Archive for November, 2015

Noiseweek: EOY Lists, A Love Supreme, Arca, Fourteen Nights at Sea, Sunn O))) and more

Friday, November 27th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


The inevitable torrent of end-of-year lists begins in earnest, with Rough Trade first out of the blocks with their 100 best LPs of 2015. Bjork’s epic Blood on the Tracks break-up album Vulnicura took out the top spot, with Australian acts Courtney Barnett and Royal Headache both in the top ten at #3 and #8 respectively. British/German composer Max Richter’s eight-hour-long classical lullaby suite SLEEP surprisingly taking out fifth place, alongside more predictable fare like Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic and Jamie xx’s solo debut In Colour all among the top ten. Keep a look out for LIFE IS NOISE’s end of year lists in the next few weeks.


Good news for a number of Melbourne’s favourite venues this week with the state government giving out $250,000 in soundproofing grants, with Cherry, Ding Dong, 1000 Pound Bend, Revolver, Bakehouse Studios and the Bendigo Hotel all sharing the spoils for soundproofing works undertaken between 2010 and 2014, The Age reports. The grants are being welcomed as another step in protecting and nurturing the city’s vibrant live music scene after the enactment of last year’s ‘Agent of Change’ principle in planning regulations, which shifts the expense of soundproofing works on to new developments where a dispute arises, rather than existing venues. In other words: we were here first, you deal with it.


Synth nerds frothing over the collection of vintage analogue gear amassed by the newly established Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (M.E.S.S.) will soon get their chance to tinker with one of the largest and most comprehensive catalogues of modular synths, drum machines, samplers and other rare and obscure instruments, with M.E.S.S. opening to subscribers in early 2016. Established by local sound artists Robin Fox and Byron J Scullin, M.E.S.S. will offer 500 spots in its inaugural annual subscription program, with plans for training courses, workshops and live performances later in the year.


Arca’s Warped Beauty | Pitchfork

“Even more than Xen, which Ghersi now calls a “fragile” album, Mutant is made up of great extremes—the crushing bass of “Mutant” versus the viscous bliss of “Vanity”, or the metal chug of “Anger” versus the neo-classical strings of “Extent”. And one of the things that is so exhilarating about the record is how it’s constantly negotiating between two opposing poles. Tension is the air that Mutant breathes, and that is because Ghersi himself thrives on what he calls “those in-between states where you can talk to people about things that maybe aren’t OK to talk about otherwise—things that are taboo or repressed within us, things that we would never admit to ourselves.””

Seeing Through “A Love Supreme” to Find John Coltrane | New Yorker

“In the studio, there’s an undertone of serenity and also of composition that emphasizes the movement’s themes, of compression that builds the climaxes of a solo into repeated motto-like phrases or quick outbursts that soon resolve into calmer and more songful perorations. By contrast, the 1965 concert performance from France is full-throated, uninhibited, frighteningly wild and frenzied. It leaves a listener thrilled, shaken, drained; it’s a holy terror and a holy wonder.”

A Rational Conversation: How Do You Convince Kids To Listen To Vinyl? | NPR: The Record

“Our commitment or continued long-term participation to putting out vinyl records is largely based on our own emotional connection. Many of us who have been here for a while came of age listening to records even before the resurgence of vinyl that has happened over the course of the past five or six years. I talk to a lot of people I work with about this, but vinyl is freighted with this memory of the way you would listen to music. It’s less about what people talk about with the warmth or audio qualities of vinyl. It’s just about attention. If you can only fit 22 minutes of music of a side of vinyl, you’re doing little else during that time, and that’s kind of nice. So it’s definitely an emotional connection.”


Fourteen Nights at Sea — Minor Light

Get acquainted with the Melbourne post-rock mainstays’ latest release ahead of their shows supporting MONO in Melbourne and Sydney next week.

Roundtable — Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia

Yet another solid release recorded and mixed by Jason Fuller at Melbourne’s Goatsound studios, the trio’s debut full-length mines doom, stoner and classic prog and offers a contemporary take on the lost art of the narrative concept album.


Sunn O))) — Boiler Room

Club kids the world over are scratching their heads as to what the fuck just happened, with last week’s Berlin set from Sunn O))) featuring on the hugely popular Boiler Room channel. There’s form there – they’ve featured Earth and Boris previously, though for the most part it’s about pretty young things dancing behind (read: annoying the crap out of) superstar DJs.

David Bowie — Blackstar

For those who’ve been in a coma for the last week: The first single and title track from the ageing iconoclast’s forthcoming LP shows he’s still capable of the reinvention that’s defined his long and storied career. Apparently he’s been listening to lots of Kendrick Lamar and Death Grips, though long-time collaborator/producer Tony Visconti says it’s not going to be a hip hop record (in case you were worried).

Anger Management: Gama Bomb

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

Irish thrash maniacs Gama Bomb return with their fifth album, Untouchable Glory, following on from 2013’s excellent The Terror Tapes, Untouchable Glory. The band bulldoze through twelve tracks of glorious thrash metal, never losing a step, oozing with enthusiasm and joy.

Whilst some of their contemporaries in the new wave of thrash (led by Municipal Waste) seem to have fallen by the wayside ortaken a break (Bonded By Blood and Municipal Waste haven’t released anything since 2012, Havok and Fueled By Fire haven’t had a release since 2013), Gama Bomb keep on doing what they do best: rising to the top.

Untouchable Glory takes the sound from The Terror Tapes and adds a few slight tweaks here and there. Vocalist Philly Byrne’s unique vocal style is in fine form, a dash of Blitz/Overkill mixed with a splash of Paul Baloff and, oddly, I’m also reminded of Ludichrist/Scatterbrain vocalist Tommy Christ. But it’s more as if Scattebrain worshiped Nuclear Assault instead of Van Halen.

The album has some excellent shredding guitar leads and drummer Paul Caffrey puts in a phenomenal performance, with tracks such as “Tuck Your T-Shirt In” and “Ride The Night” really shining through.

Those bemoaning a lack of variety are clearly not paying attention as there’s a wealthof sounds here. Some songs such as the aforementioned “Tuck..” and “She Thing“‘ ratchet up the speed in a Nuclear Assault/S.O.D style whilst “My Evil Eye“and “Ride The Night” are a bit slower/catchier and could both easily be used as singles.

The band clearly are having a blast and have sense of humour about them, but musically they are no joke. Gama Bomb aren’t about to go Metallica ’96. Pick up Untouchable Glory and wreck your neck!

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

Two Minutes With Serious Beak

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Ahead of opening for MONO at Newtown Social Club on December 7, we spend a couple of minutes with Serious Beak and chew the fat…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Lachlan: Death-defying psychedelic prog.
Tim: More riffs, less talk.
Gene: Dumb dada, da dada dada dar.
Andrew: SuperBirdGrindProg

What’s going on in the world of Serious Beak?
Lachlan: It’s taken us four years, but we’ve just released our new album Ankaa, which we are all super stoked on. To celebrate, we’re going on tour with Perth’s amazing Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving.
Gene: Then we will yet again venture into the cave of truth and ask the spirit crystals for help.

What motivates you to make music?
Tim: To hear music the way that we want to hear it.
Gene: Purely selfish reasons.
Andrew: An unknown force, be it spirit or genetics, I must!
Lachlan: Catharsis.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Tim: Highs, surviving this long as a band whilst playing some amazing shows with some incredible bands.
Gene: Highs, 2013’s massive Australian tour with Battle Pope. Lows, when this band breaks up.
Andrew: Highs: being asked to join Serious Beak, playing amazing, packed shows with past & present bands. Lows: how long it takes Beak to write material.
Lachlan: It’s been amazing to support rad bands like Deafheaven and Neurosis. Lows? Well, it’s never fun playing a bad gig.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Lachlan: New tunes from Joanna Newsom, Earl Sweatshirt, Instrumental (adj.), Hope Drone and Sufjan Stevens.
Tim: Kowloon Walled City, Majora, Instrumental (adj.), a digital station called ‘Pure 90’s’ and whatever my 2 yr old daughter wants to listen to, which at the moment is Jimi Hendrix.
Gene: Cardiacs and Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, but mainly movie soundtracks and musicals.
Andrew: I’ve been going back to some of my high-school era jams; re-discovering Pantera and Primus and how awesome they were/are, Enslaved’s last two albums, Instrumental (adj.), Kurushimi as well as Bernard Herrmann’s scores.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first? And why?

Lachlan: Tim, because there are only so many Dad jokes and references to ‘80s pop that one can handle.
Gene: Lachlan, surely we would each find a corner of the island and start our own solo project.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Tim: Our federal government’s lack of commitment to actually preparing our country, and our planet, for the future in which my kids and thousands of generations afterwards have to live in. Carl Sagan’s ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ should be read out at the start of each sitting of Parliament, just to give each member a sense of perspective and quell the feelings of self importance, so that we can move on from what divides up and realise that we, as a species, can achieve so much if we all work together.
Lachlan: As ever, people seem all too eager to abuse and exploit our fellow humans.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Gene: My place with no other punters with 4’33? being blasted on a loop.

Serious Beak support MONO at the Newtown Social Club in Sydney on Monday, December 7. Tickets are on sale now through

Interview: MONO

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

MONO are about extremes. Loud and quiet, comforting and crushing, uplifting and heartwrenching — the Japanese quartet have built a career on polarities. On their most recent releases — the companion albums The Last Down and Rays of Darkness — MONO fully realize the duality of their sound, from gentle piano melodies of “Kanata” to the post-hardcore flurry of “The Hand that Holds the Truth”. Before their upcoming Australian & New Zealand tour, MONO guitarist Taka discusses the band’s orchestral roots, their sonic polarities and channelling the sound of Japan.

You released Last Days / Rays of Darkness over year ago now. After playing that material for the last 12 months, how has your relationship with the songs changed?

It worked a lot, especially “Recoil, Ignite”, “Where We Begin”, “Kanata” etc. They made wider worlds and also made our new visions.

Those two records are companion albums – The Last Dawn is more akin to your uplifting orchestral work, and Rays of Darkness explores dark and somber territory. MONO’s music has always been about contrast. What draws you to that idea of duality in music?

The main human emotions are divided into positivity and negativity, and let’s say that they’re both 50/50 to begin with. If we have even 1% more positive emotions, everything will start to lead towards the light. To simply put, for The Last Dawn, in a minimalist approach, I wanted to express that regardless of your current situations or emotions, if you accept everything as it is and find more positivity, you will eventually be able to overcome all the negativity.

On the other hand for Rays of Darkness, I wanted to express that if you have even 1% more negative emotions or thoughts, the chaos will eventually spread and drag you down to darkness without you noticing about it. I just started to think that even everything is in disorder; there is something that’s always in order. I really wanted to express that to the world as art.

The two albums ended up representing the counter points in life. Light and darkness, hope and hopelessness, love and loss, the emotions which can’t be expressed, pain which you can’t put into words, happiness which you can’t simply measure. We also at the same time felt and hoped that they could be something to exceed the darkness.

Unlike your previous work, Rays of Darkness featured no orchestral compositions. What inspired that decision? Was it a challenge to yourself to see how you could write with just guitars, bass and drums?

I originally wanted to create something original, symphonic and spiritual like Beethoven but with electric guitars. So far, we managed to experience so many things, more than any indie band can ask for, like playing with full orchestras in New York, London, Australia and Tokyo. From these experiences, we tried something more complex and classical for our previous album, For My Parents, but at the same time, we started to raise some concerns. During the album’s American tour, we started to feel as though our sounds were like a spineless dinosaur comparing to our old sounds. Sure, symphonic music is loud, epic and dreamy, but there is something lacking compare to rock music, like the pressure and destruction they can bring.

We originally started off as a four-piece, and even though our concerns started to rise much earlier, we just took them as a required risk to challenge something new. But as we toured more, we started to know for certain that our feelings were right.

Going back to the original root was an easy thing to do, but also, we all didn’t want to do what we have already done. I really thought about this a lot. I needed to find a new method that could show my current emotions, and I truly believed that will allow us to see a new world.

Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy provides vocals on “The Hand that Holds the Truth” on Rays of Darkness. How did your relationship with him come about, and what led to that collaboration?

Personally for a long time, I always wanted to collaborate with Tetsu. He’s been a good of friend of ours for so long so I’m really glad it became a reality. Even during the time I was writing the song, I could clearly hear how his vocals would fit in together. When we actually collaborated, I didn’t really give him any instructions but he already knew what I was hoping to achieve. The song turned out to be such an incredible piece and we’re all very proud of it.

A lot of the Japanese musicians who gain attention around the rest of the world work with extremes – Merzbow with noise, Boris with their mix of sludge/slude/doom/noise/metal, MONO with cinematic and emotional post-rock. Why do you think those sensibilities resonate so strongly with audiences all over the world? What draws you to personally to that type of music?

I don’t know about other bands (we have good relationship with Boris though) but Japanese music scene is very conservative, and it won’t be changed forever, it makes us feel very uncomfortable. We have to trust own music and own art, probably this mind is making much stronger music.

I really love the dramatic, spiritual, cinematic and emotional music like Beethoven and Ennio Morricone especially. If I were to borrow Beethoven’s words, I think music is something that ignites fire in men’s heart and bring tears to women’s eyes. (And of course, vice versa). Every individual reflects their own life through music like spiritual travels, like every cell in your body getting triggered unconsciously. After experiencing fantastic movies, books or art, there is a power that allows you to see and feel new values of your life which you didn’t really notice. We really hope we can create the same kind of experience to people.

Those bands talk a lot about the influence Japan’s cityscapes and environment of Japan on their music. For Boris, their music channels a way of channeling the chaos of Tokyo and its surrounds, but MONO have never been about chaos. How have those surrounds inspired MONO’s song writing process?

We were seeking a sound that’s original and unique, not something that has already been done or try to copy them for that matter. We felt that we should create something that’s like a language globally accepted over countries, history and cultures. I think music is a very special gift given to us to tell a story or show something that you can’t simply describe with words. Sure, it might sound arrogant but as a composer, I write music that would save me, and also allows me to think and look for the meaning of life. And from that, I also hope to give the strength to continue and live to other people in the world.

You’re more than 15 years and 8 studio albums into your life as a band. What’s next for MONO?

We have a plan to record and release new album on next year.

MONO play Australia & New Zealand on the following dates:

Perth — Rosemount Hotel — December 4
Melbourne — Corner Hotel — December 5
Sydney — Newtown Social Club — December 6
Sydney — Newtown Social Club — December 7
Brisbane — Woolly Mammoth — December 8
Auckland — Kings Arms — December 10 — Presented with Under The Radar

Tickets on sale now from, Oztix, (NZ only) and venue outlets.

Two Minutes With Mothra

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Ahead of their opening spot for MONO at King’s Arms on December 10, we spend a couple of minutes with Mothra and find out what’s up…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Ambient, intense, sludgey, progressive, cathartic.

What’s going on in the world of Mothra?
We are releasing our debut album Decision Process in the very near future, and we’ve just released a 7? single and video from it for a track called “Splinters”. We are stoked to be opening for Mono, then it’s time to do some touring and start recording the next album. There’s so much new material we can’t keep track.

What motivates you to make music?
Life, boredom, inspiration from other artists, the need for pure expression.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Highs: opening for some of our favourite bands such as the Dillinger Escape Plan, Helmet, Russian Circles, Earth, and Jakob, and finally finishing our debut album. Lows: Almost disbanding a few years back, nothing much happened for about a year.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Neurosis, Shellac, Slint, Dillinger, Sumac, Mono, Mamiffer, the Cinematic Orchestra, Massive Attack.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first? And why?
Reuben or Hugh, not James because he is vegan and possibly tasteless to a wild animal.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Getting repeated parking tickets outside my own house for being too close to a bus stop sign that hasn’t been in use for 10 years, and then listening to the council trying to justify it.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring New Zealand artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Re-open the Transmission Room in Auckland, on the bill we might have Straightjacket Fits, Semi Lemon Kola, Militia, the 3Ds, Nothing at All, Balance, the Gordons, Bailterspace, HDU, Lord of Tigers, New Way Home, and Shihad (if they play Churn.) Flight of the Conchords and Billy T. James could do comedy in between sets.

Two Minutes With Tangents

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Ahead of their opening spot for MONO at Newtown Social Club on Sunday, December 6, we spend a couple of minutes with Peter Hollo, Adrian Lim-Klumpes and Ollie Bown from Tangents

Describe your music in five words or less.
Peter: post-everything improv

What’s going on in the world of Tangents?
Adrian: We completed our second album not so long ago and have just signed it with an exciting label from the US.
So right now it’s getting promo stuff on the ball and lining up some gigs, plus improving our set with some new ways of working.

What motivates you to make music?
Ollie: Exploration. I’ve only ever really been interested in making music that involves other people in some way. I love remixing. This is by far the most stimulating band I’ve been in; a real diversity of styles and characters that keeps pushing me to ask what we can do next. I also need all the stars to be aligned to enjoy making music. Quite often I hate it.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Adrian: A high point for me is working with Evan.
He and I have similar histories in jazz improv, electronics, rock and so on. So when we play together I find its more than music. The groove and flow of thinking, creating and anticipating together is quite unique. Add the beautiful colours and energies of the other three tangents and performing with this mob is really special.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Peter: I can only speak for myself, and I’m drowning in music as ever. I discovered a Chinese stalwart in Beijing recently, Dou Wei, whose music ranges from hard rock beginnings though post-punk and postrock influences to ambient and downtempo, experimental improvisations with traditional Chinese instruments, and an incredible recent 45-minute psych-metal freakout.
Some other randoms: Julia Holter, Punch Brothers, Björk, Old Man Gloom, Jenny Hval, Akkord, Vampillia… the list goes on…

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first? And why?
Ollie: I reckon we could whip up a pretty good Foie Gras with Peter. He doesn’t drink and smoke so his liver should be in good shape. Problem would be what to eat it on. The cello would make for a crap crispbread.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Peter: It’s really important to bitch (there’s that word…) about the less-than-adequate position and experiences of women and LGBTQIA+ people in the music industry (and our society)… something which Evelyn Pikelet et al’s LISTEN project is providing a fantastic forum for.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Adrian: Well, I love a piano.
How about Chris Abrahams, Eric Griswold, Novak Manojlovic, Alister Spence and Paul Grabowsky
An assortment of small group improvs, followed by Steve Reich’s music for 6 pianos, finish with an extended 6 piano improv .
Someone write the grant application, get some sponsors and make it happen!

Tangents support MONO at the Newtown Social Club in Sydney on Sunday December 6. Tickets are on sale now through

Anger Management: Silent Knight

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

This writer can never understand the knock that some people have on the more melodic/power metal genre, that its cheesy and cliche. Every genre of music is cheesy and full of clichés, from the most brutal death metal to gangster rap.

Done well, power metal can be invigorating and uplifting to listen to. Bands like Hammerfall and Dragonforce got big for a reason: they had the chops (especially the maniacs in Dragonforce), and while they had a sense of humour about them, they were all seriously talented and made some great music that didn’t take the audience for granted. (Having a track in an extremely popular game like Guitar Hero also didn’t hurt.)

Yet it must be said that for power metal to be not just good but great, all members of the band must be firing on all cylinders. If one piece doesn’t deliver, the whole band suffers.

Perth’s Silent Knight have created an excellent batch of songs on their second album, Conquer & Command, that has all members firing at full capacity. New vocalist Jesse Onur Oz slots in perfectly and delivers quite the performance, the band backing him up with harmonies from time to time. Tours in Indonesia and Australia-wide with Helloween have really forced the band to step up their game and it shows with some fantastic twin guitar shredding on tracks such as “The Strike Of The Sword” and “The Ravens Return”.

All the tracks here are pretty great and they thankfully don’t try to pull any kind of power balladry. The guys are firmly on the metal side of things here. The production is pretty good and every instrument is loud and clear, however there are a few times when the guitars occasionally sound a touch sterile. It seems like a few tracks might have been recorded in a different session, but it doesn’t take too much away from the album in the end.

The album ends with the one-two punch of ‘Power Metal Supreme’ (a track that is a love letter to the genre and a ripping cover of ‘The Final Countdown’. Great stuff from a genre that gets zero coverage in Australia.

Command & Conquer is available now.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

Sounds Like Hell: Have a Nice Life

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

As New York’s costs of living rose in the late 80s and gentrification swept through the one-time punk strongholds of Greenwich Village and its surrounds, the exodus drive punk kids north. Connecticut – a longtime option for New York exiles – became punk and hardcore’s new east coast stomping grounds. Plenty of bands stuck with the guitar-drums-vocals-aggression formula, but new generations took cues from emotional hardcore and post-punk, finding room for experimentation in synths, effects and slowing down the metronome.

Have a Nice Life might have their roots in Connecticut’s hardcore history, but that influence is filtered through a synth-infused existential dread that owes more to Joy Division than Black Flag. On their 2008 debut Deathconsciousness – recently reissued by venerable San Francisco label The Flenser – HANL are at once full of hope and utterly hopeless. “Music Will Untune The Sky” recalls the uplifting neo-folk of Akron/Family, but it’s followed by “Cropsey”, an unsettling sample of a reporter’s discussion with a child at a mental facility that explodes into a rapid-fire assault of hammering synthetic percussion and vocalist Dan Barrett’s anguished utterances.

There’s this persistent sense of drowning across these two records – reverb is so overused that it completely destroys any sense of space or acoustics. Album closer “Emptiness Will Eat The Witch” is the closest thing minimalism on the whole record, but it’s one of the most emotionally loaded tracks I’ve ever heard – the short piano riff gives way to layers upon layers of vocal howls, to the point of complete devastation. It’s an ugly and depressing but painfully beautiful way to close an emotional gut-punch of an album.