/4134517).