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MUSIQUE PLASTIQUE

Sam went into an almost psychotic state when making music. He wasn’t himself. He was immersed in the creativity to such an extent that it was almost like a psychotic trance. Here’s an example. He found all this giant kelp down at Western Port bay and he would bathe himself in it for weeks. He would replenish the water and put salt in the bath, but leave the kelp in there. I used to ask Julie, his partner and wife, “How’s everything going?” and she’d say, “Just go and have a look at the bath.” - Tony Rogers

Sam Mallet could have pursued a career as a French literature professor in Paris, but decided his true calling was to remain in Australia, dedicate himself to his music and find the plateau; a word he used to describe the sensory worlds residing in music. Under the influence of Eno, Jon Hassell, Arvo Pärt, John Coltrane and Robert Fripp, Sam explored a wide variety of musical styles and put them to service soundtracking the time based works of his peers. He crafted spatial ambience, somber jazz, and drum computer driven rockers for short films and experimental video works, television shows (including the original Australian Wilfred series), feature films and live theatre. The avant garde Anthill Theatre, known for its departure from conventional staging practices and having a keen eye for talent, enlisted Mallet to provide soundtracks for approximately 40 productions throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

Sadly, Sam passed away in 2014. A crucial piece of his legacy is undoubtedly the body of work he produced during his life, and the archive of recorded works is vast and deep. Sam seemingly saved everything, from fragments to finished pieces; and often repurposed previously released tracks by collaging them into new pieces. He self released a small number of cassettes and CDs from the mid 1980s onward, the contents of which were culled from soundtrack work and original pieces, but the majority of his music was experienced only within the ephemeral live performances.

"Wetlands" is the product of countless hours spent with this archive by Rowan Mason (Sanpo Disco/Recurring Dream) and Tony Remple (Musique Plastique), offering a dynamic survey of Sam’s work, and housed in a jacket evoking the minimal design and colour palette of his earliest cassette releases. Two selections of Sam Mallet’s music were featured on the compilation "Midday Moon" (also produced by Rowan), released last year by Bedroom Suck Records. Along with Left Ear Records’ "Antipodean Anomalies", "Midday Moon" has served to highlight outlier musics and scenes from Australia and New Zealand, and Wetlands plunges deeper into the catalog of this obscure yet groundbreaking artist.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: As you may know, I'm all about this kind of tackle. Archival release (tick), fourth world (tick), new age (tick), Balearic (tick), baths with kelp (err...tick!). Like an Aussie Philip Glass wandering the outback on the best acid trip ever...

Performing throughout the 1980s as Art Carnage to the gloomy hipsters of Portland, Attilio Panissidi III decided he needed a vacation. The result of his creative escape became Art Takes A Holiday, an album of fabricated FM synthscapes and MIDI environments that embrace elements of smooth jazz, new age, and pop.

Attilio had been playing in bands since he was thirteen, and had opened live shows for countless acts, from The Shangri-Las to Bruce Hornsby. The experience of producing, performing, as well as years spent writing for local music magazine The Downtowner, earned Attilio a gig to score a commercial film for a home security systems company. The opportunity allowed him to explore softer elements in his writing, and he created a suite of songs much deeper than the commission warranted. These instrumentals caught the attention of Marlon McClain (Gap Band, Shock), who invited Attilio to produce and release the music on his fledgling Nu-Vision label. Thus "Art Takes A Holiday" found its commercial release on cassette and CD in 1989. Although originally intended as soundtrack music, the album retains its own momentum, narrative and evocative imagery that betrays Attilio’s years of crafting songs. Attilio found a perfect ambience on this mythic retreat, somewhere between William Aura’s summer cottage on Half Moon Bay and DJ Alfredo’s Balearic island getaway.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Originally released in the era when New Age and new technology found a perfect synergy, “Art Takes A Holiday” is a killer set of exotic synth suites, future primitive grooves and esoteric dancers, each of which could have graced the soundtrack of a late 80s film about cops, surfing and computer systems.

Politico dub-collage practitioners Guerilla Welfare came from Edmonton, Alberta, coincidentally the birthplace of prophetic media sage Marshall McLuhan. Armed with vanguard ideas taken from Steve Reich, Fela Kuti, Robert Fripp and Material, the duo of Curtis Ruptash and Brian Schultze adopted the “studio as instrument” mindset of Eno and King Tubby creating complex textural and polyrhythmic sonic insurgencies. They overdubbed drum computers, guitar, bass, noise-makers, mallet percussion, sitars, often accompanied by sampled vocals and found sound taken from TV. Their pan-global, multi-media palette supported zeitgeist commentary — often, with a healthy dose of gallows humour — on gender, power structures, and sexual and geopolitical tensions in the late 80s. Their DIY bunker studio experimentations align them with genre defying dub-infused outfits like African Head Charge, Dome, Lifetones, Naffi, Woo, Negativland and The Residents. "The Nature of Human Nature" captures Guerilla Welfare’s most formidable output, compiling tracks selected from their entire discography (two LPs and a cassette collaboration with poet Mary Howes), all originally self-released from 1986 to 1991. Remastered from the original tapes.


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