Left Ear’s selection of Antipodean Anomalies brings us special music from an “isolating” place

The wait is finally over and Left Ear’s compilation of music from Australia and New Zealand – made in a “unique” time and space in the 1970s and 1980s – is finally here…and these Antipodean Anomalies sound like nothing else.

Compiled by Left Ear Record’s own Chris Bonato and  Umut Turkeri, tracks such as Rainbow Generator’s City Of The Sun is a psychedelic walkabout and is anchored by Balearic ramblings about the beach – but it is the more traditional sounding instrumentation and melodies that elevate this beyond mere new-wave, post-punk or leftfield music.

The duo at Left Ear Records explain how these lesser-known artists have constructed such culturally fused and unique visions in their compositions:

“For musicians inhabiting the Antipodean countries of Australia and New Zealand during the 70’s and 80’s, it was a geographically and culturally isolating environment. Boutique shops, community radio and mail order exchanges championed independent and contemporary music from across the globe. It was, however, this isolation that caused a number of small community-focused scenes to evolve, creating their own unique interpretation and reappropriation of outside influences. Through both these scenes and government initiatives, a vast amount of music emerged on self-released and independent labels.

“Yet, even among small scenes that were creating unique sounds, a number of artists seemed to be making music that was neither here nor there, often meshing together numerous genres and influences to create anomalous sounds.

“Artists like Olev Muska along with Ingrid Slamer meshed traditional folk songs of their Estonian heritage with cutting edge computer technology. Ngahiwi Apanui used his native language of Te Reo and a “cheap drum machine” to create a pulsating tale that highlights the creation of Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand); while the Free Radicals would sing through PVC pipes to construct their vision of post-apocalyptic tribal music. Sydney’s Nic Lyon used his classical training to craft a distinctive gem which matched eastern and African influenced instruments with synchopated drum machines, while artists like Delaney Venn and Toy Division managed to challenge their post-punk sensibilities by blending both dub and atmospheric sounds respectively.”

Once again Left Ear have shown their expert curation and diversity, although looking closer to their Melbourne home than with recent releases – having reissued Kingsley Bucknor’s electro-disco from Nigeria, undiscovered synth legend Omer Coleman (also Starship Commander Woo Woo), fellow U.S countrymen Workdub and their brand of dub experiments, Shahara-Ja’s soulful electro, Yoruba Singers of Guyana, the spaced out jazz-funk of Thesda, the rapso of Brother Resistance, Minoru Hoodoo Fushimi’s blend of Japanese tradition and electro-funk, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Andre Tanker.

Left Ear have also reissued Antipodean artists, including Peter Westheimer and Leong Lau, the latter just receiving a much needed repress. The documentary below provides a window into Lau’s world. You can also click here: for more anomalies from Australia and New Zealand.

Left Ear select best of Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi on new compilation ‘In Praise of Mitochondria’

In Praise of Mitochondria celebrates the output of Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi who self-released four albums of unique proto-electro and rap explorations. They were released on two vinyl LPs and two CDs between 1985 and 1992 and now the ever trusty Left Ear Records from Melbourne have revisited this Japanese pioneer. Together with Jerome Qpchan, the label has selected 12 tracks for a double vinyl retrospective, including two unreleased tracks from the archives.

In the words of the esteemed Dr. Rob: “Minoru set out to combine his love of all things funk with traditional instruments and song from his homeland. He uses shamisen on Thanatopsis. Where Parliament’s Flashlight [and] George Clinton’s Atomic Dog ride with Osamu Kitajima’s Masterless Samurai. [Minoru plays] shakuhachi on Mizuko No Tamashii Hyakumademo. Nohdashi puts koto with a Jimmy Castor riff. All set to popping and locking beats.

“Minoru’s vocals switch between raps about cellular metabolism and haemoglobin, soul croon and vocoder. On Shinz-San he adds metal guitar to vintage Sugarhill. And he goes crazy with his sampler. Scratching in cats, frogs, babies, laughter, giggles, traffic jams, failing ignitions, opera singers, and amorous sighs. Furarete mixes elephant roars and go-go. [Minoru is] creating unique avant grooves that share something with Tackhead’s ON-U Sound System, Savant’s tape experiments, and fellow countrymen EP-4.” 

For more information visit Left Ear Records.

Left Ear Records celebrate Australian great again with Peter Westheimer’s ‘Cool Change’ comp

Cool Change from Left Ear Records is the new compilation of Peter Westheimer and it’s a welcome examination of a musical polymath.

Westheimer is a a medical doctor, played violin in the Australian Youth Orchestra, he’s been an actor, a former deputy mayor, a street theatre performer and a documentary soundtrack composer.

The Aussie label has released a treasure trove of his music recorded between 1981 and 1993 on Cool Change. Westheimer’s debut Move was released in 1985 and sounded unlike anything else with a unique brand of distinctly Australian synth work. The second and third LPs of this intriguing artist were similarly unique (Sooner Than Laughter in 1986 and Transition in 1992). Those three releases are covered by Left Ear with six previously unreleased tracks also on this compilation.

Left Ear state: “Popular music landscapes were cultivated and subsequently redeveloped many times over during that period and certainly Peter’s sound evolved, but each track on Cool Change maintains a certain indescribable quality; a timbre that whispers Westheimer.

“If you walk into a record store you might discover Peter’s recordings filed under the usual headings: electronic, ambient, experimental or new age. Peter has long loved blending sounds from around the globe, with both Asian and European classical influences often finding comfortable spaces beside his synth pop sensibilities within his soundscapes. In the record stores of our minds you might also file some of Peter Westheimer tracks like Walking On The Edge or Elastic Smiles under mutant disco or divergent dance music.”

Check it out:

Soon on Left Ear Records: Shahara-Ja’s electro soul gem ‘I’m An Arabian Knight’

Australia’s Left Ear Records are planning the reissue of this cult record – Shahara-Ja’s I’m An Arabian Knight.

This great video of the late 1980s oddity gives us a taster. The label has so far reunited us with the Yoruba Singers, Brother Resistance, Starship Commander Woo Woo, Andre Tanker and Leong Lau.

More at Left Ear Records.

Evolution: Tamam Shud’s cult surf soundtrack

Taman Shud’s psychedelic soundtrack to the cult Australian surf movie Evolution has been lovingly reissued by Anthology Records.  It was recorded live in 1968 – whilst the film was projected upon the studio wall due to budget constraints – and was released in 1969.

Tamam Shud evolved from an instrumental surf band called The Four Strangers, formed in 1964 in Newcastle, New South Wales. Eric Connell was on bass guitar, Dannie Davidson on drums, Gary Johns on rhythm guitar and Alex “Zac” Zytnik on lead guitar. They released a sole single called The Rip for Astor Records before Lindsay Bjerre replaced Johns on guitar and lead vocals. As The Strangers in 1965 they issued the single Sad and Lonely and then changed their name to The Sunsets. The Sunset’s tracks were used for two surf films – A Life in the Sun (1966) and The Hot Generation (1967) – both directed by Paul Witzig. Later that year Peter Barron replaced Connell on bass guitar and the group, now based in Sydney, changed their name to Tamam Shud. ARC019-Cover-hi-res-300x300 Bjerre found the Persian phrase “tamám shud” (translated as “ended”, “finished” or “the very end”) in the closing words of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, a 12th century poetry collection.

The phrase also features in one of Australia’s most enduring mysteries. The Tamam Shud case, also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man, is the unsolved death of an unidentified man found dead at 6:30 am on December 1, 1948, on Somerton beach, just south of Adelaide, South Australia. A scrap of paper with the phrase was found in the man’s pocket. The death came during the escalation of the Cold War and the motive, the man’s identity, the cause of death and the piece of paper have baffled agencies from around the world to the present day.

Back to the music, this sounds like Four Sail era Love and moves through Syd Barrett era Floyd. There’s also bluesier territory reminiscent of Cream and Terry Reid. It’s a psychedelic trip alright.

ARC019-Back-hi-res-300x300For more on this and surf culture, visit http://anthology.net/music/