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Deep Dive #30 – Various Artists “Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music: 1930-1973” CD/digital

The idea for this compilation grew slowly in the early 2000s as I sought out recordings of pre-mid-1970s music out of my own curiosity. These recordings proved hard to find, sometimes barely a rumour of their existence was all I had. Some clues led to dead ends or lost tapes, others to amazing discoveries. Slowly, a hidden history of Australian experimental music was revealing itself, and the results were like nothing I had heard before.

“Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music: 1930-1973” was released in 2007, and featured never-before released recordings of Percy Grainger’s Free Music Machines, Barry Humphries’ 1950s Dada band, graphic notation jazz chamber ensemble compositions by Robert Rooney, chance-based compositions of Syd Clayton, and the dizzying revelation of outsider electronic music pioneers like Val Stephen and the 1930s proto-musique concrete composer, Jack Ellitt.

Volume 2 followed a few years later, continuing the story from the years 1974-1983, covering experimental composition, the fringes of early post-punk, and early industrial and dark wave.

Australia has an apparent tendency to forget it’s history; these documents seek to remedy that.

Use the code ARTEFACTS for 10% off all the Artefacts series (expires 17 Aug 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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Deep Dive #29 – Will Guthrie “Sticks, Stones & Breaking Bones” LP/CD

Expat percussion/drum master now resident in France, Will Guthrie has spent decades developing an approach to drums and percussion that is equal parts subtle and powerhouse. He has released a varied range of albums, either in solo form or unique collaborations, and each seems to offer new insight into his rhythmic worlds. From his recent work with Ensemble Nist-Nah (the contemporary gamelan ensemble he leads), to far left field efforts with polar extremes like Jean-Luc Giuonnet to Rudolf Eb.Er, Shame File Music endevours to stock as many of these often-limited editions as possible.

For sheer physical impact, it is hard to go past Guthrie’s 2012 masterwork “Sticks, Stones & Breaking Bones”, a tour de force in rhythm. Side 2 is what drum solos were meant to sound like. “Sticks, Stones…” is available on CD, as well as the 3rd edition of the LP; only one copy of the vinyl left. If you don’t have this album, how serious are you really about the phenomenon of sticks hitting skins?

Use the code GUTHRIE for 10% off all Guthrie-related releases (expires 16 August 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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NEW RELEASE (sham122) Ad Hoc “Distance” cassette/digital – pre-orders and preview tracks now available

Shame File Music and Albert’s Basement present a reissue of Ad Hoc’s 1980 release Distance. Ad Hoc (James Clayden, Chris Knowles & David Wadelton, and at times David Brown) were an obscure Melbourne outfit of the late 1970s/early 80s, who stood curiously apart of from many of their more-storied contemporaries, but whose haunting ambient instrumentals sound remarkably contemporary four decades later.

Read more about Distance and Ad Hoc here

Distance, their sole release besides some compilation tracks, has been sourced from the original 4 channel master reel tape, and is now available digitally and on limited edition of 100 replica pro-produced cassettes with risograph cover – shipping early September 2022.

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OUT NOW (sham121) Astasie-abasie “Elliptical Gamelan” LP

Astasie-abasie‘s “Elliptical Gamelan” is out now on a limited edition of 150 vinyl LPs, with full colour reverse board cover and download code, also available digitally.

Ian Andrews, a consistent presence of original sound in Australia since the early 1980s, posts another missive from the micro-sound-world-made-big he introduced us to with last year’s “Molecular Gamelan” album (sham115). “Elliptical Gamelan” continues Andrews’ experiments in the magnification of the insignificant sounds of small metal objects such as washers, returning us to a world that conjures images of late-night rituals and funereal rites. The music is beautifully meditative and compositionally fascinating.

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Deep Dive #27 – Club Sound Witches “#freakinmeout” CD/digital

Club Sound Witches are Matt Earle and Nicola Morten. From their country NSW hideaway on the Hunter, they emit strange sounds that can alternatively be construed as dance music, electronic signal errors, or a combination of both. Their discography is lengthy and difficult to follow, usually limited edition releases, often untitled, and quickly out-of-print.

Shame File Music has released two CSW titles, both focussed on their unmistakable live sounds. The “#freakinmeout” CD (2020) consists of a live recording of duo’s transcendent 2019 live set at Melbourne’s Make It Up Club, backed with a lengthy studio track in two parts. Nicola’s ghostly vocalisations drift across both tracks, like Circe calling sailors into subterranean caves. CSW also share “Surface Noise Vol. 7” with Newcastle’s The Mermaids, this time with a more uncomfortable live set from 2017 (which overlaps with The Mermaids live performance as well). This limited edition CDR is sold out, but like the rest of the Surface Noise series, it is now available digitally.

Use the code FREAKINMEOUT for 10% off “#freakinmeout” (expires 27 July 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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Deep Dive #26 – Arthur Cantrill “Hootonics” LP/digital

With his wife and creative partner, Corinne, Arthur Cantrill is primarily known as a pioneer of experimental film making. Partly out of necessity, and partly out of his own creative curiosity and feel for sound, Arthur also created many of the soundtracks for Cantrill films. The breadth of his musical creativity across nearly five decades of work was collected in the Shame File Music release “Chromatic Mysteries: soundtracks 1963-2009”, with illuminating liner notes from Arthur and Warren Burt.

As startling as a lot of the works on “Chromatic Mysteries” are, Arthur’s 1970 soundtrack for the feature-length Cantrill film “Harry Hooton” is audaciously gob-smacking for its time. Released on limited edition vinyl by Shame File Music in 2014, “Hootonics” is a groundbreaking music/sound work created using a variety of musique concrete/tape techniques, collage, and treated recordings of early CSIRO mainframe computers. Hooton was a poet, futurist and thinker associated with the Sydney Push, and a formative influence on the Cantrill’s artistic view, as detailed in Arthur’s liner notes. This extraordinary soundtrack is a fitting tribute to Hooton, and stands as unique proto-electronic noise music decades ahead of its time.

Use the code CANTRILL for 10% off all Cantrill-related releases (expires 26 July 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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Deep Dive #25 – Music of Transparent Means “Chord from the Second Delphic Hymn/Emerging like an Infant from the House of Truth” LP

Music of Transparent Means was an evolving minimalist ensemble of up to 21 players led by Alex Carpenter, active in Adelaide from 2002-2007.  “Chord…” is a beautiful archival release from this time, recorded live in 2007, not long before Carpenter relocated to New York.

Big engulfing waves of music here, packing both an emotional and sonic punch with just a few intervals, but huge on texture and detail. I suppose it’s minimalism, or maxilimalism as well? Jon Dale’s liner notes sum it up as “joyous sensory over-stimulation…a kind of blissful, obliterated exhaustion…quite simply, a head-fucking blast to listen to and swim through”.

Also available is Carpenter’s solo “Excavation Patterns”, recorded a few years early and recently reissued on vinyl as well.

Use the code MUSIC for 10% off all Carpenter-related releases (expires 25 July 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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Deep Dive #24 – Rik Rue & Shane Fahey “Murmurs” digital/CDR

Following on from the previous Deep Dive on Warren Burt, we are now covering some major names in the last 40 years of Australian experimental music, as well as on an international scale. Rik Rue has been a key figure in Australian exploratory music since the early 1980s, with his many solo releases, as well as a member of Machine For Making Sense and collaborating with the likes of Tony Buck and performance artist Fifi L’Amour, amongst many others.

His cassette releases throughout the 1980s especially remain astounding listening today as a body of work that he dubbed (!) “pause culture”; cassette-based composition. Shame File Music have reissued a number of his key releases digitally as part of the Rik Rue Casssette Archive. A key collaborator of Rue’s throughout the 1980s and ‘90s was Shane Fahey. The formed the duo Social Interiors, but before the name came their first work on the  “Murmurs” cassette. Originally released on Rue’s Pedestrian Tapes label in 1986 (and reissued by Shame File Music digitally and on CDR in 2014), the main ingredients used are field recordings on East Coast Australian environments; birds, insects, frogs, but most predominantly water. Field recording as a compositional form is legion today, but Rue and Fahey’s mixes retain exquisite form and musicality that seems often lost on many practitioners, perhaps due to its subtlety.

Use the code RUE for 10% off all Rue-related releases (expires 20 July 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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Deep Dive #23 – Warren Burt “The Animation of Lists and the Archytan Transpositions” 2CD

One might say that Warren Burt needs no introduction, however given Australia’s propensity for cultural amnesia (particularly concerning music), let’s not take that for granted: Warren Burt has been a constant force in the world of Australian experimental music since his arrival from the USA in the mid-1970s. Educator, organiser, composer, performer, writer, advocate, mentor; Burt’s contribution to contemporary music in this country is immeasurable.

His recorded output is just as extensive; constantly challenging and pushing towards new forms and discoveries. His work with justly-intonated tuning forks stands out for me for its other-worldly beauty. “The Animation of Lists and the Archytan Transpositions” 2CD is a recording I regularly return to. The alunimium forks Burt uses are tuned to a 19 note scale derived from ancient modes created by Ptolemy. The overtones and harmonics created by the ringing tones of these forks ring around your room, completely enveloping you in their soundworld. This is perhaps Burt’s most astounding recorded achievement, and given his massive output, that gives you an idea just how special this is.

And listen here to a recent special programme on Burt and his music.

Use the code BURT for 10% off all Burt-related releases (expires 18 July 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.

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Deep Dive #22 – Jack Ellitt “Sound Constructions” digital/CDR

Researching the first Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music compilation revealed many startling hidden gems, none more so than the music of Jack Ellitt. Born in Manchester in 1902, his family settled in Sydney 6 years later. He met New Zealand artist Len Lye in 1920, and would become a key collaborator over coming years, composing music and designing sound for Lye’s nascent film experiments. Incredibly, we know now that Ellitt was developing a form of proto-musique concrete using film stock as early as 1930, long before the acknowledged work of Schaefer, etc. A range of circumstances, including what Ellitt perceived as a rejection by listeners of his music and a reclusive personality, led to Ellitt’s astounding work being forgotten or lost.

Much of Ellitt’s music was tragically thrown out after his death in 2001, but four precious works have been collected into the “Sound Constructions” CDR/digital release, including his mind-blowing early-1930s collage work “Journey #1), and his later-life tribute to Len Lye “Homage To Rachel Carson #2” (1987). As with a number of Shame File Music’s archival projects, extensive liner notes are available here.

Use the code ELLITT for 10% off “Sound Constructions” (expires 13 July 2022).

As always, free postage for orders within Australia over $100.