Chapter synopsis & additional background material

Acknowledgments & Imprint

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Artist Directory
(archived-no longer maintained)

Resource List
A list of books, publications and websites on Australian Experimental Music
(archived-no longer maintained)

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Chapter Summaries

Preface: Starting somewhere
Gail Priest

In the preface Gail Priest explores possible definitions of experimental music  within Australia. This is contextualised through prior publications such as those from the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre as well as the significant sound culture explorations in the 90s such as TISEA and SoundSite. Additionally it provides brief summaries of each upcoming chapter.

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1  Setting the scene: Developments in Australian experimental music since the mid-1990s  
Julian Knowles

Julian Knowles explores the development of the current experimental music scenes suggesting roots in the early improvisation work of artists and groups such as the MRC Trio and David Ahern. He also discusses early computer music and the fractious relationship between electroacoustic traditions and digital musics. He then surveys festivals such as What is Music?, Liquid Architecture, the Now now festival, Totally Huge, Unsound, Sounds Unusual and Electrofringe and explores some of the many performance series across Australia.

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2  The lost decade: Post-punk experimental and industrial electronic music
Ian Andrews, in consultation with John Blades

Andrews and Blades explore the rich territory of post-punk, No Wave  and Industrial scenes of late 70s and early 80s. Discussion includes the ‘autonomous cottage industry’ of cassette labels such as Terse Tapes and M Square, the little bands and Anti-Music collectives, Clifton Hill Community Music Centre, Tch Tch Tch, Severed Heads and SPK and the role of cut-up and alternate radio programs on the experimental scenes.

Additional content (archival flyers supplied by John Blades)

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3  Cultural terrorism and anti-music: Noise music and its impact on experimental music in Australia
Cat Hope

Cat Hope surveys the development of noise musics in Australia and the infiltration of noise within experimental practice. From post-punk and No Wave groups such as SPK and Signals, she follows the progression of noise through rock into its own genre with groups such as Phlegm, Volvox, Thou Gideon and Bucketrider. She also investigates the relationship between electronics and noise music with artists such as Lucas Abela, Philip Samartzis and Darrin Verhagen and touches on current labels and collectives working in noisy areas.

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4  ‘Copyright doesn’t mean shit to me’: Sampling and appropriation in Australian experimental music and sound art
Shannon O’Neill

Shannon O’Neill  follows the use of sampling and appropriation within experimental music in Australia, exploring the pioneering work of artists such as Tom Ellard and Severed Heads, Rik Rue, The Loop Orchestra, Gum, Warren Burt and John Watermann. He then takes on the cut-ups to mash-ups of the late 20th and early 21st century looking at artists such as Dsico, Toecutter, Antediluvian Rocking Horse and the Goulburn Poultry Fanciers Society, and explores the issues around copyright in the digital age.

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5  Part 1: The emergence of popular unpopular electronic music
Gail Priest, with contributions by Sebastian Chan
   Part 2: Clan Analogue and the art of cooperation
Bo Daley

Across 2 parts this chapter explores the development of popular electronic music  in Australia. From beginnings in raves through to the development of listening – rather than dancing – music, part one looks at the levels of technological and social experiment inherent in these more popular musics. In part 2 Bo Daley takes a more in-depth look at the Clan Analogue Collective exploring new and old technologies, along with new collective modes of presentation and distribution.

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6  Resonances in the machine of thought: Computational processes in experimental music
Alistair Riddell

Alistair Riddell explores the development of computational process and programming within experimental music practices sharing the perspectives of several key figures including early pioneers such as Graeme Gerrard, Greg Schiemer, David Worrall and Brian Parish along with more recent practitioners such as Ross Bencina, Andrew Sorensen and Andrew Brown, Gordon Monro, Jon Drummond, Nick Mariette and Robin Fox.

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7  Networks, playfulness and collectivity: Improv in Australia 1972–2007
Jim Denley

Jim Denley explores the rich territory of improvisation within experimental music, starting with the work of David Ahern and Teletopa and includes discussion of many available recordings of artists such as Jon Rose, Ross Bolleter, John Rodgers, Oren Ambarchi, Robbie Avenaim, Machine for Making Sense, Jamie Fielding, Greg Kingston, Lucas Abela, Anthony Pateras, Clayton Thomas, Clare Cooper and the Splinter Orchestra.

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8  Written in air: Experiments in radio
Virginia Madsen

Virginia Madsen explores experimental radio practices in Australia broadcast via community stations such as 2MBS FM, 3AR, 3PBS with indepth discussion of programs by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation such as Sunday Night Radio 2, Surface Tension and The Listening Room. She also looks at some of the many experimental radio formats such as auteur documentaries and features providing tastes of key artists work such as Kaye Mortley, Moya Henderson and Paul Carter, as well as raising concern for the future of experimental radio in the digital age.

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9  Musicians and boffins, tinkers and dreamers: Experimental musical instrument building in Australia
Sean Bridgeman

Sean Bridgeman surveys the many different ways people are making new instruments in order to further explore music. Key areas include recycling and repurposing as in the work of Steve Langton or Toydeath; mechanical contraptions with artists such as Ernie Althoff, Ross Manning, Pia van Gelder, Matt Hoare and Rod Cooper; extensions of traditional instruments by Peter Biffin and Ross Bolleter; collaborating with the site and environment in the work of Jon Rose and Jodi Rose; digital instruments created by Donna Hewitt, Jon Drummond and Ross Bencina; and collaborative creations by Greg Schiemer, Richard Allen and the Morph Table Team.

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10  Sounding sight, space and bodies: A survey of mixed media explorations
Gail Priest

In the final chapter Gail Priest looks at experimental sound and music when combined with other media and methodologies. Starting with the extraordinary audiovisual experiments of Josef Stanislav Ostoja-Kotkowski, the chapter follows the development of the integration of audio and vision in the work of Stephen Jones and Severed Heads, through to VJ culture and the current contemporary audiovisual performance milieu. Experimental sound in installation, net art, games and interactive dance works is also discussed.

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