The Electronic Antipodean

The Electronic Antipodean

I shouted out ‘Australian music: go!’ to a room full of people.  They ignored me.  After I shouted it a few more times there was an unenthusiastic response: ACDC, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, and Rolf Harris…  

Later, looking into it a little deeper online, I was baffled to find quite a few acts that I had just assumed were American to actually be Australian: Knife Party, Pendulum, Madison Avenue… the list goes on.  Interesting acts in their own right certainly, but all musical anomalies.  They don’t really come together as a scene that you can identify as Australian.  Not that they have to, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the phrase ‘Australian music’ doesn’t summon any concrete ideas of what that means.

In recent years Australia and New Zealand actually seem to have exported more commercially successful comedy acts to the UK than they have music acts.  Tim Minchin and Flight of the Conchords are worthy examples.  That said, recently my iPod has become filled with more and more music from that part of the world, and my ears are happier because of it.

Ta-ku has flown relatively under the radar, despite his extensive volume of work and production credits on a variety of interesting work internationally.  I recommend checking the Day and Night EP, or the LP 50 Days for Dilla.  Flight Facilities did well with “Crave You” in 2010 but not much has been heard from them since, despite a few great releases, such as “Stand Still” at the end of last year.  Thrupence‘s Voyages EP remains, in my opinion, one of the best slept on releases of 2012.

Then, in 2013, Flume arrived with his debut album of the same name, followed by the deluxe mixtape version, both receiving rave reviews from the international music press.  Chet Faker dropped the Thinking in Textures EP in May 2013 to massive critical acclaim.  The two artists recently collaborated on a EP called Lockjaw, which is definitely worth a listen.  Azure Maya’s dreamscape indulgence The New York Diaries is another one to check out.  The list goes on again.

I’ve seen a load of different genre categories applied to these artists, but they never really seem to capture the sound.  Yet whether it falls closer to house or hip hop, or whether you call it EDM or electronica, it doesn’t really matter.  Maybe because of Australia’s distance from certain style epicentres like Berlin, Chicago, London and Brooklyn, its sound doesn’t get caught in dogmatic traps or attempts to pigeonhole a movement.  Instead, they seem to be drawing influence in a broad way, with aspects from all of these places noticeably making their mark.

Ta-Ku’s moniker is The GenreKiller.  The impudence of that aside, it does say something about his approach to making music that is refreshing and seems to apply to a lot of artists from Oz.

I think what I’m trying to say is that Australian music is like Swiss wine.  Bear with me.  Switzerland is generally associated with cheese and chocolate.  But, scratch the surface back and you’ll find they make some of the best wines in the world.

Flume, still relatively small in the UK, is shopping centre music in Australia.  Are we sleeping on what this part of the world has to offer us musically?  Swiss wine and Australasian music are not majorly exported, which is sad because they’re both great.  Go drink it.  Go listen to it.  Go.

Oscar Burton Xi