David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.


22 October 2016

Melbourne & the little bands, these years later : Lisa Gerrard, Arf Arf, Primitive Calculators, Use No Hooks


Reading Michael Dwyer's review of the Melbourne Festival concert of Melbourne's own Lisa Gerrard and Arf Arf in The Age yesterday brought back lots of c.1980 memories|ries|ries|ries|ries|ries

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2016 
Lisa Gerrard ★★★★
Hamer Hall, 19 October 2017

Michael Dwyer / The Age
   
Lisa Gerrard's performance a revelation

The first time they came to hiss like pestilence and cackle like demons. The next time they bickered in lockstep stutters and harmonic drones. The fourth time they just stood there and bore witness to Lisa Gerrard's unearthly wail.

Arf Arf is a trio of … let's call them poets: Marisa Stirpe​, Frank Lovece​ and Michael Buckley. Part comedy, part anxiety, their scurrying invented-language chatterings were gritty relief to the immense airborne sound sculptures that ultimately silenced them.

     

photo: Carbie Warbie  
It was an unfair fight from the leading lady's grand entrance, swathed in voluminous bolts of regal cloth that hung deathly still from her perfectly poised frame.

Her musicians were attired as medieval courtesans, or maybe angels, offering cello, bamboo flute, congas and keys to the sonic cathedral where the high priestess channelled her message of love.


Yep, channelled. "Singing" doesn't describe the way Gerrard commands the air to behave, rumbling from the deep and soaring to astonishing contralto highs, ringing in endless caverns of reverb, somehow more revelation than invention.


As always she spoke almost exclusively in tongues to disarm logical thought; in her own words to "defy the prisons of judgment and academia". So we surrendered, as cascades of glorious, unthinkable melody took flight in mystical middle-eastern swirls and trance rhythms and lofty operatics suddenly cut with playful soul and gospel asides.


Sleep came at last in words we could literally understand: the earth mother's sublime murmur of comfort in a bickering and stuttering world. Funnily enough, we'd been feeling that all along.
By 1980 Lisa Gerrard was an already charismatic regular performer at the little bands nights around Melbourne. 

Sometimes she held our focus solo, accompanying herself with a dulcimer or accordion; other times, we remember her performances with fellow high stylist Lee Smith (RIP) on thrash guitar, together as Junk Logic as listed in the poster paste-up below


click image to enlarge  
Another from around then.

           
Michael Buckley, Marcus Bergner, Marisa Stirpe​ and Frank Lovece​ formed Arf Arf in 1985. 

All were part of the little bands scene from the start. Michael and Marcus in Too Fat To Fit Through The Door, Marisa in Thrush and the Cunts, and Frank in Primitive Calculators.

In 1978, members of Primitive Calculators, an experimental post-punk group from Melbourne, formed a short-lived side band, the Leapfrogs. Using it as their own opening act, Primitive Calculators decided to form other "little bands" with friends, including members of Whirlywirld, who lived next door to the group in Fitzroy North, with rehearsal spaces in each house.[4] By sharing their equipment with the little bands, it made it easier to practice and set up for each gig. Soon they started staging "Little Band nights" at various inner city venues, and at first, rules were strictly imposed: no little band was allowed to play more than twice and could have no more than fifteen minutes worth of material.[1] According to Primitive Calculators frontman Stuart Grant, it was "the punk ethos of disposability, novelty and working against the grain of the standard modes of procedure in the music business."[5] Many of the little bands were composed of non-musicians who enjoyed the opportunity to realise their naive musical ideas. - Wikipedia
When Primitive Calculators played their break-up gig at The Seaview in 1981, they shared it with another of the little band cores Use No Hooks.

No poster for that, but here's one for the Equal Local debut, with Use No Hooks again in support.
(Dean Richards and Philip Jackson formed Equal Local video here after their departure from Whirlywirld in 1979.)


                   
Primitive Calculators returned at The Tote in 2009 after 29 years. (here)

 Always there : Alan Bamford, participant, advocate and key 
 archivist of the Melbourne little bands scene
           
Tomorrow night at the Belleville in cbd Melbourne, the founding duo of Use No Hooks, Mick Earls and Arne Hanna will return as Use No Hooks after 32 years.
        

 Arne and Mick c.1981  
 detail
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