Sometimes in my bleary-eyed wanderings through the internet or (sadly less often) a record store I’ll chance upon a local sound that is entirely remarkable, yet one that I’ve never so much as heard mentioned, be it in idle conversation, in writing, or what-have-you. And I get that pang of fear that I sometimes get when I lie in bed and think about unpublished novels – the “tip of the iceberg” heebie-jeebies – how many would-be literary classics lie, not only uncelebrated but unread, in someone’s grandparent’s dusty writing desk? How many Henry Dargers are there that we don’t know about? Not to suggest that the musicians I’m about to mention are reclusive, unsung, feverish types. Nothing so extreme. But I chance upon these musicians I’ve not encountered before and I get that pang of fear about how little I’m aware of. Then, however, there’s an easily equal pang of excitement in the knowledge that there are undiscovered troves of musical goodness yet in our Perthy midst. While I’d not be so condescending as to suggest I’m doing such soundmakers a favour by writing about them (heck, perhaps they’d rather I didn’t), I do feel the urge to do so – if only so that a few more people can partake in the pleasure I’ve gleaned from these tunes. Here’s four for now: four, which comprise neither the iceberg’s tip nor a valid microcosm of its submerged remainder, but simply chunks of super shiny ice selected more-or-less at random.
I’m not really sure where to begin with STRUNKDTS. Similarly, I’m not sure where the project began, or when. There’s no discography I can trace, but a poster from a gig in Dianella conveniently offers us a genre description: “futureprimitive deathjuke dronestep.” As per any convoluted genre name, chances are we’re meant to take that with a massive grain of salt, but it’s as good a starting point as I could hope to conjure. Strunkdts crystallizes the world into a sort of post-apocalyptic mess, one that is already upon us, both futuristic and savage. There’s a very strong visual art element to the project, which colours how one hears it. Collaged dialectics of digital detritus, images of war, fast food, mythology, pop culture, porn, weirdness – mashed up and aestheticized but never romanticized. These visual flashes of the world’s overwhelming, grotesque absurdity put you in a pretty warped headspace, to which STRUNKDTS’ music becomes a fitting soundtrack. At times there’s a kind of reckless abandon, embracing the electronic grotesque, as per latest track “TraSXh Humper” which has this cyberpunk oil-drum bonfire thing going on. Then there’s tunes like “False Idols,” boasting a bit more complexity, sobriety and funk. “Agnostic Clock” is great trash/gamelan cyborg dubstep stuff. But it’s not all ugly, heavily processed or sardonically stylized: “My Baby (goodbye),” despite featuring occasional screeching samples and noise inflections, is essentially a beautiful piano-driven composition with a slow-motion glitched dub beat that’d send a shiver down the spine of James Blake. If and when a full-length STRUNKDTS record descends upon us, it’s gonna be quite something.
Man, this is good. Coel Healy is a pretty prolific man-about-town, orchestrating the Weird Frequency project which captures local performances in high-quality video format, and putting on wonderful events at Salt Lakes and Karaoke Bars. But I was hitherto unaware that he makes cracker tunes as well. SHORELINES walks in the damp coastal footsteps of Ty Segall and a host of other scuzzy-vocaled, reverb-steeped garage dreamers. The plate echo and corrosion that smothers these tracks results more in a thrilling claustrophobia than in a sense of Western Australian vastness. Nevertheless, there’s something oceanic about it… and all that aside, these are simply good songs. My single complaint is that there aren’t more (songs). Fingers crossed for an influx soon.
So You Think You Know Perth Psychedelia? Maybe you do – I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve yet to encounter the enigmatic YESHE. However, I’d advise you get onto it as soon as you dare. Stirring up warped jams from the abyss, Yeshe describes itself as “a rotating roster of skinks,” including soundmakers from Salamander, Sacred Flower Union and more. “Crooked Loper” could easily be a lost gem of proto-electronic freakedelia from the BBC Radiophonic Archives, if it wasn’t a swampy one-legged dance-cum-seance beat spawned in an East Perth backyard. “Definitely In The Jungle Somewhere Crowded by Hidden Pumas” is a tragically brief dip into hazy exploitation-film weirdo-funk. “Releasing Withdrawn Urchin Spirits From the Dank Crevice” sounds exactly like a tune with that name ought to, but perhaps more violent. How could you not want to hear that? No new stuff from the Yeshe camp for a while now, but the existing material is enough to keep your brain sizzling for weeks.
Who is K WILSON? I have absolutely no idea. Last week I wrote about a menagerie of mystery musicians but rarely have I been so puzzled as with this particular sound weaver. K Wilson’s music is the sort that benefits from such ambiguity of origin; you don’t yearn for a persona to affix it to. On the contrary, these gorgeous glassy soundscapes seem self-emergent, or abiding, like mossy mountains, desert rays or salt-soaked breezes, unbothered by the caprice of man. I haven’t been listening to a lot of slow-burn ambient or drone music lately, and in honesty, Wilson’s ‘Otherworld’ record has just single-handedly reinvigorated my interest therein. Microscopic, cosmic, tectonic, glacial, humble, hauntingly beautiful. It’s worth mentioning that all of K Wilson’s album art is lovely, too: subtle, bucolic and evocative composites of faded snapshots. Not unlike the music itself. If you like the serene blissouts of local drone prince Craig McElhinney, give K Wilson a definite whirl.