Music and Book reviews

Browsing: Contemporary

Adventure Beyond

Artist/s: Starflight
Category: Contemporary, Pop
Label: Self-release, distributed by Mondo
Reviewed by

This is an album of pure pop music joy. From its highly produced opening track – the uncharacteristic single Phasers on Stun, though to the album closer, Starship Take Me Home, the overwhelming emotion is the joy of making music.…


Artist/s: Dead Letter Circus. Kim Benzie (vocals), Luke Williams (drums), Clint Vincent (guitar), Luke Palmer (guitar) and Stewart Hill (bass)
Category: Contemporary
Label: UNFD 070-A
Reviewed by

Well, I’m locking my gun in the cabinet with the Wedgwood china and discarding the key just to ensure that my penchant for political, environmental and social activism does not lead to a drift from the lagoon of pacifism to…


Going out on a limb, Karnivool is the best contemporary band in Australia. They are musically intelligent, exploring polyrhythms, independent harmonic layering, novel structures and chromatic melodic sequences. As drummer Steve Judd reminds us, toddlers can count to four. Possibilities…

Blackwattle Caprices. Music by Malats, Walton, Ross Edwards, JS Bach, Takemitsu, Tom Waits

Artist/s: Jacob Cordover, classical guitar
Category: Classical, Contemporary, New Music
Label: Cala Records CACD77017
Reviewed by

“Jacob Cordover is an exceptional guitarist and part of his measure is his ability to keep the customer waiting in order to keep the customer satisfied.” This is particularly the case in the well-known Serenata Española originally composed by Joaquín…

Alternative Rock

“Brace is relentlessly bleak lyrically, but to counter this, the music, though much heavier than on earlier albums, can be uplifting: music’s medicinal instincts twinkle in the shadows.”

Cat’s Squirrel

Artist/s: Merzbow and Oren Ambarchi
Category: Improvisation, Noise
Label: Hospital Hill (HHCD04130740)
Reviewed by

Cat’s Squirrel presents two of the world’s finest purveyors of noise music, in duo format for the first time. The legendary Merzbow (real name Masami Akita), Japan’s lord of noise, joins Australia’s loudest and heaviest noise guitarist, Oren Ambarchi. This…

Choral Music

Artist/s: Gian Slater and Invenio: Gian Slater (composer and director), Miriam Crellin, Georgie Darvidis, Gemma Tully, Bronwyn Hicks, Natalie Carolan, Lisa Salvo, Loni Thompson, Audur Zoega, Louisa Rankin, Jeremy Hopkins, Jem Savage, Tilman Robinson, Ed Fairlie, Sam Young, Ben Harrison, and Ben Taylor.
Category: Choral Music, Jazz, Pop
Label: Invenio Music (inv001)
Reviewed by

“Gian Slater and Invenio’s second album is a lighter, more lyrically-focused collection of eight compositions.”

Destination People Street

Artist/s: Moth People
Category: Contemporary, Indie, Jazz
Label: Synergy Percussion
Reviewed by

Artistic Director of Synergy Percussion, Timothy Constable, is the consummate musician, covering the spectrum of genres in his work as a percussionist and composer, from taiko drum extravaganzas, to classical interpretations and jazz. The ensemble’s latest venture seeks commissions for…


Artist/s: Hands like Houses. Matty P Cooper, lead guitar; Joel Tyrrell, bass; Trenton Todd Woodley, lead vocals, keyboard, programming; Alex Pearson, rhythm guitar and backing vocals; Matt Parkitney, drums
Category: Contemporary, Experimental Music, Rock
Label: Rise Records
Reviewed by

With their third album Dissonants and eight years under the belt, Canberra-based band Hands like Houses have well and truly ‘arrived’. Hands like Houses have toured extensively over the last couple of years, boosted by the support of the Oregon-based…

Dream Your Life Away

Artist/s: Vance Joy
Category: Contemporary
Label: Liberation LMCD0247
Reviewed by

My first encounter with Vance Joy’s music was when I walked in on a school ukulele band rehearsal. The group was learning his single Riptide, an intoxicating and addictive song with a seeming innocence and wit, which on closer examination,…

Feelin’ Kinda Free

Artist/s: The Drones
Category: Contemporary, Rock
Label: TFS Records
Reviewed by

“A major expansion of the sonic palette for The Drones.” The inclusion of synths, drum machines and more studio-treatment than any other Drones recording has intensified what has always been essential to this band. Enveloping memorable verse/choruses and lyrics delivered…


Artist/s: Andrée Greenwell (composer/voice/ukelele), with Julia County (soprano), Ewan Foster, Stephanie Zarka, Heather Lloyd (violins), Luke Spicer & Monique Irik (viola), Geoffrey Gartner (cello), David Trumpmanis (bass guitar/guitar/bass drum/electronics)
Category: Contemporary, Eclectic, Electronic Music, New Music
Label: Self-release
Reviewed by

“Andrée Greenwell’s concept CD, Gothic, demonstrates her musical and theatrical versatility across a range of genres and is unified by her selection of gothic poems.”


Artist/s: Resonaxis
Category: Contemporary, Rock
Label: Indidem IND003
Reviewed by

The second CD from this ambitious project combines cathedral organ and rock instrumentation built around the pure singing and songwriting of Brooke Shelley.  Combining her dual passions of renaissance polyphony and progressive rock, Shelley is joined on this CD by…

In black and white

Artist/s: Tango Saloon (featuring Elana Stone)
Category: Contemporary
Label: Newmarket Music
Reviewed by

This is a single: two songs. The Tango Saloon is an experimental tango group, which describe its work as ‘tango meets spaghetti western’ though, as it admits, it’s a bit more eclectic than that. The A-side (I guess – it’s…

Lady Sings the Viol: 700 Years of Songs for Voice & Viols

Artist/s: The Marais Project, Jennifer Eriksson director
Category: Classical, Contemporary, Early Music, New Music, Popular
Label: MOVE MCD 481
Reviewed by

Despite radical changes in composition processes in the last two hundred years and the introduction of electronic instruments and recording, Western orchestral instrumentation has changed relatively little. We accept it as normal to play musics from a very broad range…

Afro Beat
Ndakondwa (I’m Happy)

Some years ago my family and I travelled to Tanna, a remote island in the Vanuatu archipelago and stayed in a village near Mount Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano. On the first night in our grass-hut accommodation a…

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