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A Few Short Words

Dense Not Thick

Profession

Arris lays her head on my chest and sighs lightly, like tulip dew dropping on grass. ‘I can hear your heart,’ she says. I wonder out loud, is it too fast? ‘Steady,’ she says, ‘I’m surprised.’ I am too, living as I’ve been with the thump-pause-thump-thump-triple pause-triple thump-pause-thump pumping like a morse operator jumping at the lines. Yet, I feel unshakeably calm. ‘I feel so safe in your arms.’ I slip my hand to the nape beneath soft linen curls and massage ventricular messages into her mind, finally having found my calling.

Tape/Off: Broadcast Park

Article originally appeared on The Music Jul 12th 2018

Broadcast Park is gritty, raw and thick, full of misleading lulls presented here as potholes on a dirt road. It’s really quite excellent if you’re in the mood for being thrashed about.

A vocalisation of manifest injustice, this is the bang and the whimper, the burning of the straw man in variegated and at times atonal intonations that flux from sombre to manic without diverging from a brand of beat delivery that feels as jarring and unacceptable as its subject matter should. And yet, it’s so authentic, so immediate, grounded and familiar that it’s like listening to your down on his luck mate air his grievances. And good on ’em, good flipping on ’em, because it’s taken years for this LP to arrive and you’d have to wonder if there were no frisson at this point then why make anything at all? Thankfully we have fragments here that are over four years old and are hitting home in ways that are more relevant than ever. Things are not going well and it’s a great time for people to hear why.

Tape/Off have put forward something that says, this is Australia, this is modern life, this is malaise meets rage at its most percussive and poignant. This is the sound of someone who’s finally had enough and is ready to speak up.

Attuned

Arris looks right into my eyes and I shiver so hard I think I might die. ‘Are you ok,’ she says. I tell her I think she hit a nerve. I can feel her pressed against my being, strumming across my sinews like some cosmic harpist. The sound of a solitary droplet striking the surface of a subterranean spring. I quiver, don’t die, and listen to it resonate. ‘I can hear you thinking,’ she says, a tuning fork tapped against bone. Inside my skull, I say, I don’t doubt it, and she smiles wide enough to swallow me whole.

Keystone

A penny for your thoughts and a quoin for your wall, I’ll scream from the ramparts, I love it all. From curlicue to balustrade, balcony to bay, I relish the delicacy with which your facade is made. In basement, through casement, under transom and truss, a handful of setbacks will never break us. Beautiful buttresses and steep moulding spires, immaculate masonry and a hearth full of fires, and under the eaves an attic rife with desires, my one castellation now thrown to the pyre. A last little roundel placed on my heart, one final flourish that sets you apart.

Anchor

I wake into her as the drowning man, gasping and lost. She strokes my hair as the seawater nightmare drains from my lungs and says, ‘Hush.’ Have I been sleeping? ‘Sort of,’ she says, ‘in a way we both have.’ My skin seems aerated, void of tension, and I worry her arms wont be enough to tether me. ‘Don’t worry,’ she says, as though my thoughts were a stream running over opal pebbles and passing from her lips, ‘we have each other now and that’s all there is.’ I worried I might never wake, I say, opening my eyes.

Special Guests… Can I Sample A Feeling?

Quantum

All that shifts in the night is silence and smoke. ‘I want to show you something,’ she says. Placing my hand in hers, she lays them on the counter, placid. The smoke coils, dancing between us. Countless molecules shimmer, cavort, and graze upon their fabric. The air warms, its crisp brace shredded in a still kinetic bath. She raises her hand and one hundred trillion atoms are suddenly meagre, they burst and multiply, flitter and merge, shouting joyously across an indefinable space. ‘Can you see it,’ she asks. I tell her, I can feel it. Suddenly everything is different.

Abstractions

I’ve seen stewing.rainfall.eats, dreaming.munch.magnetic and best.prosper.lash, yet nothing has felt so splendid as mutual.minds.dusty, a welcoming kiss and instant ease. Being led through librarian.labels.shelf and insert.they.coherent to life.toast.think where we listened to each other, made coffee to drink and learnt strong surface depths. Moving past scare.types.reveal we lay in exist.light.drums, linked.digits.fears quelled and simply felt. Quench.lakes.giving, watching us with patience, letting in little outside lights, lives.puzzle.lush, while elsewhere the oily river babbles, struck.give.rewarding.

Sheer

Standing by the cliff, she says, ‘I want you to push me first and then dive in after to save me.’ I don’t ask why and she laughs and the harness tightens. ‘Are you scared?’ Only of losing you, I say. ‘Don’t worry,’ she says, ‘after this you’ll have only lost fear.’ I can almost see her skin eating the sunlight, caramel clashing and consuming the blue. She turns to face the cliff and the future and says, ‘Now fucking push me.’ I put my hands to the small of her back and whisper in her ear, I love…

Radiance

A tiny brow crease and wrinkle of the little pock that lives above the left. There’s something in her eyes. They’re glistening, not with tears but a spectrum, a fast vastness that ripples and contorts and plays across the iris like a borealis flirting upon the tundra. This thing in her eyes, it doesn’t hurt but does carry fear; it doesn’t propel, but does carry hope; it doesn’t carry her, but does makes her float. The brows push together more, increasing indent. There’s something in her eyes. There’s a word for it, wholly inadequate but labelled, an unbearable lightness.

Tautological

I wonder what I’m supposed to be some times. A sin eater? A catalyst? Collateral damage? Is it one of those perception things, a parallax error where life doesn’t line up for us because we see it from different angles and they’ll always be at odds? I wonder what that means I am some times. The glass? The water? The waiter? Is it one of those preconception things, a baked-in behaviour as over cooked as this analogy? I wonder what I should say some times. I am, I am not, I may be? Yes, no, maybe? I wonder?

Upcycle

I threw all of your things out like so much good trash. I went out and put it all in the garbage, stared at the recycling bin and shrugged, saying, ‘Sometimes there’s nothing to be done, buddy,’ before walking back inside. All I kept was one lousy photo, it’s not even of you, just some trees you can’t much see and a hazy sunset that means nothing to me. I put it in a box of forgettables, one day I might look at it and remember you, it happens, but it won’t feel like anything, not even a waste.

The World’s Biggest Dickhead

Billy had a penis growing on his head somewhere. Reputedly it was quite big, as people had remarked upon it many times. Unfortunately Billy could neither see nor feel the penis and its exact dimensions remained a mystery to him. ‘What a dick head,’ someone might say, with begrudging wonder in their voice. If particularly preoccupied with ire or other matters they might exclaim, ‘You are the biggest dick head I have ever met.’ Unsure whether to feel pride at its invisible splendour or shame for the inexplicable tone of exasperation that accompanied its mention, Billy was routinely confounded by the continuing fascination of others. Still, he was pleased to be noticed at all and grew to quite enjoy his phallic point of difference, though it could never be compared to his original visible member he knew deep down that it should be something special to draw such frequent and fervent commentary. Having concluded thus, that his mysterious appendage must simply be splendid to others but was quite literally beyond his grasp, Billy continued to live life as he always had, with a pride of dormant butterflies ever waiting to flutter at a friend or stranger’s utterance, ‘Billy, you are a massive dickhead.’

Of course there were darker times, late at night or whilst dwelling in a pit dug from indecision and inner derision, occasions when Billy wondered why it was he could not see what others saw. What lack might he have, what missing sense or unintelligence was inhibiting his perception? When these niggling threads would irritate the mind, Billy found it soothing to unravel them to their fullest. The midnight oil burnt quick in deep rabbit holes, as he wandering through wiki warrens and endless YouTube tutelage, where an article on auras might lead to an excerpt on extra sensory perception, essays on the collective unconscious drew magicians and medical doctrine together, philosophers and philistines held court over soothsayers and sense memory in discourses that ran a roughshod gamut from zeitgeist and eyesight. Billy grew dizzy with knowledge and an increasing absence of clarity, his head hurt and he would often dwell in a migraine inducing fugue of phallically focussed phantom limb symptoms.

Having exhausted all internal and online avenues, inevitably Billy turned to back to the world for answers.

Donny Benet: The Don

Article originally appeared on The Music Apr 6th 2018

Don’t despair, Donny Benet’s latest album contains the same mix of self-deprecation, satire and synth you’ve come to expect – sort of like the soundtrack to an ’80s summer coming of age comedy at the intersection of arpeggiation and assonance – but over the course of four albums Benet has polished his shtick so much that it’s almost impossible to hold on to.

Most of Donny’s charm comes from his simplicity and sincerity, the anachronistic auteur delivering droll woes over dubious loops. But there’s only so much mileage you can milk from the sad-boy romantic sound before the appeal starts to droop and Donny seems more like a Reddit brand ‘Nice Guy’ than a stand-up comedian with a backing band.

Maybe the world has changed in the four years since we spent the Weekend At Donny’s or maybe Donny hasn’t. All the tracks on The Don are individually bouncy things, rife with potential giggles and nostalgic beats, all delivered with an oddly well-kempt joie de vivre. But it’s a little too clean and manufactured, a bowl of refined sugar where one or two spoonfuls might be nice but anything more than that and you’re probably doing yourself a damage.

Jaala: Joonya Spirit

Abridged article appeared in The Music (April 2018)

Jaala’s Joonya Spirit feels like a concealed middle finger held in the pocket of an oversized op-shop jacket worn by someone much cooler than you. There’s a prickish quality that’s intriguing rather than alarming, even if you know getting close might hurt a little. 

Tempos flare between slam dance, soul, and social dissonance. Tracks are quickly irreverent and seditiously relevant, bounced along by Cosima’s quirky delivery and salty, kawaii-killer attitude. It seems sort of grubby and immediate, but wipe away some of that oddly glamorous grime and there’s a thousand facets to be seen. Most of the song are restless with purpose, the sort of cohesive flux brought out in zoetrope, and it makes the schismatic timing all the more admirable for the cohesion it brings.

More Mangelwurzel than Hard Hold, Joonya Spirit manages to straddle both scenes, splicing the saccharine with the incisive. Schofield’s new synths slot seamlessly into the existing synergistic dissonance Moles and Jaala create together, adding a pop-ish quality akin to an unexpected balloon explosion. The overall effect is a compelling kind of propulsion, jagged and smoothly erratic.

Innocently itself, cool without care, Joonya Spirit is a confident release that deftly sidesteps the second album slouch.

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