Melbourne synth-punk legends Primitive Calculators working on first studio album since 1979

Melbourne synth-punk legends Primitive Calculators working on first studio album since 1979

Just in time for Halloween, another long-buried post-punk act comes snarling out of the grave, a little bit older, a little bit more demented, and with a little bit more dirt/blood under their fingernails. In this case, it’s Melbourne’s legendary synth-punk band Primitive Calculators, a sort of missing link between Suicide and Big Black, with a dash of Sex Pistols-esque punk rock sneer. Now, 33 years after the lads released their first single, “I Can’t Stop It,” they’re back in the studio, and working on their first new recordings since 1979. Recorded by famed Melbourne man-about-town Julian Wu and mixed and mastered by seasoned Yank producer Casey Rice, the album is slated for release in 2013.

With new tracks like “Sick of Myself,” an ode to the ludicrousness of being in a synth-punk band when you’re a dude in his mid-50s, and “Cunt Life,” a song written in 1977 by Primitive Calculators-related project The Moths, it sounds like the band’s latest will be as cheerily snotty as ever. The band reunited in 2009 when Nick Cave asked them to play All Tomorrow’s Parties; Primitive Calculators and Cave’s band, The Boys Next Door, were part of the same St. Kilda-based punk rock scene. In the 30 or so years since the band hung up their synths, appearances by classic Primitive Calculators tracks on Australian post-punk compilations have reignited an interest in their screeching, visionary tunes. Listen to “Cunt Life” below, which was released a few months ago as a 7-inch b/w “Sick of Myself” via Chapter Music.

• Primitive Calculators:
• Chapter Music:

FORMA to materialize OFF/ON off, I mean on Spectrum Spools this November

If PLVS VLTRA was an “uncomfortably catchy” excursion for John Elliott’s Spectrum Spools label, then consider the Brooklyn-based synth trio FORMA a casual stroll down a familiar sidewalk, on a cool fall evening, in… I don’t know, let’s say, Germany, the birthplace of kosmische musik.

FORMA’s self-titled full-length debut (TMT Review), released last year, has all of the components that one might expect of an album promoted by an Emeralds member; specifically, there’s the prominent and exploratory use of analog synthesizers, complemented by, as a press release puts it, a “torrent of live drum machine programming.” It’s all very reminiscent of the synth escapades put forth during the late 70s and early 80s. The album cover for FORMA even reminds me of the one for Brian Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land. Okay, so they’re not that similar, but let’s not pretend that artists just coincidentally choose desert landscapes as their album covers. Clearly, there’s some kind of supernatural force connecting the two albums.

What about album art depicting lava flows? FORMA’s newest album OFF/ON, due out November 12, reportedly displays a “darker” and more “aggressive” musical approach on the part of the trio. At the risk of overwhelming you with geological metaphors, let’s just leave it at that. Preorder the album here.

OFF/ON tracklisting:

01. OFF
02. FORMA313
03. FORMA278
04. FORMA286B
05. FORMA306C
07. FORMA339/333
08. FORMA293
09. FORMA358
10. FORMA315

• Spectrum Spools:

Ducktails announces new album on Domino, Domino’s pizza announces new duck meat topping

Ducktails started out as a solo project of Matt Mondanile, producing the chilliest of chillwave. I’ll step on a biased pedestal right now and come to say I’m a huge fan of Ducktails. I couldn’t be more stoked or psyched that the new Ducktails album The Flower Lane will be released by Domino on January 29, 2013. The fourth album follows last year’s Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics (TMT Review) and was mixed and recorded by Al Carlson, who is probably above DuckTales jokes, and the title track featuring Future Shuttle’s Jessa Farkas is streaming via SoundCloud below:

Well, I’m going to call my mom to tell her this Ducktails news using an impression of Scrooge McDuck (similar to Bane from The Dark Knight Rises). Oh yeah, and Domino’s doesn’t have a new topping — that was a lie.

The Flower Lane tracklist:

01. Ivy Covered House
02. The Flower Lane
03. Under Cover
04. Timothy Shy
05. Planet Phrom
06. Assistant Director
07. Sedan Magic
08. International Date Line
09. Letter of Intent
10. Academy Avenue

• Ducktails:
• Domino:

Pussy Riot’s appeal successfully frees one member, making it seem just a little more confusing as to why the other two are still in jail

Alright, everyone. It’s Hyperlink time. So, Pussy Riot’s appeal against the two-year prison sentence they got slammed with following a guerrilla protest against president Vladimir “Fascism kinda works?” Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral was, well, 33.333333% successful. As the BBC reports, the court that heard their case has freed one of the three convicted women.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, age 30, got her two-year jail term suspended today, on the grounds that she had been “thrown out of the cathedral by guards before she could remove her guitar from its case for the band’s ‘punk prayer’ back in February.” As for the other two members of the band — Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22 — they are still on the hook for the remainder of their sentences in a Russian prison colony. In their final statements to the court, Alyokhina warned that they “won’t stay silent” no matter where they are sent to prison, and Tolokonnikova urged the court to “quash this sentence” on the grounds that it’s “as clear as daylight that this was a political act, not anti-religious…” “We’re all innocent,” Alyokhina also told the court earlier in the hearing. “The verdict should be overturned. The Russian justice system looks discredited.” Yeah, kinda?

“We’re glad that Yekaterina Samutsevich has been freed, but we think the other two girls should also be released,” said defense lawyer Mark Feigin following the results of this latest less-than-satisfying plot point in the Pussy Riot saga. He then vowed that the appeal process would continue. Sigh. Buckle up, kids. Looks like there’ll be at least a few more non-jokey news stories from TMT.

• Free Pussy Riot:

Jim O’Rourke’s ATP festival in Tokyo cancelled; Wayne’s theory of “if you book them, they will come” immediately called into question

Much to the capitalized disappointment of the staff here at TMT, ATP’s I’ll Be Your Mirror Tokyo, which was originally set to be curated by Jim O’Rourke, has finally been euthanized, after months of being in a coma due to low ticket sales. As my colleague Jared Micah astutely pointed out back in March, “All Tomorrow’s Parties fancies itself a less-commercial festival, but you better book some bands that put asses in seats or the whole thing’s off, goddammit.”

Officially, however, the cancellation had less do with the draw of certain artists than the draw of the event for certain artists; a statement from ATP specifically points to venue availability, as well as “scheduling problems with artists” as the primary reasons for the event’s scrubbing. There’s no comment on whether ticket sales improved since the original postponement, but if O’Rourke performing Eureka with a 12-piece band wasn’t attractive enough before, I can’t imagine what would’ve motivated the public since then. Another opportunity to offer free ice cream frustratingly missed.

ATP are now working on an “exciting” event for 2013. In the meantime, check out our recently-posted overview of the I’ll Be Your Mirror event in New York here.

• All Tomorrow’s Parties:
• Jim O’Rourke:

C. Spencer Yeh releases full-on POP album Transitions on De Stijl

Sometimes I just want to listen to some good ol’ pop melodies. A fella can’t just listen to noise and free jazz all the time. But when I’m turning on the radio in the Taco Bell drive-thru, I can’t help but feel unsatisfied. I just wish intelligent people would make pop music, an artist with some goddamned self-awareness that can still write a hook. Well I must still be in a drive-thru, because someone just took that order!

Experimental composer, violinist, noisist, and Burning Star Core persona C. Spencer Yeh has established himself as a key figure in the avant scene and is now making his way over to pop music. Yeh has always dabbled with indie rock compositions, with a collection titled Songs 2002 recently reissued on cassette and a 7-inch, In the Blink of an Eye, both through De Stijl Records. Now Yeh’s first full-length pop record, Transitions, is available through the same De Stijl later this month.

The album’s single, “Whose Life,” can be heard below (via SoundCloud). And the whole damn album can be heard on the street (34 East 1st Street, NYC, to be exact) at the Silver Sound Box outside of Audio Visual Arts until October 13. Visitors are welcome to plug their headphones into the box at any hour of the day.

C. Spencer Yeh will debut Transitions to the world in a live setting at De Stijl’s CMJ event on October 19 at Death by Audio in Brooklyn. He’s put together The CS Yeh Band with Daren Ho and Ryan Sawyer, who has an improv quartet record coming soon with Yeh, Colin Stetson, and Nate Wooley.

So please pull around to the second window and receive your Transitions.

• C. Spencer Yeh:
• De Stijl:


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