AL is the debuttocks ALbum by gonzoid Canberra immigrants Bum Creek. Relocating to Melbourne from their hometown a few years back, Sam Karmel, Trevelyan Clay and Tarquin Manek have made a reputation for themselves as one of the strangest, stupidest and most amazing live bands in town. They turn every show into a triumphant, lurching mess of synth squiggles, kraut percussion, confrontational stage antics and vocal gibberish.
The question, though, with this kind of performance-heavy, musically nonsensical behaviour, is always whether it can be translated into a listenable record. This has been answered by the somewhat surprising fact that, sequestered away in their own studio far from prying eyes, Bum Creek make amazing music.
Available on limited edition vinyl only, with a digital download card inserted into each copy, the largely improvised AL is sophisticated, wide-ranging and even subdued in places. The loping, only slightly spastic riﬀ of Bollywood is as close to a pop song as the band will probably ever get, while the drifting vocal monologue of Weird Prince is alternately hilarious and haunting. Across its six extended tracks, AL hints at the bandmembers’ rich and varied musical backgrounds, which range from minimal techno prodution to free jazz.
This Bum Creek tension between live dementia and musical smarts has not gone unnoticed. The band were chosen to support the Boredoms at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in October, and even gave guided “Art Walks” at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the 2009 Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
Now with AL, Bum Creek are ready to leave their hometown and spread throughout the universe like a particularly infectious musical rash.