A range of postrock, experimental songforms, folktronica, drone and more tonight...
Mark Hollis - The colour of spring [Polydor]Talk Talk - After The Flood [Polydor]
When news broke earlier this week that Mark Hollis had died, there was an outpouring of love and sadness from around the world. There can hardly be any musician - and, with Talk Talk, any band - whose influence is more widely felt. Punk in their spirit of spurning all music industry expectations, masterful creators of beauty from minimalism, chance and occasionally noise. The last 2 1/2 Talk Talk albums, and Hollis' one solo album are iconoclastic, untouchable. And then Hollis left the music industry, the better to raise his family - an astonishing ethical act.
Of the "guitar solo" in "After The Flood" - actually a freaking out amplified "Variophon", a breath-controlled synthesizer which they stripped down to one howling, wobbling note that's sustained for over a minute in the middle of the track - the great producer & co-writer with Hollis Tim Friese-Greene says he remembers thinking, "This is the end. This is as far as we can go. After one note there's no notes. This will be the last album we make." And when you've created perfection, that's a fine conclusion to make.
Arthur Russell - Not Checking Up [Audika Records]
When the great Arthur Russell, cellist, vocalist and experimental disco king, died of AIDS in 1992, he reputedly left behinds 1000s of hours of unreleased demo tapes. This one was part of the sessions of his wonderful solo album World of Echo, and it showcases his lovely soft vocals, and his characteristic scratchy cello through delays and heaps of reverb. A beautiful discovery by Devendra Banhart.
Mary Rapp, Carl Dewhurst & Simon Barker - Dirt & Flowers [Mary Rapp Bandcamp]Mary Rapp, Carl Dewhurst & Simon Barker - Gave Me Proof [Mary Rapp Bandcamp]
Proficient on cello, double bass and vocals, Mary Rapp is one of the great musical talents to emerge from Sydney's music scene in the last few years. Her solo performances with cello & vocals (and no effects or amplification) are riveting, but here she's joined by two veteran improvisers from Sydney, guitarist Carl Dewhurst and Simon Barker, creating improvised songs recorded live by Richard Belkner at Free Energy Device Studios in Camperdown, Sydney. Any free jazz freakout tendencies are undercut by drones, repeating patterns and Rapp's raw, emotive vocals. Her cello, like Arthur Russell's, finds expression through scratchy harshness as much as melody, and a kind of expressionism that doesn't necessarily care for demonstrative virtuosity. In any case, it's an extraordinary collection of songs.
Maarja Nuut & Ruum - haned kadunud Maarja Nuut & Ruum - käed-mäed 
We're revisiting this incredible album from last year - one of my faves of 2018 - because Maarja Nuut & Ruum are in Australia for WOMADelaide, and have kindly decided to play shows in Sydney & Melbourne as well. On Thursday the 7th of March they play Howler in Melbourne supported by the fabulous Aphir, and in Sydney it's this Friday the 8th of March at Venue 505supported by none other than myself, in raven guise. Solo, Maarja Nuut combins Estonian folk music, classical music and storytelling into something spellbinding; with electronic musician Ruum this turns into an engrossing form of folktronica and I'm very excited to see it live.
My Disco - Forever [Downwards Records]My Disco - Forever (Makeda remix) [Nice Music]My Disco - Named [Temporary Residence/Bandcamp]My Disco - An Intimate Conflict [Downwards Records]
Melbourne trio My Disco have always been purveyors of a kind of minimalism - but up until now it's been brutally scythed postpunk riffs and grooves under barked vocals, gradually honed into something very heavy and dark over a number of albums. For their new one, Environment, they've taken their minimalism to an almost Talk Talk-ian logical conclusion, with dark drones and pulses, washes of noise, and intoned vocals, and hardly anything resembling riffs let alone drum beats. It's impressively effective. Simultaneously with the album on Regis's (usually techno) label Downwards Records, Melbourne's Nice Music have released an EP of Environment Remixes, all fairly radical takes on the originals. Young Melbourne producer Makeda takes the original and makes it simultaneously more approachable and more experimental, somehow. "Named" gives us a small taste of the honed riffs of their last album, Severe, before we're buried alive with the clanging metallic percussion and throbbing electronics of "An Intimate Conflict" from the new album.
Teeth of the Sea - I'd Rather, Jack [Rocket Recordings]Teeth of the Sea - All My Venom [Rocket Recordings]Teeth of the Sea - Wraiths In The Wall [Rocket Recordings]Teeth of the Sea - Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World [Rocket Recordings]
It's been almost 4 years since Teeth of the Sea's last album, the explosive Highly Deadly Black Tarantula which proved that they refuse to be pigeonholed. I'll call it postrock, but it's psychedelic rock and electronica and bizarrely the lead instrument mostly is a trumpet. Their new one, WRAITH, takes off pretty much where the last one left off, with a similar mix of musical styles and a similar dark outlook on the whole, although the last track I played is actually rather lovely in a kind of post-Tangerine Dream way.
Transtilla - Rudzki [Opa Loka Records]Transtilla - Lavender and Mulberry, 1959 [Opa Loka Records]
Dutch musicians Anne-Chris Bakker and Romke Kleefstra have been playing together for over a decade, but usually as part of a trio with Romke's brother, the poet Jan Kleefstra. With Transtilla they let loose with textured, sometimes noisy drones on two guitars.
Steam Vent - One Oasis And The Next Mirage [Chemical Imbalance]Del Lumanta is involved in some really cool stuff around Sydney, and creates experimental music under various names. We heard their alias Steam Vent last year with a beautiful piece of synthetic and real guitar from Longform Editions called * Swells. Now they have a new cassette on Chemical Imbalance called Take It Easy which they describe as "slow bedroom guitar dirge". We got to hear about half of the 20 minute A side tonight.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.