MAGIC MIX

soundtracks . library music . exotica . easy

WEEK STARTING 15 Nov

Genre pick of the week Cover of What Rough Beast by Headland.

Headland

What Rough Beast

    Headland is a collective of Australian musicians that compose, record and perform soundtrack music for surf films in various forms. The group leader is Murray Paterson, an old surfer himself, who in between wrangling two red-headed boys, finds time here and there to record bits and pieces of guitarbased music. Mostly he heads to Nashuaville where his longtime colleague from a previous life in arts education, Les Dorahy, has set up a small recording studio in the old Booyong General Store, situated in the Byron Bay Hinterland. Whenever friends visit their part of the world, they drop past and join in. Most of the music remains instrumental but this new album is a collection of songs. One of Murray’s comrades from his days with Tex Perkins and The Dark Horses is Joel Silbersher. Joel has been a longtime Headland collaborator–playing bass and guitar–but while recording material for the new album, vocal melodies kept finding their way into Murray’s instrumentals. Soon there seemed enough of a coherent lyrical theme to build an album around. There’s a song about installing a dishwasher. There’s one about a soccer ball filled with blood, and one from the point of view of a lizard. The topic of love among the elderly gets a look in, and there’s a drone called Face in the Sky, which is about a face in the sky.

    There is some nice instrumentation touches here too with cello (Tahiti Jones), pedal steel (Danny Widdicombe), double bass (Melissa ‘Curly’ Hunt), violin/melotron (Amanda Brown – GO BETWEENS), percussion (Luke Peacock) and organ (Whitey White) fleshing out the core band of Paterson, Silbersher, accordionist Les Dorahy and drummer Brock Fitzgerald. During the recordings, a good friend of the band, Australian rock legend Spencer P. Jones sadly departed. One of his melodies and lyric was dovetailed to a Paterson instrumental and Ode to Death Trip became an emotional tribute to mark his passing. A couple of other covers appear on the album. There is a surprising, acoustic rendition of Motörhead’s Deaf Forever and a version of John Sebastian’s Darlin’ Be Home Soon. This last is a relic from 2007 when following a hard-drive meltdown at Nashuaville, the only remaining recording of a late night jam was an unedited headphone mix. It seems though, it was impossible to exclude this from the collection.

    There’s still enough of the spacious Australian land- and seascapes to satisfy fans of the previous Headland albums (sound/track 2013, Cosy 2015, True Flowers from this Painted World 2017), journeys through a sonic architecture centred around the motion of the ocean and it’s meeting with the coastline. But a narrative of loss and longing sits on the surface here: Silbersher’s voicing is an emotive thread that breaches at all the right times. There are references to the likes of Alex Chilton, Nick Drake and Daniel Lanois but Christian Pyle (Prawn & Spanner Studio) brings a sensitivity to the mix so that any references float rather than reveal themselves in bold relief. What Rough Beast marks the development of an ensemble and documents a sense of meaning embedded with the tone of place.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: A beguiling mixture of Red House Painters style expansive morose rock and brittle, jazzy acoustic stuff. Flickering guitar and soaring ambience bring to mind expanses of land and weightless dreaming. Thoroughly lovely and always surprising.

    Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss

    Old fat furry cat-puss

    Wake up and look at this thing that I bring

    Wake up, be bright

    Be golden and light

    Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing

    12th of February, 1974, and for an audience of small children at 1:45pm, a life irrevocably coloured by the wayward wonderings of one saggy cloth cat. Some 44 years later and Earth Recordings opens the door to Bagpuss & Co. once again, revealing for the first time the original music in all its newly-mastered splendour.

    The 32 tracks that make up the main body of the compositions are – like all good folk music – a patchwork of traditional pieces, half-remembered tunes and pure improvisation. It's testament to Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship that the recordings work so well, not only within the context of the television episodes, but as an album in its own right. Of the recording, Oliver Postgate (in his exquisite autobiography 'Seeing Things') says: "Between them Sandra and John could play every sort of instrument from a mountain dulcimer to an Irish fiddle. They knew and could sing every tune in the world and didn't bother with written music, except as a last resort. They were exactly suited to Gabriel the Toad and Madeleine the Rag Doll and in those roles were happy to play whatever music and sing whatever songs would be needed."

    Those songs manifested themselves as reworkings of familiar tunes ('I Saw A Ship'; 'Row Your Boat'; 'Bucket's Burning'), takes on traditional ballads ('Brian O'Lynn'; 'The Frog Princess'; 'Weaving Song'; 'The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket') and delicious flights of fancy ('The Bony King of Nowhere'; 'Turtle Calypso'; 'Uncle Feedle'). The counterpart to Madeleine and Gabriel's more polished ditties are the interludes from the mice; a raggle-taggle chorus that accompanies the creatures' efforts of help (with the mice once famously going on strike when they were not permitted sang as they worked). Again, Postgate muses: "Once I had worked out a few episodes I would make a very rough list of the bits where I though music would be appropriate. I would send it to [Sandra and John] to think about. Then we would borrow a fairly silent room in a remote house and, taking the various articles that we intended to celebrate with us, would spend a happy day with a tape recorder, thinking up and recording whatever songs and tunes came to mind."

    The outtakes provide an intimate – and often very humourous – insight into the trio's work ethic, if it can be called such a thing. (By all accounts they sound as though they're having a very jolly time indeed.) Highlights include alternative opening words and end music, as well as Postgate sound-checking in character as Bagpuss. This never-before heard audio provides a real treat for fans (and indeed those new to the Smallfilms stable) – affirmation again to the enduring quality of these special recordings, and the beloved programme that inspired them.

    "An accidental classic of the folk-roots underground that we never dared hope we’d hear with such clarity." -Stewart Lee.

    And so their work was done.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Ltd edition PINK vinyl repress.


    Well deserved and you grab a copy here > https://t.co/3L2auBT8Kh) https://t.co/kl4vtxjlPf
    Tue 19th - 1:05
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    If you want to know what’s in our End of Year Chart tune in and come down on Wednesday 27th November. More info her… https://t.co/65cUFiZOB0
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