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September 2021


Music, a shining light in a shitty world! After yet another month with the shopfront closed, we’re managing to get our hands on new music that excites us and trying to figure out the easiest (and safest!) ways to get it to you. Along with our usual shipping and store pickup options, we’ve also added a free local delivery option for a bunch of suburbs in the Inner West (find it under the shipping options section of the check-out!). Logistics, not the most exciting aspect of independent music retail, but we’re trying to do right in these “unprecedented times”.

On another note we’ve added a Used tab of the webstore in the hope of digitally replicating some of the sense of chance, discovery and fun of being in the shop. Keep your eyes peeled for weekly listings. 

Now that all the housekeeping is out of the way, on to the new stuff that’s rolled into the store this past month.

The Eurozone & UKs Many Edges of “Experimental”?

August saw a batch of releases coming over from the UK and Europe, a handful of which sit comfortably within the avant-garde, but the majority shift between the boundaries of so-called experimental music and something else. Be it Bass Music, Underground Rock or Chicago House Operas. 

Three especially new titles from Alter now on the webstore, and each given the Nic-writeup treatment in the past couple of weeks. PRIVAT’s ‘Ein Gedachtnis Rollt Sich Auf Der Zunge Aus’ sees “the clashing of a rough/spontaneous D-I-Y sensibility with the conceptual/textural edge of music reminds me of industrial music pioneers SPK and Cabaret Voltaire with a lingering eeriness similar to XX Committee, Dome or Ike Yard at their most languid.” Also featured in the batch are the hallucinatory machinic rhythms of Microcorps and the “fun, camp, cool, art!” of H.M.A.S. RMA who present a midpoint between Robert Ashley, Holy Balm, and the Pet Shop Boys. A few other new releases and restocks that also arrived from Alter include (but are not limited to…) Chain Of Flowers, Basic House, Little Movies, Hieroglyphic Being, and Bass Clef.

Also from the UK… A couple of new headscratching tapes from Penultimate Press -the bathroom and chamber sounds of Barn Sour and the intriguing field recording soundscapes of Matthieu Fuentes. From Horn Of Plenty, a look into the archives of Italian cult musician Paul Chain with the prog meets occult rock vibe of ‘Paul Chain Is Dead’. And that’s not even mentioning the latest from New Haven avant-shredder Stefan Christensen on World Of Echo’s shop label, but more on that further below!

Lots of interesting new titles have also arrived from the Netherlands in the past month. Among them, some titles from Enabling Works who mostly deal in reissuing overlooked cult records. Perhaps most exciting for us was a reissue of Jim Shepard and Eric Svensnson’s collaboration as SnoOks, which Nic likened to “Twin Infinitives, Devo’s twisted take on muzak, or post-second Suicide record Martin Rev and Alan Vega.” Also from the label were reissues of a 1997 free-rocker from Loren Connors and a 1968 psych folk record from Randy Burns.

Locals, in your area

East coast lockdowns didn’t hold up an influx of new local material either! 

A new CD release from ambient/electronic artist Low Flung ‘The landscape has become a bed’ sees Danny in full blown immersive-ambient mode. Listening to this one loud reveals it not as some sort of deep listening exercise or ambient-beats-to-study-to music, but rather a bodily, immersive, yet intricately constructed album. 

Still getting my head around it, but a new box from Efficient Space showed up last week featuruing the new Australian cult-jazz reissue of Singing Dust’s self-titled album, as well as a the latest issue of the label’s annual Enthusiasmsmagazine, a new distro title of Estonian-Australian electronic music from Kiri-uu , and restocks of the fantastic Oz Waves and Oz Echoes comps. 

On the guitar music front.... Two new releases from Sydney’s most prolific punks Research Reactor Corp—a split 7” with the Spanish group Prison Affair and the ‘Live at Future Techlabs’ LP—catch the group in their fuzzed out, larynx-shredding, synth hookin’ glory. And a whole bunch of restocks from the Anti Fade catalogue (Civic, Parsnip, Bananagun, etc.) and distro titles including Nathan Roche’s ‘Drink Up, Rainforest Sinatra’ and Wet Blankets ‘Rise of Wet Blankets’

Lewsberg & The Dutch Underground

It seems as though a new scene of jangly guitar-pop music crops up every five years or so. It happened on the east coast of Oz a few years back with “dolewave” and its subsequent waves, it seems to be happening in San Francisco at the moment the lo-fi dreaminess of Cindy, Flowertown, Red Pinks and Purples, and co. and it seems to be taking place in Holland too. 

Since it arrived last year, the Rotterdam-based group Lewsberg’s ‘In This House’ has taken up a pretty regular rotation spot on the store turntable. At the time, Nic wrote that the group “immediately recall that signature Velvet Underground choogle, but have made this limited sound palette their own with a European sense of minimal efficiency,” and I’d probably add humour too (one note guitar solos, dry European speak-singing up the alley of VU’s “The Gift). But until now I haven’t really had the Dutch language chops or know-how to situate them within their contemporary scene/world.

A recent import from a few Dutch labels has given us some sort of insight into the world around the band. Lewsberg’s own in-band label, Soft Office (who did the Euro/UK run for Chronophage’s killer 2nd LP—see Nic’s Picks below) have just reissued the 2013 debut album from Dutch group The Avonden titled ‘God Is De Liefde’ rings of Loaded-era VU jangle and melodicism, even recalling the songwritery approach of acolytes like Jonathan Richman, The Feelies, or Silver Jews—a precursor to Lewsberg? Arie van Vliet from Lewsberg/Soft Focus refers to the album in the presser as “the best Dutch-sung album of the century” and I’m inclined to agree. Not because I know anything about the music scene in Holland, but because this album is a killer! One that (while I don’t speak/understand Dutch) seems to be at once literary but good humoured (in the vein of writers like Michael Farrell or musicians like David Berman, but can’t verify this because, y’know, the language barrier).

Hard (and stupid) to make any broad-brushstroke summations of some sort of Dutch or Rotterdam-based “scene” from the other side of the world, but it’s worth tracing a couple of others that are in and around this Soft Office crew. But the laid back VU-esque choogle stretches further! Lewsberg’s 2017 EP ‘The Downer’ features noise guitar solos and charmingly out of tune lead-lines. The most recent release we have in stock is from Rotterdam-based Dutch language group Kwartet Niek Hilkmann (who feature Arie van Vilet of Lewsberg), who are in the same vein but as Nic mentions bring to it a “youthful, Tyvek-ish post-punk energy.”

Not sure what “dolewave” translates to in Dutch, or what a fitting term would be… I’ll leave that for them to figure out. 

Nic’s Picks

Chronophage - Th’ Pig Kiss’d Album LP

Great to have this one back in stock, as it’s an incredibly singular LP from an art-rock /post-punk group whose appeal seems to cross into many segments of the global D-I-Y Underground. Chronophage reminds me of The Raincoats, Desperate Bicycles and Swell Maps, in the way in which they’ve developed a unique and forceful musical language out of a scrappy and outwardly amateur approach. Their open mindedness results in a humbly ambitious and highly expressive guitar pop. Sensational! 

Aymeric de Tapol - Lost In The Shell LP

Aymeric De Tapol possess a warm & natural feel to their rhythmic pop-compositions. I immediately feel at home with their sound, and yet I’m struggling to pull any comparisons out of my behind. I think it’s because they feel ‘of’ an approach, rather than a concrete sound. In particular the hooked-on-Harmonia, moving away from ‘noise‘, “weird-punk” adjacent world I encountered about 15 years ago. This could mean a Chooch-a-bahn show in Chippendale, Blues Control or a post-The Skaters project. Saying that, there’s no No Wave shronk or reclamation of New Age music here, prepare for plucky rhythms with oddly/expertly arranged synth/voice works on top.

Maxine Funke - Seance LP  

Mitch has dived deeper on this one, and I have to echo the praise! While I’ve enjoyed and appreciated all of The Funke Stuff (the two other LPs I’ve heard), she’s really carved out a truly  unique space on this one.  

C.I.A. Debutante – Pier 7”

C.I.A. Debutante – The Landlord LP

C.I.A. Debutante’s (aka Nathan Roche and Paul Bonnet) ripper The Pier 7” from earlier this year has their vinyl debut The Landlord (Siltbreeze, 2020) back on the high rotation pile. As I put it pre-pandemic: Sci-fi synth and tape murk with no-fidelity spoken word that warrants the press releases big comparison to Cabaret Voltaire and The Shadow Ring. There's echos of Sydney groups Half High and pre-doof Severed Heads, plus the melodic and rhythmic undertones of pioneering French pre-industrial-prog bands Ilitch and Heldon. Buy it now or fork out for the Vinyl-On-Demand box set in 30 years”. 

And special mention to the following, what I like to call

"Survival music parts 1, 2 and 3". 

Poison Idea - War All The Time LP

Pet Shop Boys - Very CD

Rabid Beast - Rabid Beast CD

Mitch's Pitches

The Avonden - God Is De Liefde

See my rambling above. Not just another VU tribute band, but something altogether exciting and intriguing!

Maxine Funke - Seance

An album that gets you straight in the chest! Latest by NZ singer-songwriter Maxine Funke is a slight detour from the minimal guitar and vocals approach of her previous albums like Lace and Felt, subtly fleshing the songs out with a meditative gently pulsing loop, a wavering synth, a few vocal overdubs, an acoustic bass. That’s not to say that Funke’s gone big studio production, there’s still the DIY home-fi recording vibe to this album, with these extras serving as a base to buoy her voice and (criminally underrated) guitar playing.

Stefan Christensen - Cheap Things

Open-ended (dare-I-say folky) acoustic guitar meditations from the New Haven mainstay that unfurl through layers of tape loops, sax parts, and unwieldy guitar feedback. Cheap Things weaves together a range of points from his prolific output, combining strains of folk, noise, psych rock, and post-punk that recalls the NZ underground, psych noise energy from Japan, or Neil Young-esque contemplations. The perfect intro to his body of work! 

David Nance - More Than Enough

Not a newby—it’s been spruiked in the shop for years—but wanted to give a special shoutout to Nance’s 2016 album which has been on constant rotation in my car the last few weeks as I go to pack/deliver orders. More abstract and open-ended than Nance’s latest offerings, but I’ve listened so many times now that I feel I know it back to front (except for when tracks begin and end…).

Stuck inside a FedEx Depo with the delivery blues again… 

After a pretty hectic month of new arrivals from Europe and the UK, we’ve been trying to balance things out with a Texas size USA import order but it’s all been sitting in the Enfield FedEx depo for about a week now. Every day we pray for that ‘onboard for delivery’ notification but alas. Testing times indeed, but here’s part of what to expect…

New releases from Flowertown, Cub Scout Bowling Pins, Alan Vega, Eight Point Star, Threshing Floor, Roy Montgomery, Megan Siebe, Crazy Doberman, Hawkbaby, Screaming Human Scum, Sonny And The Sunsets, Gee Tee, and Predator. Special heavy metal mention to Ænigmatum, Cerebral Rot, Anatomia, Mannveira, Vouna, Varathron and Edenic Past with more Blood Incantation, Evil, Tomb Mold and Iron Age as well! 

Reissues from Kleenex / Liliput, The Jacks, Raincoats, Spacemen 3, Peter J Cox, Sid Hemphill, Loop, Brigitte Fontaine, Herbie Hancock, Abrasive Wheels, and a couple incredible comps including the freshly-back-in-print Buried Country and The Four Stars (****) NZ punk collection.

Hopefully this is all up on the front page by the time you’re reading this!

Some things to look forward to... 

Orders on their way from Richie Records/Petty Bunco (including new Strapping Fieldhands), Feel It (including Sweeping Promises restock, newbies from Leopardo and Lysol), and Sophomore Lounge (restocks of State Champion and Warren Winters, along with new releases from Styrofoam Winos, Footings, Marc Riordan, and more). A new record from Brisbane’s Blue Chemise is out next month on Belgium’s B.A.A.D.M. records and provides us with an excellent excuse to check out label titles from artists such as Andrew Chalk & Timo Van Luijk, Mattias Gustafsson, Sewer Election and Opera Morte.