The New Releases Show
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Winner: 2022 Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, Contribution to Australian Music - Radio Programme.
Broadcast across Australia on the Community Radio Network, our nation-wide team do in-depth reviews of new, underground and most often Australian music. Click on the track listings below to read full reviews. Find more of our opinions on our Facebook and the Zedsite.
Blair Martin, Hillfolk, Matt Thrower, Andy Paine, Matthew Lynch, Kieran Ruffles, Jon Cloumassis, Boddhi Farmer, James Chadwick, Judy Jetson, Sean Tayler, Alison Paris, Tristan Birrell, Alex Campbell & Nick Stephan.
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17 March, 2023
On this week’s episode we’ve got the latest from, wait, Lalo Schifrin - it’s true; Death And Vanilla draw on krautrock and ol’ eurotronics to create soundscapes of depth and ethereal beauty; Primitive Motion are still the strangest pair of super-DIY sound-meddlers you know; and she might be a little under-the-radar but she’s louder, sweeter and more shoegazey than any four piece, we check out the Debris of Relay Tapes.
Lalo Schifrin: Man On A Swing OST (Wewantsounds)
0:58 Radio Source Rhythm (Alt Take) / 1:40 Juke Box Source
Released: 17th March
- The first ever vinyl release (and full remaster) of Lalo Schifrin’s soundtrack to Man On A Swing is about to become available. If you don't know him by name you could probably hum one of his tunes - the Mission Impossible theme comes to mind, being Hollywood’s go-to man for snappy action tracks. It is not just action movies he scored though - proving to be one of the most versatile film composers of all time.
Schifrin was born into a musical family and was encouraged to learn traditional styles at an early age. By the mid-1950s he was studying at the Conservatoire de Paris while playing jazz in Parisian nightclubs. A year later he met and arranged for Dizzy Gillespie, proving himself as jazz musician in his own right. Around this time is when he began doing sound for film and TV. With a comprehensive knowledge of classical, Latin AND jazz styles, Schifrin's work is both incredibly deft and varied. The Man On A Swing OST is a great example of this - touching on jazz, Latin and contemporary styles while bringing in the Wrecking Crew’s Emil Richards, Bud Shank and Howard Roberts (amongst other strong studio musicians).
These jazz leans are evident in a number of the songs, such as Smooth Factory Vibe, with a lush arrangement complete with a beautiful melody carried out by oboe (or is it cor anglais?). Another lovely string arrangement can be heard in Trip to LA, a suitably breezy track with rather minimal instrumentation. Also we’re given three iterations of the super-smooth Juke Box Source, a laid back, Latin infused number with electric keys, vibraphone, drums, acoustic guitar. Parking Lot Shuffle is quite a traditional jazz piece in itself, with its lead clarinet evoking the Disneyland era. On The Move is another jazzy piece complete with muted trumpet and saxophone.
This is punctuated by more dissonant, atmospheric compositions. Schifrin talked about first learning the power of music and the moving image early on, noticing how the use Brechtian techniques would generate most of the tension on-screen. Being a thriller, you know Man On A Swing probably needed these cues to ramp up the stress. This ranges from the overtonal dissonance of Dialatone or the end credits music or the eerie Evelyn Story with its strings and piano. Maggie Retraced is another stripped down piece starting with piano arpeggios that lead into an intriguing string arrangement.
Though it may not be as well known as some of his other scores, Man On A Swing is a soundtrack by a consummate musician at the height of his powers. A few innovative composers changed the sound of the movies, incorporating classical orchestration along with more contemporary styles like jazz and rock; in doing so they put themselves in a league of their own. I'm speaking of Ennio Morricone, John Barry and, without a doubt, Lalo Schifrin.
Sampology & Charlie Hill: Galaxy (Middle Name)
3:26 Constant Call Ft. Tiana Khasi
Released: 1st May
-This is a new collaboration based on a love of jazz and 'tronics shared by well-known producer Sampology (here on MPC) and increasingly well-known drummer and fellow Meanjin-Brisbanite, Charlie Hill. There's a third local on this advance cut from their record, Galaxy, providing some lush, soulful vocals is Tiana Khasi.
Death And Vanilla: Flicker (Fire)
3:18 Out for Magic
Released: 17th March
- Despite deriving their name from lyrics in a Nick Cave deep cut, Death and Vanilla sound more Broadcast than The Birthday Party. Their new album, Flicker, incorporates elements of krautrock and early European electronica to create a sonic landscape of great depth and ethereal beauty.
Originally a duo, comprising Marleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson, Death and Vanilla formed in Malmö, Sweden in 2009. Magnus Bodin joined in 2012 and the group has continued as a trio since. Sounding, at times, both distinct and familiar, Death and Vanilla share an aural similarity to the hauntological pop released through English labels Ghost Box and Folklore Tapes whilst concurrently drawing inspiration from their hometown’s industrial history.
Developing their sound with each release, Death and Vanilla’s self-titled 2012 debut was reminiscent of Cluster fronted by Julee Cruise. Sophomore release To Where the Wild Things, was more expansive and rooted in experimentation. Finding their feet as a trio, the band debuted a more fleshed out, dense, psychedelic sound. 2019’s Are You a Dreamer? with its lush, dream pop stylings, signaled a more established group, the band’s confidence evident in the album’s more assured sound.
Flicker heralds a more stripped back, minimalist approach, without sacrificing the otherworldly atmospherics of past releases. Relying less heavily on synths and samples, it is perhaps as close as Death and Vanilla will get to releasing a typical rock record. Bass and guitar are much more evident and Nilsson’s vocals, previously little more than a whisper, sit much higher in the mix, driving the songs, rather than merely providing accompaniment.
Album opener, Out For Magic kicks off with a quick fire drumbeat and snaky, reverb laden guitar, think Joy Division covered by The Ventures. Nilsson’s cryptic lyrics, “We are the ones / Bending the sound / Rhythm of change / Calling your name” appears to reference the occult mystery of music, with the musician as magician, casting the listener under the spell through song.
Commencing with ninety seconds of heavy, sci-fi synth, Looking Glass launches into the familiar space rock territory found on the band’s earliest releases. Unexpectedly, a jangly guitar riff jolts the listener out of the stratosphere, landing them in the middle of an indie rock song. Playfully sliding between different musical galaxies, Death and Vanilla prove to be a band adept at taking the path less travelled, constantly surprising the listener with their sonic twists and turns.
Mercury’s Rising contains all the hallmarks of a light, airy pop song, if it was played at 33 instead of 45rpm and contained a sprinkling of psychedelics for good measure. Nilsson’s hushed vocals add an ethereal edge to the woozy interplay of guitar and piano. Mirroring the feeling of waking from a dreamlike state, the song ends suddenly, before reprising, slowly and quietly over a background of natural found sounds.
With each new release Death and Vanilla have established their own sound and grown less indebted to their influences. Flicker showcases a well practiced trio, trimmed of the sonic trickery and musical melodrama used to pad out previous albums. This decision to embrace a more organic, stripped back sound has done little to hamper the group’s drive for experimentation, nor, through a diverse fusion of influences, their ability to create musical alchemy.
- Nick Stephan.
Various Artists: Milk! Records Remixed Vol.1 (Milk! / Remote Control)
7:11 Liz Stringer: First Time Really Feeling (Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 & Tim Shiel Remix) mindy mong waang / gujaang
Released: 12th May
- Milk! Records is celebrating a decade in the biz -no mean feat- with a record of remixes, interpretations and other weird and wonderful meetings. The first of those we get to hear is Liz Stringer, a woman I've always thought sounded a bit like The Boss, singing in her tough, bittersweet way over the striking sounds of Mindy Meng Wang's 王萌 ghuzeng and the sophisticated beats of Tim Shiel. There'll be lots more surprises to come when the comp arrives mid-May.
Primitive Motion: Portrait Of An Atmosphere (A Guide To Saints)
10:42 Portrait IV
Released: 17th March
- It’s a little hard to keep track of Meanjin / Brisbane duo Primitive Motion. Sandra Selig and Leighton Craig have pumped out around twelve EPs and full-length records (my rough estimate) at the pace of roughly one every year and they’ve -nearly but not quite- gone through as many styles in the process. Beginning in the way-back-when of 2011 they sounded like a murky, experimental pop band, emerging from the echoing, DIY beyond.
Since then, as Lawrence English -who has been on occasion offering both mastering and record label assistance- puts it, they have “gently unlocked a uniquely divergent soundworld that haunts the fringes of folk, krautrock, lof-fi pop and foggy electronics.” Their territory is probably even more wide-ranging than that description suggests and I struggle to find in amongst that lot a theme which unites their entire catalogue, bar a very enthusiastic willingness to pick up whatever instrument, or even simply sound that they happen to come across (hint: there are a lot) and use them in whatever fashion takes their fancy at the time.
Where does 2023 and their latest release, Portrait Of An Atmosphere find them? Well as divergent as ever. I guess the most obvious thing about these six big slices of sound is how different the ‘atmosphere’ is by comparison to the rest of the Primitive Motion oeuvre. As Craig says in the liner notes, they made the brave decision to forgo much of the reverb and delay that usually wrap PM's music in echoes. Anyway, I guess that makes it little bit more high-def, so it's easier to tell it's not really ambient or drone and also that it’s certainly not one of their ‘pop’ records, with nary a three minute ear-worm of drum-machine in sight.
You do still have that almost insatiable appetite I described earlier, for picking up instruments and jamming out what’s in Sandra and Leighton’s shared mindscape. I haven’t seen any instrumentation credits for Portrait, which is a departure, they usually publish a list of anything up to twenty different instruments they’ve been fiddling with. Notably, there’s very often very little -virtually nothing- rhythmic, even when there is percussion present, creating something that verges on the formless, on occasion. What little structure there is often comes from repeated melodic patterns.
This begins with an acoustic guitar’s simple arpeggiated twang on Portrait I, against which Sandra’s haunting, wordless vocals play counterpoint. If I had to compare it to anything it would be an Ennio Morricone soundtrack (really, there’s whistling) stripped back to its uttter fundaments and re-imagined in the most DIY fashion possible.
The sound begins to mutate towards track’s end and then Portrait II picks up flute and cymbal and all sorts of things, including field recordings of a crowd scene and a melodica. It returns to the acoustic theme of the first Portrait on occasion. The Morricone western soundtrack illusion is finally shattered, however, by samples of someone twirling the tuner on a radio.
Portrait III actually does slip into a little reverb to complement modal melodies played on middle-eastern sounding brass, pressed up against patterns played on accordion, among other things. Again, if I had to compare this to anything, this one has more percussion than most and it’s kinda like one of those hypnotic loopscapes dreamed up by The Necks; but again, very DIY and super-stripped-back.
The ten minute enormity of the final Portrait IV is perhaps my favourite. Eerie piano chords again betray a little more reverb in the production and gentle gusts of wind instruments and voice. The whole procession of Portraits has been melancholy, but this final installment is just about creepy, like the journey is coming to an unsettling end. Stabs of zithery strings send shivers up the spine. Things end with an enigmatic and untreated pattern on guitar and keys, suggesting an epiphany of some kind.
That epiphany would be the final number, Trenches Of Time. A separate entity to the through-composed Portrait suite, its tingling chimes and discordant vocals are rubbed up against a metallic drone. It feels like the listener has been abducted from whatever enviroment they were in and beamed into some harsh, alien landscape where incomprehensible technologies occasionally make themselves felt via indistinct burbles of very computerised sounding synth. I have a feeling the characters that took this aural journey, may have gone to a place from which they can never return.
Is it stating the obvious to say that a Primitive Motion record is a strange one? Portrait Of An Atmosphere feels stranger than most, however. Its through-composed nature makes it sound like a soundtrack, while its brave decision to expose such uncompromisingly DIY elements and moody, haunting harmonies, makes me think that the music would best accompany a film collaboratively directed by Roger Corman and John Carpenter. It’s certainly a Primitive Motion record, even if it doesn’t sound quite like any one of so very many that came before. Sandra Selig and Leighton Craig will continue to do just as they like, even if it means transporting their listeners to an alien world from which there is no return.
- Chris Cobcroft.
Whyte Fang: SCREAM Ft. Erick The Architect (FMU)
3:08 SCREAM Ft. Erick The Architect
- Do you know Whyte Fang? It's the dark alter-ego of Alison Wonderland. She's released a bunch of singles under the moniker, leading up to a bigger release, I think? I sure hope so - this sounds great.
Relay Tapes: Debris (Indie)
- Brodie J Brümmer, member in good standing of one of Australia’s better known shoegaze bands, Flyying Colours once described Relay Tapes as ‘intentionally flying under the radar’, when putting the outfit at the top of his list of other Aussie shoegazers to check out. This should maybe make you feel okay if you’ve never heard of them. Or maybe it shouldn’t, that’ll make sense as we get further in. When I say ‘they’, I mean Jade Tyers, who originally started roaring out distortion as far back as 2011. I always thought it was overcompensating duos that made the most noise -looking at you, Lightning Bolt- but man, Relay Tapes may be the first one-woman shoegazer I’ve come across and boy does she make some thunder.
So, keeping a low profile, there are seven whole years I don’t know about in the Relay Tapes bio, but Tyers turns up again with the Semblance EP, in 2018. It’s five tracks of solid ‘gazing, the wall of noise a bit less subtly inflected than later RT output, but, let’s face it, the genre is not exactly known for going quietly. Also, whatever else you might say it’s a work of serious overachievement, with Tyers writing, recording, mixing, mastering and making the cover art, which features a colourful pair of Ken Done-but-more-tasteful Macaws. Also, despite the fact that I was blissfully unaware of this record, it got a release on German label Dreams Never Ends, so that’s not really ‘flying under the radar’.
Two years later, 2020’s Early Morning Abstract EP dropped with another five nuggets of noise. This time Jade felt free to experiment harder. Opener, Theme 42, is ambient as much as it is shoegaze and sounds like a psychedelic orchestra tuning before the concert. There are more adventurous intros and outros and gaze’s little sibling, dream pop is more in evidence across the record, providing some haunting and beautiful contrasts to the maximum decibel moments. There’s even some vaguely indie-country-sounding Mazzy Starish stuff on Dream Colour, or is that just me? Early Morning Abstract also migrated to the home country of the sound, releasing in England on Shore Dive records; you can see Relay Tape’s British fans waxing lyrical about it on her Bandcamp page.
That brings us to the present and the brand new EP, Debris. Well, sort of, the circumstances of the last few years mean some of these songs have been floating around for a while. More confident than ever, the arty touches are brilliant, beginning with a delicious, scalic synth intro to Street Scene. The production is more confident than ever, the layering of the sound allows for the kind of stylistic variation that too often gets lost in the wash of shoegaze. Check out the mournful alt-rock of Fader for evidence - I can even make out some of Tyer’s lyrics! “You are just like me” she breathes. Well I don't know, I might play better guitar if that's really the case.
Comedown is, I belive, one of the singles from the record and it’s easy to hear why you would choose it. The most indie-pop song Relay Tapes has ever recorded, alternating between sugar sweet verses and firestorm choruses. I can actually make out quite a lot of this rather enchanting love song as Tyer sings: “To reach into a sky / Burning full and bright / She sees me from on high / Come down here / I’m here / Come down.”
Debris’ title-track is another experiment in ambience. If it were just a little darker it’d probably be drone, but the harmonies are sweet, underneath the sepulchral echoes of the production. Love the cawing of the Meanjin / Brisbane crows in the background of the outro. The whole thing is a nicely contrasting transition to the closing number, another single, called Daylighter, a surprisingly propulsive piece which shows off more of Tyer’s agility on the frets than I can recall elsewhere. Chiming xylophone pierces the giant guitar of the chorus and plays across the cute-as-a-button outro.
As much as the work you hear is Jade Tyer’s in its entirety, she has been enlisting the help of like-minded individuals (from, for instance, Ultra Material, Pynes and Ancient Channels) to perform it live, since as far back as 2018, sharing stages with a lot of Meanjin / Brisbane’s best bands. Maybe if I went out to gigs more often I wouldn’t be in the embarrassing position of having to admit that this is the first time I’ve really engaged with Relay Tapes. Still, I’m so glad I have. I have no information about whether Debris is getting another overseas release, but golly it should. It’s the best work yet by Relay Tapes and I think I’ve mentioned she was never a slouch. Debris? Hardly.
- Chris Cobcroft.