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Local Live And Underground 2020

Local live and underground album list 2020

2020 is over, but a handful of overlooked releases still occupy the blood cells that flow through the arteries of the music web. These are the releases that got away, deserve a second look, or were never found at all. Consider this list the rawer, more underground cousin to 20 Albums of 2020. In no particular order, introducing Discipline Mag’s Live, Local & Underground 2020. 

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DFFDL

Corella

DFFDL corella

 Anthony Cooley is a Melbourne artist and sole contributor to DFFDL. DFFDL’s 2020 release, Corella, meshes gentle waves of droning synth into the atmospheric nothingness that surrounds us. But is it relaxing? Let’s just say on a scale of comforting to harrowing it’s a subtle yet dramatic tilt toward the latter. 

 The continuous ambient drone is the kind of sound track you’d expect while summiting icy peaks. Complimenting not the journey, but the sight of your best friend being mauled by a polar bear. That stunned sense of helplessness and disarray provoked by unforeseen circumstance that has the ability to completely alter your life in a matter of milliseconds. Corella raises no questions and gives no answers. Though it does take you somewhere, it just leaves it up to you to find your way back. 

 

Lansanese

Total Anjink

Lansanese Total Anjink

 Some of Discipline Mag’s more ardent followers might remember Lansanese’s chaotic appearance from Jogja Noise Bombing Festival 2020: The Film released earlier last year. The part Indonesian part American group have harnessed said live energy into Total Anjink, managing to hold it together just long enough to put almost 40 minutes of grunge tinged noise rock to record. 

 Lyrically and musically, Total Anjink is about everything we could expect from such noisy practitioners. Messy guitar and screeching electronics are carried by deceptively sustained percussion while an undertone of provocative lyricism further disconcerts. Code switching between Bahasa and English runs rampant. Despite Indonesia’s unflinching cultural and underground integrity, it has a deep undercurrent of conservatism with one region (Banda Aceh) under Sharia Law, so this content is pretty wild by local standards. Tracks like Everyone Is Gay, Total Anjink (Total Dog), and Mencari Bapak Warung Obat Pria (Looking for the owner of the sex/viagra shop) are more than sufficient to set-off a fundamentalist or two. The mix of trash rock and smut being most easily comparable to Brainbombs, though the tone is more celebratory than overtly offensive. Standouts include Cuangcipit, Sahur, Take a Look-look, and the graphic cover art. 

 

Tzii & PGR 

Kecepatan

Tzii & PGR   Kecepatan

 Harsh, wild, and jittery. This live set includes a combo of Tzii from Belgium and PGR from Italy performing live from two locations in Indonesia. If these names look familiar, that’s because these two artists were also featured in Jogja Noise Bombing Fest 2020: The Film (the explosive ender belonging to PGR). 

 Tzii is a Belgian (former Frenchman) sound artist who not only produces noise and experimental music for passion, but also professionally for a living. PGR on the other hand is an Italian multi-instrumentalist whose cacophonous mesh of high frequencies should in no way be mistaken for lack of formal musical training or ability. In this live setting, Tzii and PGR jam out an ebb and flow that finds its groove in respectfully accentuating each other’s strengths through the shambles of sonic chaos. Both tracks start much the same – with harsh, fractured feedback that gives Tzii’s more sustained squeals of pedal noise the chance to dip in, dip out, and compete with his counterpart. PGR on the other hand produces savage, harsh, and unrelenting waves of static and loops that assault the listener and often take lead. 

 Side A was recorded in Malang and Side B was recorded in Ubud, Bali. This limited digital/cassette release serving as a memento of the tour and providing access to PGR whose lack of online presence makes him practically impossible to find if it were not for the Soundcloud link on this release’s Bandcamp page (listed below). And just in case you’re wondering, this is a different PGR to the one who collaborated with Merzbow in the 90s. 

 

ChronicleS

ASTŌDĀN

ChronicleS  ASTŌDĀN

 Death metal from Bangladesh. ChronicleS consists of five eager young men who are hellbent on tapping into the sound and dark thematic traditions of their genre. Morbid Angel, Death and many other death metal progenitors are what immediately spring to mind during the five tracks on this demo release. Opening with the acoustic and growl-laden, The Ritual Of Druj-Nasu, this murky opener is a fine set-up for what follows: intensity, super-fast riffing, incessant growls, and a tasteful cover of Hellhammer’s Messiah. Appropriately lo-fi and swimming in occult influences (explained better than I could in the Bandcamp link below), ChronicleS’ ambition and technical proficiency should serve them well in the coming years. In a setting where extreme and blasphemous music are met with more boundaries than support, the passion behind this work is infectious. Consult Discipline Mag’s escapade to Bangladesh for info on the band’s live show and the wider scene of extreme metal in Dhaka. 

 

Cementation Anxiety

In Continual

Cementation Anxiety  In Continual

 Cementation Anxiety play ambient drone from their home of New Jersey that mixes atmospheric ambience with thought provoking sonic excursion. On first impression, In Continual feels evocative of icy vastness, owing to its visual whiteness, opening track title, Thaw, and its album art. Such parallels are not merely superficial and drift their way into the music itself. As the title loosely implies, there appears to be a journey and narrative trapped within this release. With ethereal synths being a defining trope, processed guitar does make appearances on the tracks Halfhearted and He Forgets Not His Own, bringing a kind of dream-pop quality along with it. Track 3, Ava, functions as the harshest piece on the album. Washed with dense abrasion, a meandering synth chord does manage to wallow in the depths. Functioning as an interlude of sorts, The Locks Are Not Enough holds a kind of ritualistic death industrial atmosphere and seems to compliment end track, He Forgets His Own, with its cool synths and break out ending. Overall, In Continual flows nicely and is demonstrative of professionalism both in ability and production. 

 

Talk Show

The Death Toll of Democracy

Talk Show  The Death Toll of Democracy

 Subversive industrial metal that hails from the arid cesspit of excess often referred to as California. The work of sole member, “Argon Hellstar”, Talk Show is fitted out with drum machine and downtuned bass, making the influence of early Godflesh unmissable. Strategic samples of provocative news snippets drive The Death Toll of Democracy’s thematic motif of non-existent egalitarianism and growing social disparity, with the screamed and almost blackened vocals following a similar agenda. Tracks like Piss Earth and Talk Show Two exhibit the mutual benefits of mechanised riffs and electronics, while The Trial of an Irresponsible Hedonist and Carnage Star demonstrate Talk Show’s capacity for rhythmic electronics. A fitting vehicle to wage “audial ontological warfare on dominant ideologies.”

 

ReStruKture

Undeath

ReStruKture  Undeath

 Often abbreviated as RSK, this industrial project from Sydney has released a handful of short releases in their unique style and Undeath is three tracks of ominous industrial darkness. Producing vocals in their trademark whisper, this characteristic only heightens the atmosphere and blends with the instrumentation of lurking synth drone. While the three letter RSK moniker draws an immediate comparison to SPK, sonically this sits closer to the likes of Skinny Puppy’s Too Dark Park or Sleep Chamber’s more esoteric releases. Being the first release since the 2000s, Undeath sees RSK revitalised for the first time in over a decade.

 

NONTOPIA

Untitled

NONTOPIA  Untitled

 From Melbourne, the self-declared influence of early 80s British power electronics is a claim that’s worn on NONTOPIA’s sleeve. A creative and transgressive outing that harnesses the free form, lack of rules, and liberation that few other genres can.

RIYL early power elex

 

 

Senyawa & Stephen O’ Malley 

Bima Sakti

Senyawa & Stephen O’ Malley   Bima Sakti

 The seed that bore the fruits that are this release was apparently planted during a 2017 trip to Indonesia by Sunn O)))’s monolith of drone, Stephen O’ Malley (SOMA). While in YogYakarta, SOMA hunted down Senyawa’s Wukir Suryadi and Rully Shabara alas forming a union which later saw the three collaborate on a live performance in 2018 in Belgium. Fast forward to 2020 and the global community has finally been treated to the recording of this performance.

 An important footnote lies with Senyawa – whose home country of Indonesia is criminally overlooked in terms of cultural acknowledgement. Though the duo have been slowly amending this with increasing European performances (pre-COVID, of course), inclusion on the Red Dead Redemption 2’s soundtrack, and ever widening recognition in experimental music circles. SOMA’s endorsement and collaboration only further stimulating the duo’s upward trajectory.

 The release itself finds Senyawa and SOMA on equal footing; SOMA’s rumbling guitar being a constant presence, but falling short of taking primacy. Spine tingling Indonesian flute and ominous drone both open and close Bima Sakti on the respective and complimentary tracks, Dewi Hera parts 1 and 2. Sandwiched between lies Senyawa’s indecipherable vocals, ranging from low and buried croaks and moans through to what can sound like the ramblings of a nonsensical street-preacher (even fitted with manic laughter of self-approval). Over foundations of guitar and voice, traditional Indonesian string and wind instruments are scattered throughout, guiding the tracks through their characteristic misuse. Meditative and introspective, Bima Sakti showcases the dynamic qualities of the parties involved, all of whom more than capable of destruction, harmony, and tension in its various forms. Take note of Senyawa’s upcoming album Alkisah and its democratic release campaign in 2021. 

 

Nostrom

-2437333

Nostrom  -2437333

 Discipline Mag reviewed this in full. A glitchy work from the man behind the drone and noise of Worgor. 

Muddy Lawrence 

Dead in Japan

Muddy Lawrence   Dead in Japan

 Muddy Lawrence is the solo noise side project from Diploid’s Reece Prain. If our records are correct, Muddy Lawrence had four releases in 2020, one of which, Rapidly Increasing, was discussed in this Discipline Mag interview with Reece from April last year. As Rapidly Increasing has already been discussed and in the interest of avoiding favouritism, I have just chosen one release to be featured here – the live album Dead In Japan because I think live albums are pretty sweet. 

 Clocking in only shortly over 10 minutes in length across three tracks, this release is discreet by both stature and sound. The opening track’s quiet intro allows enough space for a confusing mix of Japanese room chatter and samples to flow into one. Track two gives a little bit of guitar (hinted to be part of ML’s upcoming set at The Last Stand on 29 Jan 2021) and track three is 30 seconds of what sounds like secretly recorded audio of a girl singing. 

 

Dusk 

Black Moon Tapes

Dusk   Black Moon Tapes

 Since discovering Pakistani doom metal band Dusk in a bonus section to VICE’s Guide to Karachi (2012) I’ve been kind of obsessed by how agreeable art is expressed in different contexts. Throughout that film, it seemed like the only local who made any sense was the one who had rebelled against societal conventions. Becoming a lifelong Dusk fan, the release of Black Moon Tapes, a collection of two unused demos recorded in Singapore in 2010, has been warmly welcomed. The two tracks here appear to depart from the traditionally doom content of Dusk. Instead, we get death/thrash/rock’n’roll inspired by the likes of Dead Moon. Track 1 Soul Sabotage is all guns blazing thrash attack. Track two Age of Intellect takes far more time to exploit its intro before descending into speed metal mayhem. I speculate that this release is symbolic of more things to come from Dusk in the near future. 

Listen to Black Moon Tapes HERE 

Watch Dusk’s Babar Sheikh play tour guide in Karachi

 

Bastard Noise

The Birthdays Continue…

Bastard Noise  The Birthdays Continue…

 Work from Eric Wood seldom disappoints, and this low-key live release is of no exception. Credited to Wood and Saira Huff, Wood’s opening speech about artistic violence and human love is a rather uplifting sentiment. Though warmth and fuzziness are only short lived as Wood’s call to Bastard Noiseeeee becomes an incitement to the sonic violence he’d previously referenced. 

 Soft, yet antagonistic electronics rise before pedal squeals welcome Huff’s screams. Riding this formula out for 8 minutes gives way to track two, What Will, which includes Wood’s distinctively deep growls before static abandon subsequently takes the reigns. Swirling feedback and the rising presence of background haze carry track 3, Seeking Speaking, into the closer, Continually. Continually is a track that’s especially prone to breakouts and revels in doing so, closing the curtains at a height of chaos, mess, and unpredictability. The audience give the release’s title some context by wishing Happy Birthday to an unknown recipient at the close of the set. An uncommon mix of brutal noise and humane sentiments.

 

Vault Deprogrammer + Brown Piss 

split tape

Vault Deprogrammer + Brown Piss   split tape

 This is one vile piece of racket. With 18 contributions that only once surpass a minute, Vault Deprogrammer is like having your face jackhammered while being engulfed in the violent hiss of a gas leak. Tracks like Rigorous Defecation, Effervescent Excretions, Uninspirational Urination, and Horrendous Secretions are a nice compliment to the occupants of Side B, Brown Piss. Brown Piss exhibit four unrestrained tracks of harsh noise and processed screams. While Brown Piss has a reckless amount of miscellaneous releases to their name, this is the first outing from Vault Deprogrammer who are disguised by pseudonyms, but are suspected to share members with Melbourne’s Whitehorse. 

 

Uboa 

The Flesh of the World

Uboa   The Flesh of the World

 With her continued adoration from “the internet’s busiest music nerd”, Anthony Fantano, Melbourne’s Xandra Metcalf (aka Uboa) appears to be living every contemporary musician’s wet dream. After a glowing review of The Origin of My Depression on Fantano’s theneedledrop YouTube channel, Uboa’s deeply tortured and personal brand of noise music has been enjoying some much-deserved time in the spotlight. 

 On The Flesh of the World there is a noticeable shift toward more synth orientated sounds that take prominence over the shattering noise we may have come to expect. Exsanguination opens the EP with a harmonisation of synth and vocals that float their way into Inside/Outside. Flexing vocal abrasion and cynicism with ambiguous synth passages, it rounds out with a subtle crackle of noise. God Unbounded is a memorable and structured track that is perhaps best defined by its chant, “I hate you, god”. Concluding in a manner not dissimilar to its introduction, the closer/title track’s dreaminess is eventually overridden by its rising tension. Self-declared as “less ambitious”, it seems even this slightly more measured release wasn’t sly enough to escape Fantano’s attention as it made his list of top 15 EPs from 2020. All mentions on theneedledrop are listed below:

Review of The Origin of my Depression 

Best albums of 2019 

Roasting Your Top Albums 

Best Eps of 2020 

Listen to The Flesh of the World

 

Torturing Nurse

Live Perfomance [PMM Live Series Vol. 1]

Torturing Nurse  Live Perfomance [PMM Live Series Vol. 1]

 China’s premiere noise artist, Torturing Nurse, has A LOT of releases. In fact, the array of splits, comps, and CDrs is so vast that not even Discogs can be trusted to keep tabs on his work, instead relying on a self-updated Google Doc (Available here). Formerly a group but now the solo endeavour of sole-surviving member, Junky, I have decided to include only 1 of Torturing Nurse’s supposed 25 releases from 2020. This release was chosen for a few reasons: because I have a soft spot for live albums, for being first cab off the rank (Vol. 1) in an apparent series of live albums, and because I believe this is the first live album I’ve heard that was recorded in mainland China. 

 Speaking to its place of recording, 6 of the 7 tracks were recorded in Shanghai between 2016 to 2019, with the last track performed in Barcelona. Predominantly coming from China’s financial capital, it’s interesting to focus on the audience reaction from crowds who are from a city that does have an underground, albeit not a very large one (and notably smaller than the capital’s). In general, these tracks sit comfortably around a level of quite to very harsh on the noise spectrum. There are plenty of loops and pedal noise but also a drum kit in some tracks. When apparent, the vocals are a (figurative) sight to behold, often comprising of unhinged explosions of grunts, noises, and non-lingual communications. There is a sense of free-form primitivism in these tracks, like these ideas had the smallest of planning and the highest degree of exploration. It’s these qualities that are among the most appealing for Torturing Nurse – the sheer excess and total lack of boundaries that are forever disregarded. 

 

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Categories
Interviews

Cassettes In The Age Of Digital – A Chat With Tape Label Minimal Impact

Minimal Impact Label
Minimal Impact Label

 Minimal Impact is a cassette label from Brisbane, Australia. Discipline Mag had a chat with Tristan of Minimal Impact on the cassette economy, cassette tech, their process, and the correlation between mechanised music formats and industrial/noise. Read on for the trials and tribulations of running a tape label in the digital age.

Hi Tristan, thanks a lot for taking the time to speak to Discipline Mag. What kind of music does Minimal Impact release and what are some of your current projects with the label? 

 Firstly, I would also like to take a moment to clarify the branding of this label / project. Since 2018, the label has operated as simply Minimal Impact​​, having dropped the adjunct Noise ​​from all subsequent communications (it still exists in some online URL’s). Similarly, to effectively bolster a sense of authority and to differentiate it from any other existing online profiles, Label has been added to the Instagram profile, which was started in early 2020. Officially, the label is simply Minimal Impact. 

 The label operates on an ad-hoc basis to release so-called extreme, difficult or experimental music. The main focus is on noise and avant-garde electronic music. However, we have also released demo tapes for black metal and grindcore bands. It started out simply as a platform to release or historicise my own recordings, but I have increasingly been working with other recording artists as well. 

 Primarily my interest is in harsh noise and industrial music. Recently I have released tapes for Strangler Fig, sherman & field, Eco Terror, and Tiles, which are all noise or industrial projects from around the country. I have also formed a relationship with Brian who operates Shrouded Recordings over in Oregon in the United States and have released one EP and one split for his harsh noise project SBTDOH

 Another recent milestone has been the two Hinterkaifeck demos. Working on and off with drummer E. has been a pleasant experience overall. Aside from perhaps one or two other projects, the recent re-issue of their demo Kak will likely be the last guitar / drum based release for the label. 

Minimal Impact

What inspired the birth of Minimal Impact and why did you decide to take the route of being strictly cassette releases?  

 As mentioned before, the initial drive came from releasing my own recordings. It’s easy to create your own platform with all the tools available to young or aspiring creatives, however creating any sense of success is another. Short of simply uploading tracks to Bandcamp or Soundcloud, creating physical releases is a good method of giving agency and networking a project. 

 The primary interest in cassettes comes from a retrospective look at music history/industry. Yes, there is a nostalgic interest having grown up to a degree with the medium, however there is as much an idea about pastiche and medium specificity woven into the releases. The very nature of recording is often one of retrospection and divergence, and I think cassettes have historically been used to exemplify this (see all rhetoric about tape hiss, Nth-generational copies, “dubbed from master tape”, etc). This experience can be equated to a kind of semiotic violence, as there is always damage or loss involved. Original audio and visual content are reproduced, and a degraded experience is distributed in its place. 

 Secondly, the label isn’t strictly a tape label. Early on, there were a few digital only releases which have since been wiped from the web. There are also some plans to work with CDr, and I have also produced editions of screen-printed t-shirts and other merchandise. There is a focus on upcycled tapes which has come about as a reaction to the proliferation of new cassettes being produced and utilised by supposedly DIY or underground type labels, as well as the whole clean-cut Internet aesthetic thing. 

Many observers would likely be under the impression that the central technology to your label (tapes, tape players/recorders etc) is diminishing. Would you agree? How do you adapt your practices? 

 I am not sure I would be able to give an objective answer to this. Within my own observations over the past four years, I have seen many more labels appear from apparently nowhere. Similarly, given my specific practice of using upcycled cassettes, I don’t have as much insight into industry or cassette production, and can only comment on discussion I have seen online or heard from peers. There have been supply and demand issues for cassette tapes on and off in the US for a few years now. Occasionally you will see certain labels or bands unable to meet a scheduled release date, as there has been some issue down the supply chain. This is yet another more pragmatic reason why I have decided to go for the upcycled method. 

 In Australia, there appears to be many options for recording artists who want to have their product released on tape, so I don’t think that the medium is diminishing at all. Perhaps what is lacking is accessible and skilled repair services for decks. I’ve had decks repaired at a couple of places, and the service has been great, however there also appears to be some issue with sourcing parts. The most common issue with cassette decks is replacing the belts. With certain decks, this can be quite tricky, as they haven’t always been produced with repair or service in mind. I have been lucky that most of the decks I have bought have worked, however I also service them once a year or so to keep them in working order. 

What are some of the trials and tribulations you face with Minimal Impact and how are these unique to the cassette only format? 

 While perhaps not unique to the format, producing tapes in real time with the equipment I have poses some quality control issues. Since mid 2018 (around the time of the first Enjoy Our Last Century on Earth rehearsal tape), there has been more of a focus on accessibility and quality control. Part of this quality control is making sure that release statements are consistent and comprehensive, and include information about the edition number and medium, (new old stock, or upcycled). Generally I will have some preliminary statement sent to distributors and posted online which includes this, and then a full statement once the tape is fully released. 

 There is also the issue of sound. More recent batches have seen editions of upwards of thirty hand-dubbed upcycled tapes. When dubbing to older ferric tapes, the metal oxides will have likely worn with use, so don’t always hold sound the same as newer less played tapes. 

Furthermore, in an effort to provide better overall consistency and homogeneity, sticky cassette labels are used on all tapes. As the spindle holes are all hand cut, they still retain an element of the handmade. Perhaps eventually I will use pre-cut tape labels, but for the time being am happy using full A4 sheets. 

 Another issue I am facing is growing the label with my current methodology. Every tape I have released has been hand dubbed and hand assembled. With twenty-five titles under my belt, I have hand dubbed over 600 individual cassettes since the label’s inception. Of course, I’d like to increase the runs of each release to better promote certain bands, so this would mean sourcing larger quantities of cassettes. My current method involves searching local op-shops, classified listings and online marketplaces for tape lots, but this can obviously be quite hit and miss. 

Has 2020 posed any major disruptions to the label? 

 Definitely. Coupled with a few significant challenges in my personal life, the foreseen trajectory of my labels activities has taken a significant hit. In some ways this has been my most productive year, in others perhaps not. Initially, I had wanted to focus plenty more on booking shows locally and interstate, as well as distributing international releases. The live context is something I really value, as it adds to the complexity to a given project. Due to many restrictions on the number of possible attendees, many venues had closed for early to mid 2020. As of writing this (October, 2020), there are a number of venues which are slowly opening their doors, and ‘things are starting to happen’ again. I was given access to a creative space / artist workshop in September, where I booked Blunt Force Head Trauma and Brackish to debut their projects in a live context. The turnout was great considering everything. There are also another one or two shows which I am involved with to some degree, however these will again likely be last minute things, as my rate of communication and overall productivity has definitely slowed. 

What are some advantages you think you have over labels that release on various formats? 

 The main attraction for me and I suppose others would be affordability. Per unit, cassette tapes often do cost more than CD’s, but I can definitely make a small profit or at least break even over a long enough period of time, with the right kind of promotion. From a consumers’ perspective, I would also prefer to purchase a cassette from a band that may or may not quite have it all​​, in some respects. I do like to support other creatives when possible, so the $5 tape at a show is the perfect way to do so in the fledgling stages. An act which may not have the best technical ability or image, somehow, I feel can be more appealing on tape. This, however, can obviously lead to greater quality control issues, like a project appearing to be going for quantity over quality, if they release many small runs of different recordings, or one or two sub-par recordings at high volume. 

 There’s also a kind of self-aware or ironic elitism about it which I enjoy. Tapes are fundamentally flawed – they can sound good, but are never or rarely ‘audiophile’ quality. To me, they’re great commentary on the music and merchandising industry. Seeing a band live vs on record, highbrow vs lowbrow, etc. They can encompass all the dualities, depending on how you want to interact with them. 

There is a distinctively mechanical element to the cassette tape and this history is not unprecedented – I point to Kraftwerk’s emphasis on trains and industrial music’s theme of mechanical production. Have these ideas, or anything similar, filtered through to Minimal Impact’s cassette only mantra? Do you feel that there is a natural complement between the genres Minimal Impact works with and the cassette format? 

 This is an interesting take, and not one I had consciously considered. Increasingly, I have been working with recording acts whose primary means of production are mechanical as opposed to digital. Mechanical here in the sense that they use hardware. I suppose this is a quality which I have subconsciously wanted to work towards. Much of my earliest work with noise as a genre was with software, however even then I knew my interests lay elsewhere with the physical. 

 On a number of my own projects, I have utilized field recordings. These imbue the noise with certain qualities of the ‘real’, and depending on how they’re treated, can critically say something about the subject. For example, my solo recording moniker, Tiles, has a loose focus on psychogeography and the narratives which can be embodied when physically occupying geographical space. In my opinion, this is the project which most explores or conflates these themes. 

There seems to be a resurgence in popularity with physical music, especially in regard to vinyl. From your observations, has this enthusiasm carried over into cassettes? 

 This resurgence appears to have been happening now for some time over the past decade, in parallel with the social media boom, and I believe we’re now looking at a bursting bubble. Many will point to things like Record Store Day or Cassette Store Day, the latter of which critically seems to be a way to cash in on the phenomena. 

 It seems that many novice acts prefer cassette over CD/CDr as the cheaper form of physical release. Looking at Discogs’s mid-year review from 2019 shows an increase of 8.35% in cassette sales from ‘18-’19, which is surprisingly higher than vinyl. Cassettes were also apparently the only format to have an increase in the number of database submissions, perhaps suggesting either an increase in new tapes being released or an increased interest in the format overall.  

What are some of the most inventive ways that you have seen cassettes be presented? What are some of your favourite special edition/limited release cassettes? 

 I am not much a fan of the special packaging sometimes associated with cassettes and will generally find it much more a turn off simply for the fact that I don’t have a way of accommodating them in my collection. Even releases in polybags pose a problem. I keep them separate in a box and will generally go to the larger portion of my collection when wanting to listen to a tape. I do like polybag releases, but will generally prefer a regular jewel case over these, unless there is some extra fantastic art work to go with it. Even then, it’s amazing what you can fit into a regular fold out j card. 

 As far as the most inventive ways I have seen cassettes presented, there are honestly few which come to mind for the above-mentioned reason. I was recently sent a copy of a tape by Betty White Noise, which comes in a sort of plastic mesh similar to the kind used to bag fruit, then housed in a single protective polystyrene corner. The mesh also appears similar to fishnet stockings, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there is some stocking fetish themed HNW project out there which has made this connection already. 

In a similar way that audiophiles can be very particular about their turntable set-up, are there any kind of rituals, specific set-ups or quirks to your sound system? Further, what do you recommend to get the most out of a cassette listening experience? 

 My personal listening set up is quite standard. My dubbing set up consists of five decks chained in series, with the recording volume adjusted at each stage accordingly. When listening back to any tape, for either personal reasons or when doing quality control on label releases, I will always use either my Teac A-105 or Sony TC-W345 through a stereo receiver with whichever set of speakers I happen to have. At the moment I’m using the Sherwood Piccolo 4 Bookshelf speakers, however also have another pair of unbranded vintage floor standing speakers which have some great tone. 

 Generally I consider the ‘proper’ way to listen to a tape is the way it comes from the label/artist, ie. no EQing or adjusting of the bass or treble. However, I would really like to invest in a full home stereo equalizer just to make some of the bare bones tapes I have stand out a little. 

Whether locally or further afield, who are some labels that excite you right now? 

 Locally, I have been following Essential Minerals for a little while now. Along with the affiliated live demonstration/booking initiative A Natural Low. They are a well-established group of individuals who have been practicing experimental and audio-visual actions in the local context for many years now. Recently I was invited to participate in the group exhibition “The Allure of the Unaesthetic Discord,” a demonstration of sound and sculpture evolving over three weeks in September. Documentation of this can be found online. 

 Elsewhere in Brisbane, the burgeoning imprint Blackout has released some small-run tapes and CDrs which are as much interesting as they are enigmatic. I have just received the most recent couple of releases in the mail, so am eagerly awaiting an opportunity to check them out. Similarly, Tommy Gun (Tom Miller) has been consistently releasing quality noise for years through Head Tapes and Magik Crowbar, apparently having recently reanimated the latter for a new Psychward CDr earlier this year. Under the Sign Records has also released some very solid noise and power electronics in the past couple of years, check out Bret Parenteau’s Sick with Power CS. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

 Minimal Impact has just released three new cassettes by SBTDOH / TILES, Hinterkaifeck, and sherman & field. The latter are dear friends of mine who produce exploratory ambient electronic music, which ranges from soundscapes to techno. Hinterkaifeck are a great black metal duo who seem to have been doing quite well for themselves since they formed about a year and a half ago. The SBTDOH / TILES split has been a long time coming, and is I believe a great example of the short-form noise tape. It utilizes tapes which have been cut too short for any other releases, so the recordings have been quite considered and made to fit. 

 I also have live and rehearsal material from the industrial and harsh noise projects Blunt Force Head Trauma and Enjoy Our Last Century on Earth in the works. I am in talks with Johnny Cyrus and His Band of Ghosts about ‘releasing something,’ as well as potentially a few other yet to be confirmed projects. 

Thanks again for your time. 

Keep up to date with Minimal Impact via Instagram, Bandcamp and visit their web store:

Categories
Interviews

A Chat With Reece Prain Of Diploid And Muddy Lawrence

Reece Prain of Diploid and Muddy Lawrence
Reece Prain

While many of us may not be operating at peak productive capacity under the waning sense of purpose and financial catastrophes of COVID19 lockdown, Reece Prain doesn’t seem to have any qualms in bucking that trend. The seemingly endless list of genre descriptors attributed to his projects doing little to present the man as someone who likes to sit still. With a fresh EP to Muddy Lawrence’s name and Diploid’s latest release only a handful of months earlier, Discipline Mag had a chat with Reece about his latest releases, past and future tours, collaborations, and of course, el virus. 

Muddy Lawrence performing live
Muddy Lawrence

Discipline Mag: Hi Reece, thanks for taking the time to talk with Discipline Mag. Where abouts are you located and where are you from?

Reece: G’day, I’m currently living in Melbourne, Australia. I grew up out in Pakenham, which is like an hour or so south east from the Melbourne CBD.

DM: Your latest release under the Muddy Lawrence moniker, Rapidly Increasing, seems to overtly reference implications of COVID19. Was there any catalyst for this release pre-lockdown, or was it entirely conceived out of the pandemic?

Reece: The actual recordings were recorded sometime in 2018-2019. I have only just recently gotten a computer as I am now working from home, so I finally had access to the recordings and have been able to mess around with them. So yeah, I mainly put it together and mixed the audio in the first couple weeks of lockdown. Which is why it’s very much related to the pandemic.

DM: Track 3, Nymphicus Hollandicus, has taken its title from the scientific name of a cockatiel. Cockatiels being relatively common household pets, was this a comment on pet ownership and loneliness during lockdown? Or something else entirely? 

Reece: I called it Nymphicus Hollandicus, because there is audio of my partners cockatiels on the track. We usually take them on our exercise walk during lockdown, but really it’s not much of a statement haha

Muddy Lawrence Rapidly Increasing album
Rapidly Increasing Muddy Lawrence album

DM: The pairing of animal themes with noise music is a fairly strong trademark of Merzbow’s later releases and I read that some of your recent work has been inspired by him. Was this track a homage to Merzbow, or was the influence more unconscious? In regards to his strong views on animal rights and other matters, do you actively relate to any of his ideals? And thirdly, for anyone interested in Merzbow’s work, what is one release you would recommend? 

Reece: Merzbow and a bunch of noise musicians from japan (The C.C.C.C, The Gerogerigegege, Massonna, Otomo Yoshihide) are very much a big influence on me. The name title wasn’t really a nod at Merzbow, it’s a bit of a coincidence/unconscious influence. As for Merzbow releases, I like these three: Daham. Tomarigi. Pulse Demon.

DM: Despite being a ‘noise’ project, Muddy Lawrence has an interesting crossover with hip-hop. With artists like, say, Clipping, this isn’t entirely without precedent, but still remains pretty fresh. What influences from noise/experimental, hip-hop or anywhere else inform Muddy Lawrence’s sound?

Reece: In the past like 2 years or so I have really dived into the hip hop genre and can appreciate it a lot more than when I was a kid, and if I’m gonna do any form of hip hop, it might as well be within noise.

As I mentioned earlier a lot of Japanese noise musicians influence ML, but I’m also influenced from a lot of the local noise/experimental musicians and the local experimental scene. 

DM: The artwork on Diploid’s latest release, Glorify, is a bright, floral collage on canvas, executed by yourself and Mariam (also of Diploid). As Rapidly Increasing has a similar aesthetic to it, was this undertaken in a similar fashion? And is there a thematic carryover within the artwork?

Reece: The artwork for Rapidly Increasing was a collaboration Mariam and I did many years ago, it was made for somebody as artwork for their release, which was never released. While working on Rapidly Increasing I found the image in my dropbox, and I don’t have a scanner, so I just used it. 

I don’t know how to scan or photoshop and I don’t want to bother too many people about helping me with artwork at this point in time haha

Diploid Glorify album
Diploid – Glorify

DM: A few years back Diploid did a small tour of Asia which included a show at Kuala Lumpur’s esteemed punk venue, Rumah Api. KL is a high-functioning city, but can suffer from being a little too clinical and doesn’t rank very high on any list of cultural capitals. Conversely, the fringe music scenes in places like this can sometimes feel far more dangerous, rebellious and devoted than in the West. Would you say this reflects your experience of playing shows throughout Asia? How did you find the show at Rumah Api? And what are some other notable shows did you play on this tour? 

Reece: In Malaysia and Singapore, the shows actually felt similar to home, like Rumah Api felt similar to that of Black Goat Warehouse, so it didn’t feel that different. 

But in Indonesia, things felt a bit different haha 

Our first show was just in a University amphitheater in Jakarta, there was a lot of bands playing (maybe like 10-12), and it went for hours and hours. People were going the extra mile for the scene. Our driver disappeared after the first show, so some guys at that show became our drivers for the next couple days, so, that’s dedication haha

My favourite show and place was Cipanas, which was a largeish town in a mountain valley in Indonesia. It was lovely, everyone was so friendly, and the show was a lot of fun! 

DM: Diploid was booked to play Fluff Fest in the Czech Republic in July alongside Integrity, whom you supported in February. For obvious reasons the tour has been put on hold, but was this second appearance alongside Integrity born out of a relationship you formed with the band during their tour? Or was it cleverly orchestrated long before?

Reece: It was a coincidence, I didn’t even know they were playing when we were asked to play, I found out when everyone found out about the line-up haha

DM: With regards to Europe, were there any other high profile shows you had planned? What cities did you want to play? And are you still planning to go ahead with the tour once things return back to relative normality?

Reece: We had a few shows booked in before deciding not to go, I was not aware of any others shows like Fluff Fest.

Yeah, we really hope that we can sort something out with the airline, we had already bought the tickets a couple months before lockdown, if we can, then we will probably go as soon as we physically can. But if for some reason we can’t rebook our flights, or can’t get a refund, we may not be able to go for a long long time, unfortunately.

DM: I loved Diploid’s collaboration with The Body at the Make It Up Club in January 2019. I know you also supported The Body on their tour, but how did this collaboration come about?

Reece: Pete from Whitehorse offered it to us. We’ve played with Whitehorse a lot throughout the years, and we were fortunate for him to think of us.

DM: The guys in The Body strike me as being pretty friendly and down to earth. What was it like working with them? And are the two bands still in contact?

Reece: It was a lot of fun, I’m a really big fan of The Body, so it was a bit like meeting your idol. The collab set was all improvised, so we didn’t really spend too much time with them before the set. Chip bought everyone shots, then as he was paying for it, he realised how much money he had spent. We then made a very small game plan, which I forgot, then we had to play. Not too much, mainly Instagram stories and photo likes haha

DM: Apparently Peter Hyde of Melbourne doom behemoth, Whitehorse, lent supporting vocals to Glorify. Which tracks did he contribute to and what led to his input on the LP?

Reece: He did vocals on the techno track (Grandiose Delusions), I thought his vocals would sound really good over the beat, and yeah, we’ve known each other for a few years, so I just asked him.

List of many genre descriptors used to describe Glorify by Diploid
Endless list of genre descriptors

DM: I have this imaginary tour in my head that includes Diploid and Full Of Hell on the same bill in Oceania. How can we make this a reality in the future? 

Reece: Get FOH to tour and ask if they’d be keen. We would.

DM: Any last words relating to Muddy Lawrence, Diploid, COVID19 or anything else?

Reece: Thanks for asking me questions! Stay indoors if ya can