PODCAST. Out From Under #24 – Scattered Order & M-Squared (Part II)

In the second episode of a two-part Out From Under special, I talk to Mitchell Jones; founding member of both seminal Australian experimental band Scattered Order and the early 80s record label M-Squared which balanced the prevailing sounds of post-punk with lo-fi punk electronics and experimental explorations from a close knit community of artists.

We hear from M-Squared artists Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast, Systematics and Ya Ya Choral, along with Prod, A Cloakroom Assembly and Solipsik, the offshoot of renowned Australian industrial group SPK. We also pick up the Scattered Order story following the demise of M-Squared in 1984, and hear about their journey through the 80s and 90s, heading to an unexpected reformation seven years ago.

Originally broadcast on Resonance Extra, 8 September 2016.

PODCAST. Out From Under #23 – Scattered Order & M-Squared (Part I)

Whilst the legacies of post-punk, DIY electronics and proto industrial are widely known and documented in the UK and US scenes, their impact in an Australian context is less widely recognised. Bonding over the discovery of Cabaret Voltaire imports in Sydney record stores, Scattered Order formed in 1979 and gorged on a wide range of inputs to create a sound and visual aesthetic that was unique in Australia at the time. Together they also formed the label M Squared and fostered an impressive roster of bands such as Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast, Systematics and Ya Ya Choral.

In Part I of a two-part interview, I talk to Scattered Order’s Mitchell Jones about the early years of the band and the formation and impact of the M-Squared label throughout the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Originally broadcast on Resonance Extra, 1 September 2016.

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New Weird Australia Live Recording Series (Free Music Archive)

New Weird Australia has released a series of archive live recordings, exclusively via the Free Music Archive. The free download recordings, dating back to 2010 and 2011, are culled from New Weird Australia events staged during the period, and feature exclusive work from Ambrose Chapel, Axxonn, Forenzics, Scattered Order and Stitched Vision.

The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads, directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America. Inspired by Creative Commons and the open source software movement, the FMA provides a legal and technological framework for curators, artists, and listeners to harness the potential of music sharing.

Releases.

New Weird Australia – Scattered Order at The Excelsior

Scattered Order are one of the most unique bands in the history of Sydney’s experimental and electronic music scene – founders of the M Squared record label in the 1970s, a home for artists such as Systematics and Makers of the Dead Travel Fast, and a beacon for emerging underground artists around the country. Reforming their original line-up in 2009, I shot this video when Scattered Order played a set for New Weird Australia in January 2011 at the Excelsior in Sydney, in support of their new album, ‘Adjust The Terminology’. Joining them on stage was long-term collaborator and renowned producer, Shane Fahey.

Photos: New Weird Australia – Unpopular Music 2010

Photos by Paul Threthni from Unpopular Music 2010 at Red Rattler, featuring Thomas William vs Scissor Lock, Melodie Nelson, Stitched Vision, Mere Women, Scattered Order, TANTRUMS

Download a compilation of live recordings from the event at New Weird Australia.

New Weird Australia, Volume Four

(cross-posted from newweirdaustralia.com)

What’s in a name?

In attempting to find answer that question, and thus establish a title for this very project, there was a solitary guiding idea – that the artists shared a deep common bond, beyond just an experimental approach to music making. In their own unique ways, we believe that each artist on New Weird Australia shares a disdain for any cabals of musical ‘authority’, an irreverence to established industry etiquette, a rejection of art neutered for acceptability, and ultimately a dismissal of ‘rules of behaviour’ in contemporary music practice. Their music exists in an autonomous zone of their own construction, unburdened by any sense of what ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ occur.

In broader Australian culture, the comedic variant of this sensibility is often referred to as ‘larrakinism’ – characterised by the mischievous or outlandish ‘larrakin’, who gleefully flaunts regulations and standards set down by society. The nemesis of every po-faced ‘do-gooder’ in the country, the larrikin takes the piss, flaunts convention, and pushes buttons and boundaries with great abandon.

Although this action is universal, the word ‘larrikin’ is perceived as a quintessentially Australian definition, with roots as far back as the 1860s. In one of its earliest occurrences, the larrikin is beautifully cited as a “young urban rough”, although its lexicological roots suggest it was born of a conjunction between ‘leery’ (‘wide awake’ or ‘knowing’) and ‘kinchin’ (‘youngster’). Most of its recorded use in the late nineteenth century always seemed to involve both thievery and mischievousness.

Transgressions against boundaries or conventions, rejection of norms and standards handed down by an authority, all wrapped in a roughish youthful spirit – whichever way you cut it, the larrikin sensibility is writ large in New Weird Australia. No more so than in this particular volume – where Textile Audio takes both classical and operatic blueprints, and weaves them around found sounds and abstract electronica; Tasmanian duo Paint Your Golden Face rethink and reshape the fundamental essence of the male voice choir; Reunion Sacred Ibis cuts a sharp sheath through archival sounds in a spirited slice of plunderphonics; Gold Tango reinvent Kraftwerk with an unexpected tribal swagger; and Scattered Order stick two well-placed fingers up against the very idea of ‘heritage rock’, their original line-up reforming after over 25 years, with their innovative touch still absolutely to the fore – delivering an exclusive cut from their (very) long-awaited new album.

This entirely Australian larrakin paradigm – an irreverence to a learned authority, maverick thievery, a rejection of etiquette – it may help to explain why ‘New Weird Australia’ is ripped directly from ‘New Weird America’, a phrase coined by Scottish journalist David Keenan in 2003 to define a new breed of American psychedelic folk or ‘free folk’. Since then, ‘New Weird America’ has been used in a variety of ever changing contexts – cited in artandpopularculture.com as “[finding] inspiration in such disparate sources as heavy metal, free jazz, electronic music, noise music, tropicália, and early- and mid-20th century American folk music”. Any perceived rules of definition are clearly dubious.

‘New Weird Australia’ does what it says on the tin. It’s new, weird, Australian music. Thus, we felt compelled to appropriate (nay, thieve!) Keenan’s nomenclature for our own ends. Sure, it’s a bastardisation. Sure, it’s wrong-headed. But if in the rejection of a guarded sense of ‘what is right’, we put even more noses out of joint, then more power to us. And while the odd prude may cry ‘plagiarism’, they might well be missing the point.

Consider it even more broadly, reduce it to its simple acronym. The letters N,W and A. And, there once again, for a second time over, we steal where we shouldn’t steal from, we tread on toes that we shouldn’t tread on – in fact, we clearly reject any notions of what we should and shouldn’t do. An ideal I’m sure both the American freak folksters and the late Eazy-E would readily connect with.

New Weird Australia Volume Four, January 2009, NWA004

DOWNLOAD AT BANDCAMP

1. TEXTILE AUDIO, Some Kind Of Mininova (5:32)
2. PAINT YOUR GOLDEN FACE, Television Is About Picture (4:12)
3. REUNION SACRED IBIS, Sing It To The Mountains (2:11)
4. TANTRUMS, Beat The Happy Pavement (4:08)
5. SCATTERED ORDER MK 1, Ruined By Me (5:44)
6. ALISTER SPENCE TRIO, Two Halves Of The Moon (3:26)
7. SCISSOR LOCK, Codify (2:05)
8. GUTTER PARTIES, Sashi (2:15)
9. NO ZU, Lay Of The Land (4:25)
10. THE TOWNHOUSES, Jigsaws Under The Clouds (4:08)
11. SEAWORTHY, They’re Cicadas You Know? (3:55)
12. GENTLEFORCE, Our Last Day Together (4:30)
13. GOLD TANGO, Telescope (3:26)
14. ALPEN, A Meditation On Flight (3:16)
15. RED_ROBIN, The Surveyor (4:36)
16. AUTOMATING, When Use Becomes Abuse (9:19)
17. SILVER BULLETIN, Minding Time (4:13)

Compiled by Stuart Buchanan & Danny Jumpertz.
Artwork by Anna Vo, annavo.wordpress.com.

Click artist title for background information and links.
All music donated by the artists for use in this compilation only, all rights reserved.
All tracks previously unreleased, except: 6. from ‘Fit’ ; 8. from ‘Marooned EP’ ; 9. from ‘Graffiti EP’; 13. from ‘Gold Tango EP’.

New Weird Australia is a not-for-profit initiative designed to promote and support new eclectic and experimental Australian music. Our current projects include a free compilation series (available to download every two months), a weekly show on Sydney’s FBi Radio and an irregular program of live events. Contributions from Australian artists are welcomed and encouraged -submission details and terms can be found on the About page.


Cyclic Defrost “favourite of the series so far… some brilliant music from both known and unknown artists always lurking around the corner”

Now Like Photographs, Minneapolis – Record Of The Week “If you need a primer on what is fresh from Australia’s music scene, look no further than New Weird Australia.”

Electrorash “More eclectic, eccentric and often amazingly beautiful tunes … pick up the whole shebangabang for $0.00 AUD. That spells value in 4568 of the approximately 5000 recorded spoken languages known to linguists.”

Daily Beatz (on Tantrums from NWA4) “Could New Weird Australia be the Australian counterpart to Ann Arbor’s Ghostly International? Based solely on this song, I would say yes.”

Throw Shapes Interview

BACK CATALOGUE. Three Heads Meet Messmer And Koo Koo

Mitch Jones & Michael Tee stand as two of the key figures in the history of alternative music in Sydney. Together they founded M-SQUARED Records – home to a cluster of now seminal local post-punk artists such as SYSTEMATICS, THE MAKERS OF THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST, YA YA CHORAL, PROD and their own band, SCATTERED ORDER. Nearly 30 years after the fact, SCATTERED ORDER reformed their original line-up earlier this year, and started both playing live and recording once again. I was asked to DJ at their second ‘reformation’ gig with THE MAKERS OF THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST and A SLOW RIP last month – a gig which also represented one of the last live events at the Abercrombie Hotel in Chippendale before it closed its doors.

This mix is essentially my DJ set trimmed to a neat 43 minutes, and features Australia music from the M-SQUARED heyday (1979-1983), both from label artists and beyond. Witnessing this music now, some 30 years later, I’m not particularly aware of the impact that each artist or track may have had at the time, instead I chose to respond to the sounds that still have resonance today. Indeed, listening end-to-end to this mix, this feels like the start of a much longer continuum, and it becomes clear (almost immediately) that there are many current local bands and artists that – wittingly or otherwise – are fostering a unique Australian tradition that began over three decades ago.

Tracklisting:

  • Severed Heads – Introduction / 1982 [from Adenoids 1977 – 1985 Disc 4]
  • Systematics – … And The People Are Blowing Their Minds / 1981 [from Boxed Brownies]
  • Ronnie and the Rhythm Boys – Hey Joe / 1979 [from Little Bands EP]
  • Ya Ya Choral – God’s Buzzsaw / 1983 [from Such A Dutch Man]
  • Yclept Dinmakers – I Think A Shell / 1982 [from Klinger The Blowies]
  • Hiroshima Chair – Reset / 1980 [from Reset]
  • SPK – Mekano / 1979 [from Auto Da Fe]
  • Severed Heads – Food City / 1981 [from Clean]
  • The Limp – Rony Club / 1981 [from A Selection]
  • Essendon Airport – Runway Rock / 1979 [from Sonic Investigations (Of the Trivial)]
  • Microfilm – Summer House / 1981 [from From Belgrade With Love]
  • Prod – Fish Hook / 1980 [from More Songs That Will Never Be Released]
  • Negative Reaction – Untitled A01 / 1980 [from Negative Reaction]
  • Zyé yé yé – I Want To Live / 1981 [from Primitive Calculators]
  • Laughing Hands – Two / 1981 [from Dog Photos]
  • Severed Heads – Much About Bones, Hello Donald Merry Xmas / 1980 [from Adenoids 1977 – 1985 Disc 1]

New Weird Australia Podcast #2 – Scattered Order

From 2009-2012, the New Weird Australia Podcast featured selected interviews and in-studio recordings from my FBi radio show, as well as live performances from events, video interviews and more.

In this episode, from November 2009, Mitch Jones joined Danny Jumpertz and I to talk about the past, present and future of SCATTERED ORDER.

Mitch stands as one of the key figures in the history of alternative music in Sydney. Together with Michael Tee, Jones founded M-SQUARED Records – home to a cluster of now seminal local post-punk artists such as SYSTEMATICS, THE MAKERS OF THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST, YA YA CHORAL, PROD and their own band, SCATTERED ORDER. Nearly 30 years after the fact, SCATTERED ORDER reformed their original line-up, both playing live and recording once again.