Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Festival Of Tired Ideas: Fuck The Big Day Out

Fuck The Big Day Out.

Seriously ever year it gets worse and even if this years line-up is one of the strongest in recent memory, most of the acts have played before, a lot of them very recently. One of the major problems with the festival is that no matter how good some of the bands are there is always more shit than quality. There is always some point in the day where there is nothing good on, and you're left to pick through the refuse of what's been put on the side stages (or god forbid watch Birds Of Tokyo), when there are so many quality local acts who would kill to be on the bill and who would deliver much more interesting material. I mean sure Bridezilla played Lilyworld a few years ago, but that local produce stage they have is usually fucking rubbish.

What quality there is is then usually ruined by poor sound or drowned out by a sea of fuckwits more concerned about 'getting their mosh on' than anything else. Bjork being booed off stage in 2008 pretty much sums it up.

While this year's line up is a vast improvement on last years yawn-fest with Grinderman, Die Antwoord and Primal Scream breathing some life into the festival, for the most part the line-up is a case of leftovers from past line-ups. Sure Rammstein and Iggy & The Stooges are great leftovers, leftovers I would eat out of a dog bowl using a used cricket cup as a utensil and leftovers I am thankful to have a chance to taste having missed them in previous years, but they are rare birds next to pigeons like Lupe Fiasco who was out here only a few months ago for Playground Weekender, while Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 were also here not too long ago. And Tool as headliners again, I'm sorry but repeating a headliner that quickly can only amount to laziness. This is a festival of tired ideas.

Add to this LCD Soundsystem, Booka Shade and CSS, and The Big Day Out seems like a refuge for every band out there that are whoring themselves on the festival scene. I mean who gives a shit about Booka Shade, they've played here so often they may as well get Southern Cross tattoos. Why aren't we seeing more headliners like Neil Young, something that challenges the increasingly Channel V appearance of the festival.

Meanwhile people are buying more and more tickets each year despite the line-ups growing staler, everyone caught up in the experience of The Big Day Out, an expereince which realistically amounts to not much more than getting sunburned while waiting in long lines for overprices beer after almost dieing in an oven of a train car and having to run the gauntlet of sniffer dogs only to watch a series of bands you've probably seen before play mediocre sets with poor sound while a frothing horde of mindless drunks drown out the band as they holler at the stage as if they're part of some twisted pagan ritual. Really that's all the Big Day Out has become, it's a ritual for those people who's lives are so empty they have turned to worshiping musicians rather than Jesus.

Whenever I go, I feel afraid of what might happen considering the amount of aggression and lack of responsibility exhibited by most of the punters. There is a palpable sense of danger and blood-lust in that crowd, everyone so eager to get to the front to see some band, which will somehow give their life more meaning. It's idol worship in it's most frightening form. Even Hillsong pales in comparison, no ones ever been crushed to death at one of their services.

However I think it is this very cult like nature of the festival that makes is so popular. People go to let go of social inhibitions and release their inner animal, to essentially act like adolescents again. No matter what piss-poor line-up they throw at us we seem to lap it up like a starved cat does vomit, because we are so eager for an excuse to escape our pointless and soul crushing lives of tedium and mediocrity. The musicians serve as Dionysian priests, presiding over this primitive celebration of intoxication and conformity.

Now I believe letting go of social inhibitions every now and again is a very good thing, but The Big Day Out seems to bring out a darker and more aggressive side than is healthy, while at the same time inundating these empty vessels with the talismans of commercial culture. Rather than channeling people's need for release into such mass marketed and mass produced avenue, which favours giving money to big name international acts over supporting up coming local talent (unless you play one of those joke Unearthed slots to no one at 11am on some V branded side stage), the promoters would do well to find a way to promote a calmer and less aggressive atmosphere, as well as focusing on delivering a better live experience, better sound, better lighting, a broader range of bands on offer. To bring it back to the music rather than the ritual.

"But where are they supposed to get the money" I hear you say? The backstage area. Having been backstage on numerous occasions over the years I can tel you that a lot of money goes into keeping the artists happy. Not only does each band have their own air conditioned trailer, rider and ridiculous demands (for instance lat year Lily Allen had a beach made of sand, a palm or two and a kiddie pool constructed in front of her trailer, even though she spent almost no time there), but they also have a games section, a swimming pool, a free Tiki Bar, an open buffet with fresh seafood, multiple jumping castles and even fucking dodgem cars. Considering how much pay for your ticket you might expect some of this decadence to be swung your way, but alas all the punters are usually left with is Lilyworld, which is getting more and more pathetic with each year.

But who cares, the punters keep coming anyway. The music seems almost secondary, the bands serving as bait to get the wild animals into the cage to spend all their cash on alcohol, cheap merchandise and terrible food. You can't really blame the promoters though, they're just businessmen out to make a buck, no more. We should demand more from them, we should choose to patronise other festivals like All Tomorrow Parties or Days Like This that go out of their way to offer a mixture of big name headliners and quality lesser known acts, but we don't. The truth is, as a culture, we want the cheap thrill. We want the porn star over the homegrown beauty. We want the fast food over the well cooked steak. We like going to the supermarket rather than the farmers market because it's easy, and even if we're getting ripped off for sub par products we don't care. That's what Big Day Out has become, a fucking musical supermarket.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: How Mystikal Became A Registered Sex Offender

Lot's of rappers talk shit about being gangsta, but few really follow through with their claims.

Mystikal on the other hand keeps shit well real, choosing to rape a woman, even though with his money and success one would assume he could either pay for it or at least get a groupie to service his needs.

Read on for an account on how keeping it real went oh so wrong for him.

Quoted from Wikipedia

"On June 26, 2003,[1] Michael "Mystikal" Tyler pleaded guilty to sexual battery and extortion. On January 15, 2004, Tyler was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to forcing his hairstylist to perform sex acts. He also admitted to extortion. The rapper and two bodyguards forced the woman to perform oral sex, have sex with them, and accused her of stealing $80,000 in cheques. Tyler initially held firm that the incident was consensual. A videotape of the incident was found at his home shortly after the charges were initially made. Negotiations during the trial held the videotape from being entered as evidence and Tyler agreed to the plea bargain offered by the prosecution, avoiding the mandatory life sentence for sexual assault in Louisiana and expecting to receive probation. The case took a twist when the judge viewed the videotape at the sentencing, took into account Tyler's two prior arrests (for drug and gun possession) and had him remanded into custody to begin serving a six-year sentence immediately. Bodyguards Leland "Pokie" Ellis and Vercy "V" Carter also pleaded guilty to sexual battery.[2]

In August 2005, while incarcerated on the state sexual battery and extortion charges, Mystikal was charged federally with two misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns for 1998 and 1999. On January 12, 2006, he was convicted in federal court of the tax offenses, but was allowed to serve the one-year federal sentence concurrent with his six-year state sentence.[6]

Mystikal was incarcerated at Louisiana's Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. On January 19, 2006, Mystikal was denied parole at a parole board hearing.[7]

On January 11, 2007, Mystikal was released from custody on the federal misdemeanor tax convictions (as his one-year sentence had expired), but he remained in custody on the six-year sentence for the Louisiana state felony convictions. The news of his release caused confusion among fans who heard the news and mistakenly thought he had been released on parole.[8]

He was released January 14, 2010.[9] After his release Mystikal said:
“ I was gone so long, all the things I achieved, all the accolades I attained, it felt like it was a dream. It felt like I'd never done that stuff. But watch how I shake this world up now — I want reparations.[9] ”

After his release, Mystikal registered as a sex offender."

Circle Jerk : Why The ARIA Charts Are Fucking Meaningless

I heard today that Denis Handlin, Chairman & CEO, Sony Music Entertainment Australia & New Zealand and a man responsible for clogging this nation's airwaves with meaningless bullshit for two decades now (who I will begrudgingly admit also does donate a lot to charity), has been elected as Chairman of ARIA. This seems fitting that a man who has profited off irrelevant and mostly terrible music be chosen to head such an obsolete organisation.

Before I go on to discuss the inherently corrupt and conflicted framework of ARIA, let me say a few words about Mr Handlin, (other than the fact that if you change the first letter of his name to 'P' you get a pretty good illustration of his role in the Australian music industry.) This is the man who brought us Men At Work, Midnight Oil, Daryl Braithwaite, Silverchair, Delta Goodrem, Tina Arena, Human Nature, Pete Murray, Rogue Traders, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingthwaighte, and while this should be enough to have him hung drawn and quartered for subjecting us to such insidious sonic torture, he was actually awarded the title of Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his “service to the music industry, particularly through the promotion of Australian musicians, to professional organisations, and to the community through fundraising for charitable organisations.”

Now I want to be fair, he has done a lot of charitable work, but recognise him for that, he has done nothing to further Australian music, if anything he has popularised the idea that we are a) a bunch of listless bogans or mildly articulate cry babies, or b) completely lacking in any original identity and have to pathetically imitate the worst bullshit that filters down for the US. It's a well known fact in the industry that under his guidance, Sony Music hasn't been able to sell an artist to Sony US in years, while bands like The Drones, Bridezilla, PVT and The Dirty Three have to go overseas to get a decent record deal. Admittedly this is probably for the best as I would never wish that these artists sign to Sony, but so far as promoting Australian music, Handlin has done this nation's a massive disservice by promoting musicians who can only be popular domestically because of their lack of originality or innovation making them seem stale as part of a global scene, with their domestic success mainly facilitated the iron grip the majors have over the music media here.

Which brings me to my main point. The record labels control the ARIA Charts. Apart from the fact that a lot of the people who make up ARIA are from record labels, the way the chart works is by tracking distribution not record sales. This means that if a record label wants to give the impression one of their shit eating pop stars is wildly popular they can flood the retail market with copies, the album being awarded Gold or Platinum Status regardless of whether 99% of them were returned to the record label. This is also how the ARIA Awards are determined for the most part.

In an era where most people get their music from sources outside the traditional retail industry, ARIA is completely irrelevant and essentially no more than a tool the music industry use give each other self serving praise and to promote their vacant wares, eclipsing what little exposure genuine artists can achieve. It's a big shiny blindfold they wrap around your eyes before gang raping you like the inbred hicks they are. So the next time you see some pointless pop star receiving an ARIA award remember that is was bought and paid for by some bloated industry cunt high on their own sense of self importance and corrupt influence.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rock Stars Have Killed The Music Industry

I was at a show last week and I ran into one of those lamentable excuses for music journalists, or even human beings, that most people know as Channel V presenters. This guy was a real fuckwit. I can't remember what boring and bland conversation led us to discussing The Rolling Stones, but when we got to that point I informed him calmly that they were not only one of the most irrelevant bands to ever walk the earth, but they are also nothing more than a bunch of white English kids who got rich and famous while the black musicians they stole all their ideas from suffered in relative obscurity and objective poverty.

He went on to dismiss this claim, offering a series of stories that ran along the lines, "so 'member x' was real fucked up and 'committed selfish and ego driven act,' I mean how rock is that?" Not once did he mention their music, understandably considering how fucking un-inventive it all is and how seemingly uneducated he was, but for him the reason why The Stones are such important figures in the history of music is that they were a bunch of drunk and drug fucked assholes who treated the rest of the world like they owed them something.

I disengaged myself from this scruffy haired waste of life that would have been better placed as a period or miscarriage but I couldn't help shake the notion that it's this very attitude that has ruined the music industry.

Back when being a musician was more blue collar, when being in a band meant a life of constant touring, struggling to get by and a general lack of recognition most musicians went into the business not expecting to be paid large amounts of money to act like a bunch of fuckwits, but instead to be paid a modest amount of money for the chance to express themselves and to pursue their love of music.

Nowadays though every side fringe wearing douche bag, or Television t-shirt sporting cunt wants to be a musician, and the few of them that do end up forming bands of any note feel they somehow all deserve to be rock stars.

What this has set up is a dangerous precedent where the mythology of rock and roll is valued more than the actual craft of music, where as long as you fit the right template and have all the right talismans people with often consider you a musician. Circle Pit, case in point. I mean how often to you see people with a Debussy or Mozart poster on their wall? The truly great figures in the history of music have been pushed into obscurity in favour of facile totems of fashion and trends who strut upon the stage like peacocks desperate to be fucked because it's not seen as cool and because we as a people no longer have the education to understand the craft and theory of music. This ignorance is what has led to the rampant proliferation of crap, as well as generally robbing music of any value because we no longer posses the skills with which to evaluate it's worth, with music essentially becoming homogenous in it's lack of meaning or relevance. Each band is a product no different to the next other than how's it's packaged and how it's marketed. Kisschassy or Birds Of Tokyo? Coke or Pepsi?

There are of course exception to this, bands who have wandered out of the barren wastelend that is the trend driven world of popular music into the shining citadel of true artistic expression, but nevertheless this rampant commodification of music has saturated the market to the point where for the most part people music no longer really matters to anyone.

'Oh I love music, it's my life!' you might say. But think about it, when was the last time you put on a record and listened to it without doing anything else? Music today is often becoming background noise to other activities, more often than not listened to on an iPod as we travel between whatever meaningless tasks occupy our bland and dreary lives.

To the younger generations the music video has surpassed the CD as the dominant medium, just as Television superseded radio, with image and the mythology a band erects around themselves serving to form the foundation of their appeal much more so than their music does.

Now image has been a factor ever since the days of Elvis and even before that with artists like Mozart or Wagner, but nowadays it seems to eclipse almost everything else. No cares what these artists have to say, which in a lot of cases is a good thing as they really have nothing to say that is of any importance. Look at a band like Animal Collective for instance, can you think of one meaningful sentiment expressed in their songs other than 'go out and buy a sampler.'They trade off an image of being out there creatives, their recent moving into film a fitting direction to take their pointlessly fashionable music in.

Music, and by music I mean notes on a page no longer matters to the large part of the populace, and it's no wonder the record industry has taken so long to collapse in on itself. You can blame downloading and the rise of dance music and hip hop as much you want, but it's this obsession with rock stardom that has done it. The idea that an industry can be maintained by rampant ego worship, devoid of any real cause or feeling has led to this current ambivalence as people can no longer hear the music for all the bullshit noise going on around them.

The music industry died when Elvis first swiveled his hips. He is the archetype that led to Lady Gaga, stealing the music of others and wrapping it up in a sexy little bow, and it is those of us who worshiped such false idols that led to heart, soul and meaning of music being ripped out of it by the hands of this adolescent urge toward hedonism, and even that model has collapsed as people have tired of idolising rock stars and now just try to live like them, living vacuous lives and appearing as sad parodies of the equally vacant stars they look to as gods.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Old Men Of Moss Mountain


Let's face it, by and large Aussie hip hop is pretty fucking shit. The so called leaders of the genre Hilltop Hoods and Bliss N Eso's music amounts to nothing much other than mediocrity, the music lacking any real sense of relevance, and it usually being rather fucking tasteless. The Herd and Urthboy go all political with the raps, but still who fucking cares, nothing their saying is exactly shocking, it's usually just a regurgitated Greens manifesto, rapped with little flair over a generic beat stolen from 90s US hip hop.

Looking at the fans of the genre, the sort of hoody sporting cretins you'd expect to see hanging out in shopping malls or watching rugby league over a schooner or carlton in some horribly refitted RSL, it's no wonder why the genre has become such a boring and stale form of expression, but then again look at Australia in general and you could say the music's lack of innovation, excitement or meaningful contributions to 21st Century society is really a reflection of it's context.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, most notably in my mind bands like True Vibenation, or Diafrix who manage to at least do it with style, avoiding the sort of colonial clumsiness of most of their contemporaries. Also I have to say that listening to The Tongue's most recent album, Alternative Energy has given me a small feeling of hope that the genre might actually develop some taste (mind you even this album falls into the trap of cheesy choruses and poorly thought out lyricism), but still we don't seem to have any artists in this country really pushing the boundaries of what Australian hip hop could be. That is no one other than Old Men Of Moss Mountain.

In the same way that artists like PVT, Seekae, Ghoul and Danimals, have found ways to innovate within their genre, producing work of a truly international quality,doing so with an accomplished sense of professionalism and maturity lacking in many of the contemporaries, so too have Old Men Of Moss Mountain found a way of to offer something that is different compared to artists all over the world rather than just in our backyard.

They're by no means producing masterpieces, yet, but they are offering music that is original and interesting, and considering how hip hop seems to be growing stale the world over at the moment, with only a few handful of artists trying to make something new, I for one feel proud that Australia has finally cast it's hat into the ring of forward thinking rap.


Two Bullets : Chicks Who Love Guns

Video courtesy of www.closetakes.com

Chicks Who Love Guns- Ask Somebody Else from Closetakes on Vimeo.

Chicks Who Love Guns, the name really says it all, and if that wasn't enough to put you off this putrid and self serving bunch of uninspired talentless cunts their EP is called Vomit On The Dancefloor. Charming.

I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover but this band is on example or a case where making such a rash judgment would've saved you a lot of time and heart ache as this band has to be one of the most fetid and steaming piles of musical garbage to have slid out of Sydney's rotting musical birth canal in quite some time.

The worst part of it all is is that they don't even look like they're fucking enjoying themselves. Watching these self aggrandising pieces of shit mope about on stage like listless models begs the question why no one has taken to the stage and ripped their throats out of their necks with their teeth. Surely an example of their music in court would be more than enough evidence to plead justifiable homicide.

Enjoying limited success for god knows what reason, their purile single Vomit On The Dancefloor receiving the following praise from local critics

‘…they rock the hair off catfish…stupid and genius go hand-in-hand.’ BEAT Single Of The Week

‘It’s angry, brief, subtle as a donkey punch with knuckle dusters…’ RAVE Indie Release Of The Week

‘Title track ‘Vomit On The Dance Floor’ is violently fast paced...screamed to be screamed along with, cementing itself as a trouble makers anthem.’ The AU Review 8.5/10

‘Is the long awaited shot in the arm indie rock needs finally here? … these kids pull no punches on their first breath-robbing release.’ The Dwarf.com.au

If this isn't a sign that the local music media are not only completely corrupted by the industry, but they have no fucking taste either. I suppose after choking down bucketload after bucketload of record label semen while begging for more, the vile viscous fluid frothing around your mouth you probably would loose a sense of perspective.

Subjectivity in both music and life is undeniable. While one may see smoking marijuana as a crime that should be punished severely another sees it as a mostly harmless activity. Where one person see's hitting their child as discipline, another might see it as abuse. Where someone see's abortion as murder another see's it as a woman exercising her right to do with her body as she so pleases. However outside of psychopaths most people will agree that murder is wrong, and that rape is wrong, and I believe this music ammounts to the same thing.

Chick Who Love Guns rape music and they murder art.

Two Bullets, to the back of the head.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sick Python

Latest tracks by sickpython

Bursting onto the Sydney scene like a bulbous pimple of dancehall lunacy, Sick Python have been fast developing a fan following for their increasingly thrilling and sometimes dangerous stage show. Made up of driving lyrical force Pele, backed up by hype man Judge Demus and beatmaster Balls Deep, this three man hurricane of rhythm and flow are like a breath of pot-smoke in the otherwise stale air of Sydney's dancehall reggae scene.

Frontman Pele's lyrics, often difficult to grasp to those of us who are not well versed in Haitian patois, weave together intricate tales inspired by his own life spent on the run. Born in Nowra, Pele fled Australia as a young man for reason's not clear to anyone other than the man himself. Ending up in Haiti, where he soon established himself as one of the leading urban artists on the island, his meteoric rise was brought crashing down to earth when after being injured by the earthquakes, he was picked up by the Red Cross and evacuated back to Australia for medical treatment.

Having woken up in St Vincent De Paul's only a few months ago, Pele has not let a minute pass him by, forming Sick Python and setting out to rebuild what he's lost since being brought back to his homeland. Fuelled by a mixture of illicit substances and poverty, the trio have been blazing their way across the city's many stages, burning up the mic like a rasta style spliff, and they don't look to be showing any signs of stopping soon.

In a rare interview, we were lucky enough to catch up with the reggaeton renegade Pele himself to discuss life back in Australia, his inspirations and his mysterious past, ahead of Sick Python's headline show as part of the inaugural Chocolate Jesus at Iguana Bar this Sunday the 19th of September.

Two Bullets: Pele, tell me how have things been lately, Sick Python seem to be real busy, is it wearing you down?

Pele: Nah fool, its the opposite. It wears me up, nah mean?

TB: A lot of people seem to think the band is a joke, what do you have to say to them?

P: If it was a joke I would be laughin... But I ain't, so it must be not a joke then right?

TB: Would you say your music comes from the heart?

P: My heart, My head, My spirit, My spirituality, My sexuality, My world. Everywhere, nah mean?

TB: Could you explain what it means to you?

P: The universal power of one.

TB: You do seem to be a man of inexhaustible stamina, what's you're secret?

P: Cocaine.

TB: You've got a few shows coming up with these Chocolate Jesus boys, what made you want to start working with them?

P: I was gon call my 2003 single Chocolate Jesus but then I had to change it to 'White Chocolate' but I can't really talk about that.

TB: We all know you've had a rich life in entertainment already from when you were living in Haiti, winning the Latin Grammy for best pop/rap collaboration with Shakira, and working with UK sensation Dappy, what's it like now starting over again in Sydney?

P: It's a challenge. I'm the challenger. I am bringing my A Game to Sydney. 110% Blud.

TB: Speaking of your childhood move from Australia, could you tell us about that as there have been a lot of rumours circulating about what really happened and I'm sure your fans would like to know the truth?

P: I did not kill that Catholic priest I fatally wounded him. He chose to die.

TB: Anyway, sorry if I've touched a nerve, moving on... tell me about Sick Python and what you guys have coming up?

P: We are recording stuff all the time and we be playing Chocolate Jesus this Sunday at Iguana Bar and Double Dragon October 1 at Oxford Arts Factory and shit. Just like to shout out to Dark Bells and Disco Club and shit...Peace.

PVT : Church With No Magic

5 Stars

I’ve left this review a bit late.

Church With No Magic has been out for a while now.

The band launched the album in style across the nation in previous weeks, and it’s a matter of sheer laziness and frustrated semi-creative urges that has prevented me from writing this review, but just like your girlfriend’s period, it’s better late than never. In fact it’s a bit of a blessing as a viscous bloody discharge is a fitting motif to start this review with considering both the band’s twisted sense of humour and the fact that more than any other album I’ve heard this year, Church With No Magic is bloody and full of viscera.

Not to get carried away on a wave of cock-smoking, but you’d be hard pressed to find a release as bold and challenging as Church With No Magic. While the album never errs on the side of cautious creative restraint it still maintains and accessibility further refined from 2008's O Soundtrack My Heart. A bit of a contradiction I know, but PVT are a band who lap up the turbulent and contradictory waters between art and popualr appeal.

The best way to explain this seemingly paradoxical sound that is both complex and digestible is that with the addition of vocals and the evening out of the rhythmic landscape, PVT have given listeners a handle to grab on to as the heaving beast of an album drags them through it's strange habitat.

Not to say they’ve covered up the more experimental side of the band, the album being hewn from the raw sonic stone thrust out of the band’s imagination in a seismic four day jam session in Sydney’s BJB Studios, but they have found a way of making their esoteric and ephemeral musical wanderings more comprehensible to those of us lacking fluency in the band's intricate musical language.

Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Richard Pike’s voice forms the melodic centre-piece of a lot of the album, carrying the weight of the hooks with the other parts forming themselves around his simply stunning vocal work. Whereas the band’s earlier, predominantly instrumental work often relied on the instrumentation to serve as the bait, with the vocals now taking the load, the playing is given free rein to paint vivid and at times mind boggling images around Pike. This isn’t always the case though, the vocals at times serving a more instrumental and textural role and various instrumental parts across the album playing a more dominant role in the arrangements, but really you can’t take anything for granted on this album. The minute you do, PVT pull the floor out from under you and let you drop into an altogether different type of blissful abandon.

Drummer Laurence Pike (he’s Richard’s brother if you didn’t know, not his father, son or wife) has taken up a far less attention-grabbing role on the album. Possibly due to the band’s avoiding of overly complex time signatures or the added depth and weight to the music compared to previous releases, Laurence’s drumming can be at times overlooked on Church With No Magic. Considering his almost inhuman skills at the skins some might take issue with this but I for one welcome it and praise Laurence for having the humility to take a step back to support the band’s overall more textural and less definite approach. What he’s playing is still far from simple most parts likely to send a less ferocious drummer into a fit or cardiac arrest, but it’s presented in a more subtle fashion, subtle being a strange word to use in relation to an album that assaults the senses as forcefully as this does. Still when you can do shit like this http://www.myspace.com/laurenzpike (Drums For Fun & Fitness), showing off with a solo here or there probably seems pretty pointless.

This album also marks the first time sampling and live electronic guru Dave Miller was actually in the same country as the brothers Pike during the recording process, and the effect is monumental. You could never say that his work on O Soundtrack My Heart lacked complexity, but it’s more than evident that being in a room and jamming with the rest of the band as opposed to working on tracks sent over from halfway across the world brought out the mad scientist in Miller. Literally just spraying the album with a hot jet of amazing samples, woven into the silk of the album with the craft and skill of an Italian couturier, Miller adds a new dimension of depth. It’s often difficult to know what’s Dave and what’s Richard, Miller showing a true mastery of his craft and truly live sounding sense of vibrancy in what he does.

From ambient opener Community, through nervy title track Church With No Magic, powerful singles Window and Light Up Bright Fires, the insistent and driving Timeless and airy epic closer Only The Wind Can Here You, PVT deliver what I think is one of the most important album of the year so far, possibly even the previous decade. Really my only criticism is that it’s only 38 minutes long. However having recorded almost another album’s worth of b-sides I’m just hoping that we’re lucky enough to cop a deluxe edition of some sort a little later in the year.


Mclean Stephenson

Photography is a strange art-form, it essentially captures reality through the eye of the photographer and the lens of the camera, but for a photo to be true art it needs to be distorted by the artist so as to reflect the altered truth of their vision. This is something most photographers fail to realise, spending all their time on focussing on achieving clarity or making sure everything is in focus and lit properly. By contrast Mclean Stephenson seems very aware of this, his photos transforming the world and people before him, washing them in his own mantle of decay and neo-Victorian gloom.

His first exhibition held a few weeks ago at the charming Moon Age vintage clothing store in Surrey Hills showcased a variety of his work, mainly that featuring the musicians he's made a career out of shooting. These include the venerable PVT, the gorgeous Bridezilla, brooding troubadour Jack Ladder and the ever enigmatic Kirin J. Callinan amongst others, and Stephenson does a remarkable job at capturing their energy and attitude in photos that look as if they could have been taken from Gatsby's private collection.

However while these more commercial shots are great, and easily the best press shots I've seen taken by an Australian photographer, it is Stephenson's landscape and more abstract work that really captures the imagination. Taking views of Sydney's outer suburbs and transporting them to WWII France, constructing ghostly images where dark figures loom over the frame, his work seems to speak a language of tension, anxiety and fear, which is also tempered with a childlike humour and wistful sense of nostalgia.

I already feel pretentious enough discussing such subjective material while wielding a heavy mace of hyperbole, but before I wrap up this eerie love letter, let me just say that I have never seen work from an upcoming photographer that displayed such a well balanced sense of style and such a cohesive and consistently brilliant aesthetic. My only criticism is that there aren't more photos for me to obsess over.


Curled in a ball

at the back of his bedroom

Nigel stares fixedly at the door.

He's shivering

despite being wrapped in a blanket

and wearing a woolen hat.

The heater by the window is off.

Still he stares,

clinging ever tighter

to soiled fabric.