Every now and then I come across a release that I really want to tell everyone about, yet no matter how long I let it simmer in my head, I’m at a loss for just the right words to use… Occasionally that has resulted in something of a lateral approach, but I really didn’t want to leave it a minute more before talking about Wreck And Reference’s Black Cassette, particularly as – instead of something moderately easy like altering images with wire, sand and various other mediums – the artistic inspiration this is responsible for involves herding a big group of unsuspecting people near large buckets of different coloured paint, plus the use of a fly wall and a catapault.
I have no idea why, though I’d hazard a guess it has something to do with that cover art, but it’s all beside the point since it’s not something I have the resources to accommodate. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that the presumed people-mosaic such a thing would result in looks very cool the way I imagine it.
There is something a bit fascinating about the focus of surprise people have after being subject to forces greater than themselves, particularly if that force has become an accepted if but domineering presence, as I suspect a great big catapault in a room would be. I’d bet good money people would be splat against that wall and saying things like “My good coat! It’s ruined!“, partly because they already know and have accepted how they got stuck to that wall, and it can’t be changed, and partly because there is strange comfort in the absence of will and choice. Such, also, is the power of something that is both personal and visual that it usually supersedes the importance of great things in our immediate vicinity, even if they pose a threat.
Generally, if people are thrown, they accept they will fall.
On to much more important matters, however, and this music. There are things that are due attention (like all the stuff about innovation and so on, in particular that this can be filed under genres like doom, noise and metal yet it’s all electronic aside from the drums). And then there are the things that grab mine… Things like “what’s it like to not have hands?”, a line in the first track All The Ships Have Been Abandoned, which is my own paint-covered coat. (Metaphorically speaking).
What’s actually important is that there is a hell of a lot that is striking within the 2o or so minutes these tracks run for, and if/when you give some thought to what struck you the most, I doubt it’s going to be what instruments were (or weren’t) used. These songs have been crafted effectively enough for that to be largely inconsequential, to me anyway. As in, good music is bloody good music; don’t care how you make it.
You can currently purchase the second issue of Black Cassette from Music Ruins Lives, which includes an exclusive track. As with all their other releases, numbers are limited but if you miss out, you can grab a digital copy from Bandcamp.
According to my dashboard, I started this post six weeks ago. According to my head, I have no idea where I was going with what I had written. If S4E were a televised cooking show, bringing up a half-baked cake from six weeks back with “here’s one I prepared earlier”, pretending I knew what the contents were…once, well, it isn’t going to look all that good no matter how bright n’ shiny my smile is. (Unless it’s a fruit cake, the kind you have to boil for hours and can keep in a hessian sack until such a time as fruit cake is required. I don’t make those, though). So I’m going to have to start from scratch – seems like a decent place to start, anyway.
The main point is, I know jack about black metal. That’s not news, I’ve said as much on other occasions and – as you can see – it shows every time I try to write about it, thus I consistently realise and admit to it. Something I do know is that a good percentage of it that I’ve listened to has left me scratching my head and wondering why the hell I don’t get what’s going on – which, it’s important to note, is distinctly different from simply wondering what the hell they’re on about. That’s because there’s been a select few albums that I not only immediately grasped, but they managed to impress me beyond what I would have thought possible for music with which I usually feel I have no particular aptitude or affinity. So I’ve developed something of a perpetual curiosity about it – while admittedly it’s relatively mild, it’s also an anomaly in that I would usually neglect to actively seek out releases from a genre if I considered the vast majority of it something I don’t like and/or “get”.
Kurdaitcha, strangely enough, lies somewhere in the middle of my capacity to understand – and therefore possibly appreciate – it. That’s strange because I dig the most of it. While it contains much of the abrasiveness and dissonance I’ve started to become familiar with, there’s a rationale to it I can grasp and I’m not left thinking I haven’t understood the basics of where it’s coming from.
At this stage, I remain convinced that there’s a language to black metal that’s ultimately beyond my current level of understanding. I sometimes think it might even be the absence of certain language(s) that causes me to get the sense I need to learn something different before I can interpret and understand what I’m listening to. By language, I’m not referring to lyrics/vocals, either. When I listen to music, no matter how unfamiliar with it I am, I can detect things that I am familiar with, and either relate directly, or translate them to a slightly different sense: visual, literal, emotional…and so on. I’ve really only ever been able to do that once with a black metal album (Murmuüre’s S/T). It’s weird.
Maybe that’s the point. And why I keep gravitating towards it, as though it’s a unique dialect that I can crack if I just listen to enough of it. Perhaps eventually I’ll stop telling myself there’s a secret code to unlock, for surely music has the capacity to just speak – out of the sheer need for, or indulgence in, a different languange – and I’ll appreciate it for that.
For now, and what it’s worth (from someone who spent the opening paragraph inexplicably rambling about cake, and most of the rest talking about this music as if it’s an odd curiosity in need of deciphering), I like this album. I can’t tell you much about it other than that, but I can virtually guarantee that if you’re even moderately inclined to give it a listen, you’ll find a thing or two to like about it as well. If you pay attention to certain circles, you likely would have seen a certain amount of hype surrounding its release. I, at least, have the capacity to recognise why; it’s a prime example of the kind of music that keeps me exploring the genre instead of giving it up.
Kurdaitcha was released on vinyl and as a digital download by Enemies List Home Recordings. The download may be acquired for free, but you can show your support for the artists behind the music by donating some cash via the download page.
Here’s where things can get a little more interesting and flexible, as I’ve taken a slightly different direction in terms of music that had an impact on me, as well included some stuff I find more interesting now than I did then, with the focus on underground music that I’m not so sure many Aussies are aware of these days let alone anyone internationally – plus I want to elaborate on something I only hinted at yesterday.
’88 and ’89 were my first two years of high school – a place where hundreds of still-forming identities are vying to establish and distinguish themselves from the masses – but, and here’s the kicker, at the same time, those identities are yearning to identify with and be accepted by their peers. High school is a place where, in amongst the swirl of other things, music often forms part of the language that is developed to help forge a separation from the ‘other’ (i.e. parents, siblings, or pretty much anyone in a position of authority) while still capable of eliciting an immediate understanding between two peers – quite a powerful thing when you think about it, and in retrospect I can see that at first, that phenomenon did influence what I chose to listen to back then.
In those first two years, I had no identity in high school other than “Bomber’s little sister“. My brother was infamous, considered slightly dangerous, and therefore ultimately ‘cool’. I was mousy, hardly spoke a word, and had stones thrown at me because I sat at the bus stop reading books instead of gossiping about which boy I wanted to kiss (for the record, it was the guitar player in the school band. I don’t remember his name, I just remember that he walked around the school in a trench coat and played the guitar).
My first solution to this was to steal my brother’s Black Flag t-shirt and wear it to school, only I felt like a complete fraud for the entire day. Instead of getting nods of approval, stares of admiration or awe (as I thought would be the case), I wound up interpreting even the slightest hint of a sideways glance as containing contempt and a general laugh at my expense for the failed attempt at being ‘cool’.
Anyway…music. Initially, it was something I tried to use to connect to my friends, but as focus for them became more and more about things like who was the cutest member of New Kids on the Block, music became something I used to connect to something else entirely, and in terms of my peers it was something I was completely alone in – which is probably what I wanted. As my taste evolved, my interest in what my brother listened to gradually became genuine instead of an attempt at hi-jacking some of his street cred. Most of this took place post-’80’s, and in some cases there were artists I only remembered a year or two ago and started listening to them.
One of the most important bands to my brother back then was Massappeal, who released their debut, Nobody Likes A Thinker, in 1986… Bloody hell I thought it was awful, to the point where I considered there just might be something wrong with him for listening to it (in that conceited way most young people have of thinking they’re in a position to judge things they don’t understand). I looked at the picture on the cover, heard this aggressive mess of noise coming from the general direction of his room and just shook my head. This leaves me unable to relate first-hand what an album like NLAT meant to the youth of Australia at the time, but I can say that I now have two of their albums and I play them more than I play the Black Flag albums I also have.
There’s very little online that I could turn up, but here’s a track from NLAT, one of my (now) favourites Can’t Forget. Turn it up loud.
The following clip is a 2006 performance of a song called What Are Man’s Fears by Box of Fish, for the launch of an album called Box of Fish Invented Grunge 1984, which was when the song was first released…perhaps obviously. True enough I paid no attention to this when it was released, in fact, I can’t even promise you I heard it in the 80’s, but in listening to the entire album, I found it interesting as a distinct blend of goth punk, grunge, industrial and noise, which is kinda cool for something that while taking a few cues from The Birthday Party and even one or two from Dead Kennedys, pre-dates the explosion of the latter few genres later on in the 80’s and early 90’s with bands like The Jesus Lizard. (NB the two minute clip is unfortunately not the entire song and cuts out unexpectedly, but it’s long enough to get the general jist).
Finding that clip reminded me of another Aussie box-y band, Box The Jesuit. I remember reading about them in the aforementioned magazine Hot Metal, in which they explained where they got their name from and what it meant. I found this a high source of amusement at the time and didn’t really pay much attention to anything other than that, but I decided to look them up – I’m relieved to report that what while they look a bit ‘Adam Ant‘ on the cover up there, they’re again a bit more on the seedier, gothic punk side of things, so here’s their track Sniffing At The Tailpipes of Hell.
Lastly, though I was trying to keep it at only two clips per post owing to load times etc, I think I really need to make special mention of a band called Lubricated Goat. This is one song I remember very well indeed (watch the clip and guess why!) In The Raw was one of those songs that has the capacity to tear a nation in two… Ok, so that’s getting a little far-fetched, but when they appeared on Andrew Denton‘s show Blah Blah Blah, there were generally two kinds of reactions: those who found it disturbing and offensive, and those who found it awesome and hilarious. I’m not sure if I’m embarassed to admit that I belong to the ‘awesome and hilarious’ camp or not. The main reason I’m putting this up, though, is because by some fairly unexplainable reasons, a bunch of naked dudes growling ‘In the raw! Rawr!‘ is so utterly, undeniably, classicly Australian.
For further exploration of 80’s Australian (let’s just say) alternative music, I recommend looking up Hard-Ons for punk / power-pop, Cosmic Psychos and Celibate Rifles for garage punk / rock, The Church for vaguely Joy Division-ish new wave, and if you can dig it up from somewhere (I’ve had no luck myself other than the linked, fairly low sound quality live clip) Hot Tomatoes for a taste of 80’s punk, Adelaide style.