EG weekly music reviewsMusic
SOME KIND OF EDEN
Dear Time's Waste
AUCKLANDER Claire Duncan was a history student at university, and, as Dear Time's Waste, she's a history student, too. Her field of study is that once-mythical ''4AD sound'', the second DTW LP, Some Kind Of Eden, up to its ears in the influence of old This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins and Pale Saints albums. It's gothed-out pop music big on atmosphere, all syrupy sonics and echo to infinity; Duncan layering dangling guitars, rudimentary synths, cold drum-machine plod and high, eerie singing into tunes that swim through the shadows. ''Shut out the light/to stop the shaft of sun from showing,'' she sings mid-Curtains, a gothy genuflection to the glorious functionality of drapery. Across the LP's 45 minutes, all the multi-tracked moodiness can start to feel less like a misty fog, more like oppressive humidity; and the few blessed breaks from the dense layering double as the most impressive instants. The true standout is closer Body Back, which shows a stripped-down electronic essentialism that shows Duncan's learnt, too, from the teachings of Bjork.
OUTER CIRCLE MOVEMENTS
The Silent Titan
BARELY a year has passed since Blue Mountains producer and former Thundamentals turntablist Tom Charuk delivered his debut LP as the Silent Titan: For the Rest of My Days. Though an exercise in stepping out solo, as on this follow-up, Charuk's roll call of guest collaborators was impressive. Charuk is a talented, old-school-style producer, effortlessly fusing a fondness for post-doo-wop African-American melodic pop with weighted hip-hop. There's plenty of soul in Charuk's step, jazz in his vinyl collection and drama in his hefty plots. Early on, a flashing Zippo lighter replaces conventional hi-hats. In Direct Sunlight, where buttery crooner Jace Excell weaves magic, reverberating electric piano chords, reflective R&B vocals and slack handclaps suggest Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway or Australians Electric Empire are touchstones. Whatever the mood, it's impressive throughout as burnished trumpets and southern jazz-blues vocal snatches bump up against booming MCs and beats.
DEATH RATTLE BOOGIE
TEN years after blasting out of New Zealand with wildly exciting, growling tracks such as MF from Hell and Harmonic Generator on their self-titled debut album, the Datsuns have gone back to the drawing board - this time splitting their writing and recording time between Sweden (working with former Hellacopters frontman Nicke Andersson) and their home country - to deliver their best album since those heady early days. Guitarist Phil Somervell recently told EG the band was close to splitting after Head Stunts four years ago, but found dynamite this time around and Gold Halo, the monstrous Axethrower and Skull Full of Bone cast the quartet in a typically powerful, yet inventive frame of mind across 14 tracks. Opening cut Gods are Bored could be a comment on slugging it out year after year, but there's a freshness here that propels them well beyond a bunch of mates discovering rock'n'roll and into the realm of battle-hardened rock'n'roll soldiers. The Datsuns have always known how to deliver on stage, now they're at their best on their fifth studio album.
HEART & MIND
Ian W. Beer
APART from proud mums and forgiving mates, most people approach home-made records with a fair amount of trepidation. For anyone with a song in their heart and access to a computer with recording studio software, Ian Beer shows how to make a DIY record of which to be proud. As producer, Beer gives his gently rocking songs a clean, uncluttered sound. He's a first-rate guitarist, and his singing is expressive and assured. He's also made the wise decision of getting a few mates in to flesh out the material with bass, piano and percussion. He's clearly given these songs a lot of thought - maybe too much, as his earnest, seemingly introspective lyrics build a bit too much accumulated weight. There are miles of dark roads and broken white lines, a life examined and found wanting: ''I don't live any more, I'm just a shadow on the wall''. His most entertaining song, Five Minute Lover, is cheeky, poppy and fun. The CD is available through the Acoustic Cafe, 187 Johnston Street, Collingwood, or email@example.com
BARNEY McAll is one of Australia's most relentlessly inventive pianists, forever pushing the boundaries. Here he has assembled 15 soprano, alto, tenor and bass singers, all managed by Gian Slater, who did the choir arrangements, vocalists Sia Furler and Chris McNulty, alongside bass players Sam Anning, Chris Hale and Jonathon Maron, drummer Dan Weiss and Genji Siraisi doing the beat programming. McAll's piano work is superb - it's dreamy, sensitive and, on tracks such as Struggle Continues, enthralling. What's fascinating is the choir. The opener, SexMagikDeath, begins with a machinegun-like staccato beat from the piano. McAll and Weiss push the beat while the voices add wordless vocals. Halfway through the mood changes, slowing to a hypnotic feel, the choir turning to lyrics and sounding like it's in a cathedral. There's a similar device in the next piece Jazz Epidural, opening with a steady beat that has echoes of Africa. The highlight is the deeply evocative Nostalgia for the Present. Full marks for innovation.
SOUNDING a few decades older and a few lifetimes sadder than his 28 years, Willy Mason in his third album tells tales in a way that makes you feel ever so slightly guilty you're involved in another's complications. Taking up home once again in the roots corner, where country and folk cross the path of acoustic rock, Mason crosses his legs, hunches over his guitar and begins to talk to you. If you listen closely, you'll hear the whirr and fizz of electronic elements, the kind of thing producer Dan Carey is recognised for with his better-known jobs alongside Hot Chip, Kylie or M.I.A. Once you get past the opening song and its throat-clearing, echoey drum pads, that ''intrusion'', if you want to call it that, becomes less and less noticeable because Carry On feels more crumbly and natural than crisp and technical. It's not that you lose track of the desk instrumentations, but they feel like perfectly appropriate blurring of lines between town and country.