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EFFICIENT SPACE

Almost four decades since its domestic release, Karen Marks’ 1981 single Cold Café has finally reaped it’s deserved international credit to become one of Australia's most recognised 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. 

STAFF COMMENTS

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.

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.


FORMAT INFORMATION

Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Various Artists

Oz Waves - Compiled By Steele Bonus

    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 utilised 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 this 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, minimal wave neglect from He Dark Age 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.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Musical boundary pusher and design maverick Steele Bonus follows in the footsteps of Andras and Instant Peterson, donning his compiling cap and putting together a ten track introduction to the oddest end of Australia's 80s underground. Minimal Wave meets dub, post punk dances with naff new age and absolutely no Matilda's are waltzed on this weird and wonderful collection of off-the-wall pop.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: One copy available


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