03 Feb Trading Tunes ‘PBS Drive Live Edition’ with No Sister

Late last year I somehow missed the Melbourne via Brisbane band No Sister‘s live-wire self-titled LP release. The eight track album is twisted, post-punk in the shape of Total Control, Preoccupations or Protomartyr. Had we not missed the release, the closing track ‘Passing The Divide‘ would’ve made our Top 100 end of year list. But as they say, better late than never and next Monday (the 5th of February) somewhere between 5pm and 7pm, they are playing at the annual PBS Drive Live. To get you psyched, No Sister have sent us over their Trading Tunes.

“It’s very possible to draw a line – perhaps a little crooked and convoluted – from the post-punk of 1970s Australia to the post-punk of today, and yet very few people think of it. Or if this line is drawn, it’s a simple musical lineage that speaks of ‘the music’ without all of the other things going on — the social, political, ideological, economic etc etc etc. Post-punk is often seen as a blurry term which barely contains the multitude of musical groups and artists that pervade it. And yet for No Sister, post-punk signals a certain approach to music-making that doesn’t see ‘music as simply music’, but music as a kind of history; with contexts, connotations, innovations and paradoxes. In its broadest sense, the kind of post-punk we’re interested is the kind that re-imagines and re-invents the rock and popular song. The following list is a very thin line of Australian post-punk and while there’s clearly some big names we cannot fit, we’ve found that these ten bands in particular have all given No Sister something interesting and inspiring; they are what makes us want to write songs.”


Essendon Airport – ‘Science of Sound’

“A pop sensibility, minimalism, free jazz, post-structuralism, witticisms, post-punk attitude, synthesiser, prepared guitar, recontextualisations, saxophone, a 1930s drum kit with a cymbal on a spring — this is the stuff Essendon Airport is made of. Formed via Clifton Hill Community Music Centre, initially featuring David Chesworth and Robert Goodge and later joined by others, Essendon Airport released two albums during their time and this song, ‘Science of Sound‘, comes from their second album Palimpsest. Essendon Airport’s preoccupations were just as musical as non-musical; the recontextualising of the sounds and language of popular culture, an understanding of the cultural and economic references of their instruments and a dual-desire to look beyond both the old traditions of modernism and the new stagnations of capitalism.”

Pel Mel – ‘No World From China’

Pel Mel were the new track through wild country during a time when Countdown was so heavily relied upon. Although the band did in fact perform on the program (though mimed), Pel Mel were refreshingly in contrast to the usual pap seen on the show. Sure ‘No Word From China‘ contains all the sharp and pointed sonic tropes of post-punk music as we’ve come to know it, but it is their ability in transforming this jaggedness into coordinated sonic craft which blurs the distinctions between neat and neglect. Born into a countdown to the new age Pel Mel embodied the make-do and make-shift attitude which (in some ways) helped define the initial vast post-punk landscape of the time, but were in no way make-believe (and they’re still going today!)”

Severed Heads – ‘Lamborghini’

“Perhaps the most seminal electronic-band to come out of Sydney in the late-70s are Severed Heads. Preoccupied by the use of tape cuts, loops and locked grooves (often as a result of ‘chance’), with further manipulation caused via guitar pedals and synthesisers, it was process-based music which oscillated between chance and conscious-craft. Severed Heads were as much about forming new ways of making songs as they were about re-amplifying sounds from their original contexts to place them in new and altered situations. It’s the musician as facilitator; political implications inextricable from their experimentation. And for all the cut-ups, loops and physical manipulations of sound, Severed Heads are still ridiculously danceable. We’ve included our favourite, ‘Lamborghini’, and it’s worth noting that this version was released before the Petrol EP, which contains the perhaps more ‘famous’ version of the song.”

Tsk Tsk Tsk / Tch Tch Tch / → ↑ → – ‘Pop Art’

“Signified visually as → ↑ → and verbalised as Tsk Tsk Tsk, Tch Tch Tch or even → ↑ →, the group stated in a pamphlet for their 1981 ‘Fuck Dance – Let’s Art’ Sydney Tour that their mission was “to articulate problematics… dealing with issues that are cultural, ideological, political, historical, linguistic and semiological. And perhaps occasionally artistic. (But only occasionally)”. Founded alongside Essendon Airport via the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre in the mid-70s, → ↑ → (pronounced Tsk Tsk Tsk, Tch Tch Tch or even → ↑ →) is less a band, and more of a concept that has both everything, and absolutely nothing, to do with music. (Mostly) made up of Philip Brophy, Maria Kozic, Leigh Parkill, Jane Stephenson and Ralph Traviato, → ↑ → (pronounced Tsk Tsk Tsk, Tch Tch Tch or even → ↑ →) centres on making itself uncentered and indefinable as it spans music, performance, film and visuals; from four-hour adaptations of Andy Warhol’s novel A, to performances of durational testing where a single note was sustained for over half an hour.”

SPK – ‘Sheer Naked Aggression’

“SHEER. NAKED. AGGRESSION; noise as confrontation. It is music that is both incredibly contextual, especially through its attempt to articulate its own version of politics via references to Marxism and psychiatric institutions. At times blatantly industrial, at other times inconspicuously commercial and at other moments strangely tranquil, SPK still feel progressive and contemporary; it still feels like the punk or pop song of the future and, like Severed Heads, the group’s experimentation is always rooted in a simultaneous desire to dance, or at least move. SPK knowingly worked within histories of rock music, as well as forming in a nascent electronic community – both of these circumstances, plus their political aesthetics, seemed to have given SPK a perceptively wide imagination for how sounds can be endlessly transformed, shaped and re-shaped. Perhaps one of Australia’s most overlooked international exports.”

Blank Realm – ‘Violet Delivery’

“The brilliant music journalist Andrew Stafford once passingly categorised Blank Realm as “determinedly lo-fi” and while Stafford has given the band numerous dizzying compliments, this little phrase always struck as the most apt. ‘Determinedly’ makes sense; Blank Realm always seem to have purpose and thought behind their style and songs. Even when it’s improvisational one gets the impression it’s never some goal to ‘feel’ the moment, but has purposeful style and contexts outside of itself. What started out as a noise band in mid-2000s Brisbane has spent ten years expanding and morphing into sculpted, tight art-pop songs that have purposefully retained their stylistic noise and texture; the Blank Realm personality. ‘Lo-fi’ is less a style for Blank Realm than an ethic. They’re obviously brilliant song writers but it takes effort to imbue a pop sensibility with styles and ways of playing that are almost anti-pop, anti-melody. Lo-fi is the purposeful decision to keep something dirty, perhaps something underground, or something that refuses commercial attributes. As a side-note, when No Sister was still forming and finding itself in Brisbane in 2014, we rehearsed at a storage centre where only one other band also rehearsed; Blank Realm. It felt metaphorically appropriate that they should be two floors above us, and there’s still the fond memory of the centre manager characterising them as “hardcore, kinda metal, heavy stuff” (the manager also thought we were a folk band). ‘Violet Delivery‘ is taken off the band’s fourth album Grassed Inn, a later album in Blank Realm’s stylistic trajectory from noise to noise-pop.”

Cured Pink – ‘Champagne’

Cured Pink may be the Australian band that works most knowingly in some kind of post-punk, avant-garde experimental ‘tradition’ — sometimes it’s painful to speak this way, but other times such hazy categories feel necessary. Cured Pink have metamorphosed from various iterations from the group’s first self-titled release back in 2010. The explicit nihilism found in these early recordings have a more Glenn Branca/Cop-era Swans energy which exhibits a type of deadening/realm-like feeling found within SPK’s earlier brand of dissonance. Yet As a Four Piece Band is more refined, controlled and if not ‘concentrated’ without losing the thing we like to call ‘spirit’.”


Marcus Rimondini

Managing Editor & Music Editor - Follow on Twitter