What’s Up Down Under


Ah, the vast roaming plains of 'Stralia. Controversial in its history, savage in its nature. But as our summer limps off into the damp undergrowth like a sickly wombat, it makes a guy think. Perhaps eternal summer isn't so bad. Who needs an ozone layer anyway?

It's also home to a wave of incredibly strong electronic musicians and labels. Butter Sessions, Animals Dancing, Superconscious, Analogue Attic and Ruff Records have shown us some of the most idiosyncratic and interesting music of recent years, with confident machine experimentation and thoughtful, exploratory production carving out a solid, informed identity for the Australian electronic scene. It's got a Mad Max (with Mel) vibe to it, an appreciation for outdated visions of the future and commitment to old music and video equipment, fashion and club culture, simultaneously looking back and forwards.

Some of the artists are well established over here and some less so; see Harvey Sutherland, Sleep D, Bell Towers, Andras Fox, Dan White, Fantastic Man, Tornado Wallace. They all share a hardware obsession, eschewing the heavy heat in favour of the cool studios where they can explore the intricate functions of their Rolands and Junos, layering soft keys and electronic bleeps over lo-fi, metronomic patterns or complex, tribal polyrhythms.

Mr Bronson

Part of the Bad Party Records crew, Andrew Bronson makes some insanely nice analogue synth music using old sequencers and electronic instruments from his studio in Melbourne. It's cinematic, emotional, italo/new wave which never-quite-gets-all-the-way-but-points-towards acid. You like chugs? You'll love this.

Sui Zhen

Sui Zhen is changing direction pretty rapidly at the moment, currently heading more decidedly towards a conventional vocal-driven production thing. However, this release, the Body Reset EP, and the preceding Female Basic EP were beautiful in their sensitive airiness and simple construction/arrangement of tracks. It's easy to trace the lineage, and it makes sense for her to want to head to where she's going, but some might think she's going for a Grimes thing when she's got a vibe which is/was pretty different.

Analogue Attic Recordings

Analogue Attic is the beautiful baby of Sean La'Brooy and Alex Albrecht. Taking a more ambient stance, further from the local landscape, through it's inaugural release (by the labelheads), the label has since gone on to release some highly textured, dreamy electronic music from Dan White (under his Rings Around Saturn alias) and TUC, which contains a couple of tracks approaching the 'dancefloor appropriate' category. Very nice.

Butter Sessions

Butter Sessions have their vibe totally figured out. Visually taking their cues from DIY rave poster artwork and record sleeves from the '90s, the labels on their records look like they've been photocopied to fuck and use handrawn stoner graffiti and simple, bold, wordart-esque graphics similar to the SexTags lot.  For their fifth release they've collected some local, humid, layered techno which is simple and heavy with effects. Home to labelheads Sleep D, their past instalments have featured the prime picks of Melbourne's dance talent; Dan White, Cale Sexton, Tuff Sherm & Patch Free, alongside special overseas exceptions Fett Burger & Jayda G.

Tuff Sherm & Patch Free

Dro Carey is back with Patch Free, following an excellent outing on Butter Sessions earlier this year. UTTU sublabel Hot Haus (UK) is behind the EP which ranges from the relentless, forward charging Dern Work to the far more relaxed, soulful Zone 3 and the optimistic, cosmic house of Bikini Spill and Fire Ant. Order it here.

Zanzibar Chanel

I saw Zanzibar Chanel in a basement gallery space during Dalston's Land of Kings festival earlier this year. Vocalist Zac shuffled restlessly from foot to foot, turned off all of the lights during the performance, brought a keytar out and shouted at the bemused audience for not dancing hard enough. The newest thing they've released is a remix of an old Andras & Oscar tune on the (tepid) new Andras & Oscar single, and predictably it's the best track on it. Mad production values in their videos too (see above – is much funnier if you manage to synchronise it with the original).

The unlikely duo have a similarly photocopied/graffiti stoner aesthetic to Butter Sessions and produce lo-fi groove tracks, 909s and airy synths layered over sampled slap bass with plenty of left turns and unexpected production details. The weight of the vocals span from being nearly incidental/sample material to solidly urging the track along, to full blown rapping over it, giving another layer and focal point to the sound. It's rude, sexy and energetic.

No? Just me then?