Our new downbeat/ambient compilation Midnight Meditations is out today. Here’s a handy info sheet with background and links for all the artists involved.
1. Yirinda – Nhaya (To See)
Yirinda’s inimitable blend of ancient Aboriginal language and the improvisatory sublime pierces to the core and sidesteps all expectations. Leone and Pankhurst’s music invokes the sounds of thousands of generations of story and culture.
Fred Leone is one of the three Butchulla songmen. Butchulla country is in the Fraser Coast region including Kgari (Fraser Island). Samuel Pankhurst is an internationally acclaimed contrabassist / producer known for his kaleidoscopic combinatorial harmonies and polyrhythmic mastery.
Often described as ‘holographic’ and at all times visual, the duo’s sound is a result of their willingness to be guided by the ancient stories of Fred’s old people. Leone and Pankhurst cast their lines far away from the dogmas, presumptions, and conventions of Western musics.
Yirinda means ‘Now’ in Butchulla language.
“This track was made very, very quickly. Usually I would play Double Bass, but on this occasion I decided to go with the Korg Mono/Poly instead simply because I didn’t have to get it out of the case. The arpeggiator in the Mono/Poly is a lot of fun and you can get some great basslines happening with the 4 voices, so that came first. Fred came into the studio the day before this was due and recorded the vocals which I then took away and sent out to the old Roland Chorus Echo.” – Sam Pankhurst
Voice – Fred Leone
Synth – Samuel Pankhurst
Produced and mixed by Samuel Pankhurst at Poverty Castles studio.
2. Alex Macfarlane – A Chain Of Suspicions
Alex Macfarlane is a person who makes music in his spare time.
“This song was recorded very quickly one night after work. I used a Roland Juno 6 and a Vermona PerFourmer to make the sounds, neither of which I am very good at using. I recorded it on my Tascam 424 mkiii. I think it is a bit cheesy and uneventful but also nice. I programmed the melodies and then sat there and listened to it play itself, occasionally touching a knob or fader, and that is what you’re listening to now. The title was lifted from a book I had read around the time of recording … it was stored in the notes on my phone to be stolen at a later time, now is that time.” – Alex Macfarlane
3. Chloe Alison Escott – Stranger Than Death
Chloe Alison Escott is a singer-songwriter from Hobart, Tasmania. She is best known for fronting exploratory post-punk duo the Native Cats, but she has been writing and releasing solo work since 2002. Her new album, Stars Under Contract, was recorded start to finish in one day in February, and features only her voice and piano, placing more focus than ever before on her imaginative, incisive, and often dryly amusing lyrics. It is due to be released by Chapter Music later this year.
“I started writing this song when I saw heavy rain evaporating instantly on halogen lights along the Hobart Rivulet, and the rest of the lyric rolled out from there. Most of all it’s about gender transition – there’s even a quick reference to an infamous, long-discredited online test for transsexuality – but if you want to interpret it as a prediction of pandemic isolation life I won’t stand in your way.” – Chloe Alison Escott
Written and performed by Chloe Alison Escott
Recorded by Evelyn Ida Morris at Rolling Stock Recording Rooms, Collingwood
Produced by Evelyn Ida Morris
4. Fia Fiell – Amend
Fia Fiell is the moniker of Carolyn Schofield, a Vietnamese-Australian composer, pianist and performer of synthesiser-based ambient and experimental electronic music. Drawing on her classical training, Carolyn performs as a keyboardist on multiple synthesisers, playing and processing them in real time to create otherworldly and unsettling soundscapes. Wielding an improvisational, elastic approach to time and rhythm, she creates deeply evocative and arresting electronic compositions that feel as powerful and confronting as they do warm, organic and intimate. With album releases on Nice Music, Carolyn has performed at festivals across Australia including Dark Mofo’s Laterne, Inner Varnika, Freedom Time and Open Frame: Room40, and she has been commissioned as a composer by the Melbourne Recital Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne and Play On.
“6 years ago, while waiting at work for a piano student to arrive, I improvised a piece on piano with the muffling, ‘practice’ pedal on, so that I couldn’t be heard playing from outside. I recorded a voice memo which sounded a lot like this, but it never seemed like the right time to record a simple piece for piano until now. It’s really different to all the other piano music I improvise, which is a lot freer and weirder, perhaps. There’s something really special about the sound of a piano with the practice pedal on though, and this music wouldn’t have made sense without it. I recorded the track at home one night, around midnight, with some cars going by.” – Carolyn Schofield
5. Sarah Mary Chadwick – Sit Down and Pour
“‘Sit down and pour’ was inspired by a J D Souther song called ‘Jesus in 3/4 Time’ that Esther Edquist (Sweet Whirl) did a performance of just for me at my house a few years ago. I really loved it and wanted to have my own version of that type of song to play.” – Sarah Mary Chadwick
6. Ela Stiles – Silence
Ela Stiles is a Melbourne based musician, singer, songwriter and producer.
“This song was initially written as a pop song but has been re-worked on harmonium to create an alternate version.” – Ela Stiles
7. Letraset – Zee Zee
90s recording from Nicole Thibault and Julian Patterson, both of Minimum Chips
“Letraset was a duo between myself and Julian Patterson and we recorded this song many moons ago to tape and I think Julian made little loops with the tapes to do the overdubs – no computers were happening back then, we’ll not for us anyway” – Nicole Thibault
8. Punko – Plus Minus
Punko is the solo project of Liv Jansz, played live with Coco Aboukhater and Chad Chan. A contemporary mix of pop, electronic and ambient sounds, Punko is an expression of bent-femme energy, growing pains and visions of mixed up futures.
“This song is super special to me. It’s a sad song that I wrote at a time when I was grieving and afraid of
becoming alienated from loved ones. It’s a few years since I wrote it and the person that I was scared of
losing never left me- so in the end this song reminds me of one of the most important relationships in my life
and a bond that was lucky to survive a pretty hectic time.” – Liv Jansz
Written, performed, recorded & mixed by Liv Jansz
9. R. Edwards – My Career At Home
Solo project for Rupert Edwards of Dick Diver
“All I remember about making My Career At Home is that it was recorded in the depths of the Swedish winter of 2017 (hell), and that I heard it – pretty much fully formed – in my head beforehand. Weird!” – Rupert Edwards
10. The Green Child – Rats On the Roof
The Green Child is Raven Mahon and Mikey Young, who live in Rye, Victoria. They released a record on Upset The Rhythm in 2018 of songs written remotely when Raven lived in San Francisco. The songs were built from bits and pieces of Mikey’s unfinished songs and Raven’s experiments singing solo after previous projects singing with others. They now live in the same place and continue to make music together and have collected another album’s worth of tunes they hope to release in the near future.
“The instrumentation for this song was concocted by Mikey a while ago and underwent 16 different versions of vocal melodies and lyrics. Over the course of a year or so we churned it around in the house, reworking and rerecording it and having some friends come over and add their two cents. In the end, the theme remained loosely about conflict; inner, outer and in the domain of pro-wrestling and rat scuffles.” – Mikey Young
Written and recorded by Mikey Young and Raven Mahon
Bass Guitar: Arron Mawson
Drums: Shaun Gionis
11. Guy Blackman – Missy
Chapter Music founder and occasional solo artist.
“A demo of a song from a new solo album that will one day emerge from the mists like a magical ship from the future and the past all at once. The song is directed to well known pop star Missy Higgins, but I’m not exactly sure why and I apologise to her for any distress caused. Nicole from Thibault/Minimum Chips plays the long trombone notes, she said she didn’t think they fit the song very well but I insisted that they do.” – Guy Blackman
12. Gallery B – Nano Bookar
Gallery B is the contemporary electronic project of Emma Stevenson. The Melbourne-via-Brisbane artist presents a remarkable take of contemplation, zone-out and deep thought music.
“My track Nano Bookar comes from my unpacking of a live set that didn’t take place due to COVID impact.” – Emma Stevenson
13. Thomas Hardisty – Calm Night On Larne
Thomas Hardisty explores reflective moods varying in tone and primarily composed using a DX7 and Matrix-1000. Sometimes peaceful and calm, others desperate and sad, they are often rooted in time and place. With his 2019 debut LP, ‘Peace in the Plaza’, this locality is the Northcote Plaza and surrounding parklands as well as its changes through time. Peaceful mornings on ‘the hill’ looking out over Corhanwarrabul, the emptiness left by a clay mine and police brutality toward a teenager. Quiet and lonely, warm and comfortable.
“This project is intended to explore reflective moods through music, sometimes peaceful, sometimes uncomfortable or sad. Calm Night On Larne was the first song I wrote for this project after ‘Peace in the Plaza’ came out and the first song I wrote after moving house. It was an exciting move and the music was made in a time when we had settled in and were spending in extraordinary amount of time in the house due to Covid-19 lockdown. My moods shifted wildly during this period but the song reflects the grateful and calm feeling that comes with finding yourself in a stable, warm and homely new house, something I am privileged to have.” – Thomas Hardisty
Written, performed, recorded and mixed by Thomas Hardisty with a Yamaha DX7 and Oberheim Matrix-1000 during the lockdown period of 2020 (March to May).
14. David Chesworth & Bill McDonald – Greater Expectations
David Chesworth is a noted Melbourne composer and member of Essendon Airport. Bill McDonald is a storied bassist who has played with Max Q, Paul Kelly, Frente!, Stephen Cummings and many more.
“An unlikely performance. David was asked to perform on a weekly live Drive Time show on ABC Radio 3AR, which was the posh classical leaning station back then. The unlikely invitation, made at a time when ABC radio had daring local producers, pitted David (on vocals and a DX7 keyboard) and Bill McDonald (on bass) against an organist playing Bach’s toccatas and fugues on the chapel’s organ. The organist was hidden from view, as organ sounds wafted through the huge reverberant expanses of the chapel, as did the duo’s Roland 606 drum machine that was plugged into an amp. The recording was made onto cassette directly off the mixing desk. You will notice the reverb!
The musical juxtapositions were mediated by a live announcer who sat in chapel’s choir stalls. Wearing a thick coat (it was cold), the announcer would stand up in front of a mic making announcements about traffic and the weather into the darkening space. The Drive Time broadcast went out live at 5pm on a chilly winter evening.” – David Chesworth
Recorded live-to-air Trinity College Chapel 20/8/84