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Karen Marks

Cold Cafe

    Almost four decades since its domestic release, Karen Marks’ 1981 single “Cold Café” has finally reaped its deserved international credit to become one of Australia's most recognized minimal wave recordings. Efficient Space now showcases the Melbourne artist’s brief but entire discography, including two previously unheard demos, all produced with experimental synthesist Ash Wednesday (The Metronomes, Modern Jazz, Thealonian Music).

    A rarity in the then male dominated industry, Marks found her footing in music, first through rock journalism and then in band management. Formally of Adelaide, newly arrived synth-punks JAB (Johnny Crash, Ash Wednesday and Bodhan X) approached her for representation, subsequently contributing tracks to seminal 1978 snapshot Lethal Weapons and playing the Crystal Ballroom's opening night. Wednesday and Crash would soon dissolve JAB, enlisting Mark Ferry and Sean Kelly to create Models. Still under Mark's management, Models became one of the fastest rising new bands of the punk movement, playing to full houses of dedicated and frenzied fans everywhere. Sadly, internal frictions forced Wednesday and Marks to leave after two years, with Crash following three months later.

    Her creative relationship with Wednesday fortified with the co-production of his 1980 machine-pop prank “Love By Numbers”, her swooning chorus uplifting his deadpan count to 100, before the two collaborated on Marks’ own recording persona. Immortalised by the icy Oz wave of “Cold Café”, her Astor issued 7” also boasted the caffeinated flip “Won't Wear It For Long” - a should be hit with guitar from future Icehouse member Robert Kretschmer.

    Fans know of one more recording – “You Bring These Things”, a forlorn arrangement of an otherwise unreleased Paul Kelly song, gifted to her by the revered wordsmith. The track only ever appeared on the Astor promotional LP “Terra Australis”, sinfully alongside Up There Cazaly and Joe Dolce - hard proof that the label grossly misunderstood her talent (Marks recalls their persistent requests to show midriff and cleavage). Locked in a dissatisfying label arrangement and at this stage unwilling to follow her peers to greener pastures overseas, she felt her only way out was to cease all further activities.

    At the 11th hour of preparing this retrospective, two tracks unexpectedly surfaced via two cassettes - a paranoid demo version of her signature tune “Cold Café”, and a long-lost fourth song “Problem Page”. Both living room recordings follow Marks and Wednesday’s ingenious framework of minimal lyrics, minimal chord progressions. 


    Patrick says: After bringing Karen Marks’ oz-wave wonder to wider attention via “Sky Girl”, Efficient Space dip back in with an expanded EP featuring an ace alternate version alongside three other wavey delights.


    A1. Cold Cafe
    A2. Won't Wear It For Long
    A3. You Bring These Things
    B1. Cold Cafe (demo)
    B2. Problem Page (demo)

    Efficient Space continues to expose Australia's esoteric musical history with "Oz Waves" - a collection of 80s DIY recordings, compiled by odd wave anthropologist Steele Bonus. Definitive proof that inhabitants of the Down Underground were links in a global network of creative kooks, "Oz Waves" connects those who utilized mobile recording rigs and small press releases to create and disseminate misfit synth-punk, tape loop experiments and inner city pop. Through overseas mail order exchanges, anonymous groups like Zerox Dreamflesh could find place on Belgian compilations, while Chris and Cosey lullabied their son to sleep with Irena Xero and her interdisciplinary art collective Zip.

    Bonus selects 10 survivors from the fertile period (1982-1989), most of which were only issued on cassette in tiny editions of 5 to 100 copies. M Squared affiliates Prod join the extraterrestrial Software Seduction, He Dark Age's minimal wave neglect and the irreverent cut ups of The Horse He's Sick and MK Ultra & the Assassins of Light. The remaining tracks have been sourced from musicians' private archives and are being officially released on Oz Waves for the first time - Andy Rantzen's industrial dub Itch-E & Scratch-E precursor, the buoyant vocal-drone of Ironing Music and Moral Fibro, Sydney's short lived answer to Weekend and Marine Girls. With detailed track by track notes, lines are drawn to Severed Heads, Scattered Order and other antipodean post-punk royalty.

    As a DJ, Steele Bonus has gained notoriety via the exquisite selections that form his ongoing mix series Odd Waves. Sydney-born, Amsterdam-based, his graphic design has not only been responsible for sleeves on Efficient Space, but also trusted Amsterdam connoisseurs Music From Memory and Young Marco's Safe Trip.


    Matt says: Worth the entrance fee for some of the inspired band names alone - this is a really strong collection of Australian minimal wave and DIY electro-punk.


    A1. Irena Xero - Lady On The Train
    A2. Andy Rantzen - Will I Dream?
    A3. Prod - Knife On Top
    A4. Software Seduction - New Collision
    A5. Ironing Music - Don't Wish It Away
    B1. He Dark Age - Holding Out For Eden
    B2. The Horse He's Sick - Larynx
    B3. MK Ultra & The Assassins Of Light - Jesus Krist Klap Rap (Orthodox Mix)
    B4. Moral Fibro - Take A Walk In The Sun
    B5. Zerox Dreamflesh - Squids Can Fly


    Hydroplane - 2022 Reissue

      Hydroplane reinstate their formidable 1997 debut of sublime guitar atmospherics, fragile lyricism and droning incidentals with an overdue vinyl and digital reissue.

      Bored of industry expectation and largely ignored by local audiences, the reluctant performers followed the way of The Cannanes and formed meaningful overseas alliances by mail and phone, securing releases on Michigan outpost Drive Inn and Broadcast launching pad Wurlitzer Jukebox. Championed by John Peel with twenty spins on his converted Radio One slot and even polling in Festive Fifty of 1997, the humble three-piece still walked to their neighbourhood shops undetected.

      Previously only available as a US-issued CD, this reminiscent late-night suite establishes Hydroplane as an everlasting ember in Australia’s beloved indie nexus.

      An offshoot of the now-féted The Cat’s Miaow, the trio formed after drummer Cameron Smith decamped to London, charting new territory with tape loops, manipulated samples and a borrowed Jupiter 4 in the wake of Entroducing.

      Adopting a handle that Dean Wareham once considered calling Luna, Hydroplane intended to only ever release Excerpts From Forthcoming LP, a single-sided 7” sonic collage, before imploding in mystery. Their label however insisted they deliver their taunted album. From the comfort of a Brunswick flat, they continued to record soaring melodies and restrained song structures to 4-track, sculpting dramatic Radiophonic Workshop cues weighted in reverb and near-perfect dream pop lead by Kerrie Bolton’s empyrean vocals.


      A1 Wurlitzer Jukebox
      A2 Piano Movement With Percussion
      A3 Song For The Meek
      A4 I Hear A New World
      A5 New Monotonic FM
      A6 House Warming
      A7 14th July
      B1 Reprise
      B2 Beloved Invader
      B3 Interlude
      B4 New Monotonic FM (Acoustic)
      B5 LDR
      B6 Send In The Clowns
      B7 Completed Extract From The Previous 7"

      The Frenzied Bricks

      The Frenzied Bricks

      Crossing over to Adelaide, odd wave minor players The Frenzied Bricks completely bypassed the history books with indifference. This madcap union of school friends Chris Merchant and David McCarthy cut void-entering motorik and weirdo monologues in bedrooms and suburban rehearsal studios. Rumoured to be an individual, they never bothered to disprove the gossip with live performance. They did however submit aspiring demos to community radio station 5MMM, where they were fortuitously stored for four decades.

      The 7” marks the non-band’s debut release, combining two should-be classics from the vault. ‘(Can I) Bridge The Gap’ apathetically tunnels with Neu! Order energy, dual bass and McCarthy’s laconic vocal delivery, while their only instrumental ‘Entropy’ calls in guitarist and unofficial Brick Dave Warren to send the TR-808 into the stratosphere. Unknown until now, this is down under synth-wave at it’s finest.

      The Frenzied Bricks is pressed in an edition of 327 hand stamped white labels, wrapped in white ink printed coloured card.


      Matt says: One of two highly anticipated Efficient Space 7"s dropping this week that's got our weirdo clientele buzzin. It's got that DIY, lo-fi vibe nailed down right with deadpan, off-kilter song writing to boot. Don't sleep!


      The Frenzied Bricks - (Can I) Bridge The Gap
      The Frenzied Bricks - Entropy 

      7”. Edition of 281 copies. Hand stamped, cover white ink printed on coloured card.

      Height/Dismay were the M Squared studio-as-instrument duo of Patrick Gibson and Dru Jones. A member of Systematics and Scattered Order, Gibson was an integral part of the M Squared label and studio, where he met Jones. With an unapologetic misuse of instruments and ample time, the two sonic explorers scraped guitar strings, manipulated clarinets, and contact mic’d woks to layer their echo chamber apparitions.

      Collating three 1981 recordings, the then-shelved ‘Blood Pressure In The Sand’ joins ‘Dusk’, their con-tribution to archetypal cassette-zine Fast Forward. Also unreleased, ‘The Tinning Test’ rejects formal lyrics in favour of a deadpan reading from the Australian Standard for tinned copper wire. The outsid-ers of the outside, these mutual minds’ productions have long been overlooked as crucial pieces of the Australian DIY music puzzle.

      Height/Dismay is pressed in an edition of 281 hand stamped white labels, wrapped in white ink print-ed coloured card.


      Matt says: A double header of Efficient Space madness graces our shelves this week. This one, a hair brained experimental project by Patrick Gibson and Dru Jones is weird, wonderful, wacky - and has an enchanted discordance which brings to mind classic Finders Keepers.


      1. Blood Pressure In The Sand
      2. Dusk
      3. The Tinning Test

      Wilson Tanner’s 69 returns to Australian soil for a new season. A uniquely provincial take on ambient music, Andrew Wilson (Andras) and John Tanner (Eleventeen Eston) assembled their prized debut over a shared love of seafood, wine and LPG. Recorded in a Perth backyard, these two new friends reached for the tools at hand and made the best of the fine weather. Instrument and implement combine in a languorous bricolage of synthesizer, clarinet and building materials - interrupted only by the occasional flutter of pigeon wings or a call to lunch.


      A1. Sun Room
      A2. Long Water
      A3. Before Lotus
      A4. Keith
      B1. Further Than Your Headlights
      B2. Pilot
      B3. Tray Tail
      B4. Odd Low

      Initially conceived as a short-run cassette for Altered States Tapes, YL Hooi’s nameless collection of textural apparitions oscillate between icy DIY minimalism, FX-drenched atmospherics and nang chamber dub. A ghost-like transmission, Hooi’s voice serves to anchor an array of sonic abstractions and impressionistic melodic motifs as a sense of purgatorial ambience dominates throughout. Co-produced with alleged fellow Kallista Kult member Tarquin Manek (LST, M. Quake), Untitled’s ultimate sensation is its halfway state, as if caught between worlds. The album’s final form speaks of its origins, recorded intermittently over a two year period (2017-2019). The extended time passage seeps into the song structures, spiralling and mutating from the same centre - the elegiac pulse of opener ‘Title’ presages the hymnal lilt of ‘Straight Thru’, before birthing the inverted bossa nova of ‘W/O Love’. The result is a constantly shifting tableaux of shared liminal spaces. These songs seemingly emerge in plumes of smoke, magician’s tricks conjured from the ether. It’s a vision that ossifies at Untitled’s midpoint with a cover of Love Joys’ ‘Stranger’, the lovers rock original morphed into the transportive intimacy of Hooi’s own hazy inner space, a totem of the LP’s amorphous and ultimately sensuous qualities. The sound from both down under and way out there in subspace, Untitled is an inspired masterstroke of experimental mystics. This 2021 Efficient Space edition is remastered and robed in new artwork that honours the Melbourne-based earth dragon’s Chinese and Russian heritage.


      A1. Title
      A2. Straight Thru
      A3. E Park
      A4. W/O Love
      A5. Stranger
      B1. When Yr Up There
      B2. Strobe Lite
      B3. Lucky
      B4. Prince S Version
      B5. Always In Jokes

      Selected by Sky Girl co-conspirer Julien Dechery, Le Raccourci culls 15 tracks from Gandera's extensive cassette discography, discarded DAT recordings, and split CD with Lyon toy music project Klimperei. ...

      While Gandera's nostalgic melodies incidentally parallel with the piano key manoeuvres of Pascal Comelade, Robert Haigh and Dominique Lawalrée, Le Raccourci could only stem from the escapist desires of one Eric Morin.

      The impressionist landscapes of a sensitive soul self-reflecting, these miniature compositions alternate across a rudimentary set up of piano, field recorder, sampler and four track. Melancholic utterings hastily captured some 100km east of Paris.

      Classically trained by the same teacher as his parents, Gandera first began recording in the confines of his university dorm room, inspired by a C60 from friend and future collaborator Bernard Odot (A Gethsémani). Humbly existing without sparing a thought to music industry or career, Gandera's personal effects surfaced via the European and US cassette networks from 1988 to 1994. Impressively accomplished for the DIY scene they orbited, these tapes were issued in scant quantities, rendering his pieces as private secrets shared and duplicated in small concentric circles. Aside from a sole, avowedly traumatic performance, the material was never shared in a live context.

      These sentiently charged compositions only hint at his larger catalogue, but act as a compelling cross section of the artist's oeuvre. The identity is further detailed by archival images, Glen Goetze penned liner notes and original artwork from Perks and Mini's Misha Hollenbach.


      1. N'Écrire Que Du Vent
      2. La Visite Au Musée
      3. And Then The Wind
      4. Chienne De Vie
      5. Quand Natalia Peint
      6. Thème Entre Deux Chants
      7. Les Sanglots Du Locataire
      8. John Doe
      9. C'Était À L'Aube
      10. Le Dialogue Des Joueurs De Cartes
      11. Et L'Obscurité Toute Entière Pour Me Rappeler Cela
      12. Le Train Ne S'Arrêtera Plus
      13. L'Oubli
      14. Chryséléphantines
      15. D'Un Pas Chancelant

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