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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.

    Headland began in 2013 as a soundtrack to a gorgeous collection of found super8 film fragments depicting surfing and coastal culture in and around Lennox Head, Australia in the 1970s.

    For this release, contemporary, High Definition slow-motion footage by award winning filmmaker Stephen Jones (El Mar Mi Alma) overscores each track of a full length LP. The film provides a discrete and personally emotive portrait of the Lennox coastline that builds upon traditional notions of landscape and seascape where each and every frame seems painted by hand. The instrumentation is lyrical, the compositions quaint and heartfelt. The combination is a personal insight into an emotional understanding of place.

    With an almost distinct Australian fever to its pitch, “True Flowers” ebbs and flows like the proverbial tide it is “soundtracking”, the players of this collective have a long history in the underground/mainstream music scene in Australia, and with this record have created a similar cinematic/avant garde-pop as created by the likes of Calexico, Friends of Dean Martinez, Boxhead Ensemble, Lullaby for the Working Class, and even Pink Floyd and Neil Young, so immersive and far-reaching is their sound.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Following on from 2014’s delicate sun-dappled dreamy debut is this equally immersive album of beautifully cinematic and languid gems.

    In 2013 Headland produced the LP sound/track to accompany a collection of 1970s surf film fragments site-specific to the northern coast of New South Wales: an album of guitar-based music seemingly poised between the open spaces of the landscape and the stylised rhythm of single-fin surfing.

    This latest release, Cosy, maintains the essence of that project, providing five easy pieces that reflect on Australian surf-culture of the ‘70s and hint at an upcoming full-length release.

    Headland’s main contributors are Murray Paterson, known elsewhere for his work with Tex Perkins & The Dark Horses, and Joel Silbersher, founding member of seminal Australian Rock bands God and Hoss.

    Fans of the likes of Giant Sand / early Calexico / Scenic / Sun Kil Moon would be advised to take a dip.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd 12" Info: A limited edition 5 track / clear vinyl 12" EP to keep the waves rolling in, until the new album is on our shores. 500 copies only, DL card included.


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