Contemporary | The Music Trust

The Flood. Music by Michael Hannan, lyrics by Janis Balodis

Isabella A Cappella, The Flood Band
A cappella, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, Popular, Soundscape
Wirripang Wirr 073
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

Soundscapes and song, heartbreak, hope and humour accompany an aural promenade through the streets of Lismore. The town of Lismore lies in a flood-prone area of the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. Those floods are illustrated here in a recorded version of a large-scale music theatre work which took place in 2004 –… continue reading »

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

Jacob Cordover, classical guitar
Classical, Contemporary, Music, New Music
Cala Records CACD77017
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“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 Malats for piano, but a work lending itself superbly to classical guitar, here arranged by… continue reading »


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
Contemporary, Experimental Music, Rock
Rise Records
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

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 label, Rise. They are quickly impacting on audiences, rising through the ranks as support bands… continue reading »

Sheltering Sky

Drowning Horse. Kim McConchie on vocals and noise, James Wills on drums, Brendan McGrath and Michael Larkins on guitars and Robin Mander on bass
Contemporary, Metal
Art as Catharsis
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Perth doom/sludge/blackened drone band Drowning Horse offer darkly shimmering, grim sublime-scapes for a post-apocalyptic world. Featuring Kim McConchie on vocals and noise, James Wills on drums, Brendan McGrath and Michael Larkins on guitars and Robin Mander on bass, Drowning Horse’s music is moving, emotional, intense, but also extremely hypnotic and immersive, and I think this… continue reading »


My Disco. Liam Andrews, bass and vocals; Benjamin Andrews, guitar; Rohan Rebeiro, drums
Contemporary, Punk
Temporary Residence
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Severe is formed in the space where explosive streams of percussion and sublime clouds of noise converge. I don’t think I’ve ever been so struck by the level of focus that emanates from the fourth album by Melbourne trio My Disco. The music is extreme, in its lyrical refinement, rhythmic hypnotism, sonic attention to detail,… continue reading »

This Machine

FourPlay String Quartet. Lara Goodridge - violin and vocals, Shenzo Gregorio – viola, Peter Hollo - cello and vocals, and Tim Hollo – viola and vocals
Contemporary, Eclectic
Top Shelf
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Fourplay is not your regular string quartet. With two violas instead of two violins, their sound is immediately different, but they also use electronics and vocals to concoct a big sound, at times more reminiscent of a rock band. They formed in 1995 and initially played mostly covers of songs from a wide variety of… continue reading »

Taking Pictures

Jo Lawry, singer/songwriter, vocals, guitar. One track a duet with Sting
Contemporary, Folk, Jazz, Pop, Rock
Fleurieu Music
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Jo Lawry is a singer/songwriter from South Australia currently living in New York. She is best known as a backing singer with Sting and has been touring the world in his band. She was also featured in the documentary about backing singers, 20 Feet from Stardom. When she was touring with Sting a couple of… continue reading »

Cloak of Ash

Hope Drone
Contemporary, Metal
Relapse Records
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

Cloak of Ash, by Brisbane band Hope Drone, is a monumental and affecting collection of seven extremely cohesive songs. This music is very evocative. It made me imagine several images, such as precipitation: rain clouds form, thunderheads rumble, currents of air swirl, torrents of rain fall, floods surge, mist and droplets shimmer. Something about the… continue reading »

I See Seaweed

The Drones
Contemporary, Rock
TFS Records
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

The Drones are perhaps the most important Australian rock band creating music today. While this is a big statement, and one that reflects my own admiration of the literary (and noisy), there is much to love about this group, both lyrically and sonically. Featuring Gareth Liddiard on guitar and vocals, Fiona Kitschin on bass, Dan… continue reading »


Dead Letter Circus. Kim Benzie (vocals), Luke Williams (drums), Clint Vincent (guitar), Luke Palmer (guitar) and Stewart Hill (bass)
UNFD 070-A
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

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 the tsunami of violent extremism. (Endnote 1)  My sexagenarian status may render me inept at… continue reading »

Sanctuary. A meditation on memory, identity, family and the power of regeneration.

Gary Daley
Classical, Country, Jazz, Rock
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

This is one of the most impressive and disturbing releases I have heard in recent times. Disturbing? It is difficult to disentangle the inherent power of this music from personal associations. Okay. Look, there is nothing unusual about me. I have been voted most boring man in Glebe and Annandale eight years in a row,… continue reading »

Paper Planes. Film score by Nigel Westlake

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Westlake. Performers include Michael Keiran Harvey, Riley Lee, Hannah Coleman, Cold Chisel, Lior. Film directed by Robert Connolly, starring Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington.
Classical, Contemporary, Film Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1477
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Based somewhat loosely on a true story, Paper Planes is a film for children scored by Nigel Westlake. It’s the highest grossing Australian children’s film ever. The original true account described on the ABC’s Australian Story (see link below) is about a young adult, Dylan Parker, who is a keen distance flyer of paper planes…. continue reading »


Storm the Sky. Daniel Breen, vocals; Will Jarratt, clean vocals; Andy Szetho, guitar; Lachlan Avis, guitar; Benny Craib, bass; Alex Trail, drums
UNFD 055-A
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

This week I viewed favoured images from the Hubble telescope. I tried to get my head around the scale of just one galaxy, not the entire universe, but couldn’t. Then I watched a TED talk where the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran talked about our brains. He described how this ugly piece of jelly-like matter can fit… continue reading »


The Tango Saloon
Experimental Music, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Tango
Romero Records and Newmarket Music NEW3342.2/ROM010
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

Any band that describes itself as experimental tango meets spaghetti western with a dose of film score, rock, pop, gypsy, jazz and electronica thrown in for good measure is going to grab my attention. The Tango Saloon makes music that is indeed Piazzolla meets Morriconi and Equivel. I first came across them when they appeared… continue reading »

to your poverty quietly go

Contemporary, Experimental Music, Rock
Newmarket Music and Romeo Records
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

The second album by Melbourne experimental rock ensemble Umlaut is a cinematic, restless and beautifully arranged collection of songs. At only 32 minutes long I was definitely left wanting more – I wish I could walk around in the film-world scored by Umlaut, a place built with slightly distorted dimensions. At first it seems like… continue reading »

Cat’s Squirrel

Merzbow and Oren Ambarchi
Improvisation, Noise
Hospital Hill (HHCD04130740)
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

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 album is a pair of fifteen minute-long improvisations – recorded live at the Campbelltown Arts… continue reading »

The Worry

Contemporary, Electronica
Future Classic
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

On The Worry, the third album release by Sydney trio Seekae, twelve often minimal, moody, and finely balanced tracks are offered, showcasing the burgeoning songwriting and arranging abilities of Alex Cameron, George Nicholas and John Hassell. The trio are also credited with production. The ‘traditional’ songwriting aspect of The Worry is elevated by the trio’s… continue reading »


Darren Harts (Harts), composer, performer
Contemporary, Disco, Electronic Music, Funk, Soul
Offtime Music 3967772
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

One of the pearls of wisdom offered by awesome guitarist, Bob Spencer, of Angels and Skyhooks fame, was that it isn’t the number of notes you play, but where you place them. Daydreamer is the first album I’ve listened to in a very long time which provokes contemplation of that truism. Darren Hart, stage name,… continue reading »

Destination People Street

Moth People
Contemporary, Indie, Jazz
Synergy Percussion
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

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 40 composers to each create pieces lasting 40 seconds for a celebration of the group’s… continue reading »


The Kite String Tangle
Contemporary, Electronic Music
Warner Music 5419627362
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

The brave new world of electronic music is actually quite old now, first truly established in art music during the 1950s through the likes of Stockhausen; however it has been made accessible to the masses over the last few decades and spread its wings across the music style spectrum. Unbeknownst to many, Australian-based wunderkind, Michael… continue reading »

Sons Of No Guns For We Are Anomalous

Song Fwaa
Contemporary, Jazz, New Music
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Song Fwaa is the name of a Sydney based art jazz, new music trio consisting of Martin Kay (alto saxophone), David Reaston (acoustic nylon 8-string guitar with effects) and Jamie Cameron (drums and cymbals). In their second album, Sons Of No Guns For We Are Anomalous, they continue to explore experimental composition techniques and the… continue reading »

Visible Six and The Best of Visible

Post by , October 3rd, 2014

Bold statement: The only way folk or popular music has ever progressed or developed is through the impact of multicultural influences. Consider one of the primary and most far reaching examples: the impact of the slave trade that brought Africans to the Americas. Now, of course I’m not saying this was a positive experience for… continue reading »

Winanjjara – The Song Peoples’ Sessions

Warren H Williams and the Warumungu Songmen. Sung in Aboriginal languages
Contemporary, Indigenous Australian
2 CDs. ABC Music 279 6239
Reviewed by , October 3rd, 2014

Winanjjara means song man in the Northern Territory language of Warumungu. This double CD by Warren H Williams and the Waramungu Songmen is a major project that is part of an important Federal Government initiative known as The Song Peoples’ Sessions. The project has developed collaborations between traditional and contemporary Australian indigenous musicians to support… continue reading »

Dream Your Life Away

Vance Joy
Liberation LMCD0247
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

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, explores darkness and vulnerability. Joy, a.k.a. James Keogh, is a Melbourne-based singer, songwriter and uke… continue reading »

Scattered Reflections

Adult Contemporary, Contemporary, Music
Independent SENSOCD333
For websites, see foot of review
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Lior’s latest album, Scattered Reflections, is at its best when it explores human fragility and this is particularly potent when referencing those with whom he is the closest. The simple, unadorned lullaby, My Grandfather is a biographical song of the relationship between the two men. Watch the video at Lior’s website and I… continue reading »

Network of Lines

Tilman Robinson
Electronic Music, Jazz, New Music, Rock
Listen/Hear Collective
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Network of Lines is a suite in ten parts, nine of them written and arranged by composer/trombone player Tilman Robinson. The tenth is an arrangement by Robinson of a piece by songwriter Sean O’Neill. There are no distinct beginnings or endings, each track slowly and effortlessly dissolves into the next. The music is played with… continue reading »

Sign of Life

Strange Days on Earth
Contemporary, Electronic Music
Self-release online. Purchase from website.
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

Strange Days on Earth is a stage name adopted by singer-songwriter Andy Downer. On Sign of Life, Downer does all the singing and programming on what is essentially an electronic pop album, A few other musicians appear on several of the tracks and Grammy Award-winning engineer Bob Katz was contracted to do the mastering. Downer… continue reading »


The Black Arm Band Company
Contemporary, Indigenous Australian
Self-release. Purchase via the website.
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

The Black Arm Band is a vital part of Australia’s cultural identity.  They describe their work as music of the Australian Indigenous experience. It was formed by director Steven Richardson in 2005 and takes its name from the derogatory term that Prime Ministry John Howard used to denigrate attempts by some historians to recognise the… continue reading »


Contemporary, Rock
Indidem IND003
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

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 renowned organist David Drury, Matt Roberts on drums, Adam Bodkin on bass, and Richard Hundy… continue reading »

Ndakondwa (I’m Happy)

Post by , May 1st, 2014

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 truck pulled up and the young men of the village converged to unload all the… continue reading »

Real Feel

The Holidays
Contemporary, Pop, Techno
Liberation LMCD 0237
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

After four years The Holidays, a Sydney-based indie-pop band, have released their second album, Real Feel. How does one describe the sound? It’s rich, harmonically warm, techno-infused, ethereal pop. But such a description does little justice to an album which explores such depth of feeling and complexity of timbres and issues. Indeed, what I cherish… continue reading »


Post by , May 1st, 2014

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 beyond this are enticingly infinite. All facets of the band’s technique are masterful. They are… continue reading »

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

The Marais Project, Jennifer Eriksson director
Classical, Contemporary, Early Music, New Music, Popular
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

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 of genre and period on our ‘modern’ orchestral instruments. However, ‘pre-modern’ instruments, such as those… continue reading »

Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu (Together We Are Strong). The Song Peoples Sessions

Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen
Contemporary, Indigenous Australian, World
2 CDs, box set with large booklet. Barkley Regional Arts Or ABC Music Shellie’s website:
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Last year I wrote a rapturous review of the Winanjjara double CD by Warren H Williams and the Warramungu Songmen. Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu (Together We Are Strong) by Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen is the second release of the culturally significant project knows as The Song Peoples Sessions. The project facilitates collaborations between traditional… continue reading »

Sarah Blasko. I Awake

Sarah Blasko, with orchestra
Dew Process/Universal Music DEW9000501
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Sarah Blasko. It’s the voice. You can wrap it in anything you like, or not at all. Some singers are singers. Blasko is a soul-smith. She reaches into the core of herself and picks out the seeds, slowly. It ain’t pretty, but it is beautiful. I Awake is a risky business. There are strings, lots… continue reading »


Lior, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Nigel Westlake composer and conductor
Classical, Contemporary, World
ABC Classics 4810678,
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

There have been odd times with Nigel Westlake’s works where I have sensed that he has held his ‘soul-laid-bare’ card close to his chest. With Compassion, however, that card is on the table – in spades. Compassion is a series of seven melodies, all but one written with the Israeli-born Melbourne inhabitant Lior, whose body… continue reading »

In Black and White

In black and white

Tango Saloon (featuring Elana Stone)
Newmarket Music
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

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 a CD) is a dramatic tango, with Elana Stone’s vocals giving the right type of… continue reading »

Adventure Beyond by Starflight

Adventure Beyond

Contemporary, Pop
Self-release, distributed by Mondo
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

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. A vague science fiction feel bookends it, but the body of the album is very… continue reading »

Stories of Ghosts

Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier
Contemporary, Rock
Intercorps/MGM, 2012
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

I conclude this review on the day that Australian female rock icon, Chrissy Amphlett died. There is a slight synchronicity – Deborah Conway, like Chrissy Amphlett, appeared and thrived in a male dominated industry, in no way kowtowing to sexist assumptions of what women in rock should be. Deborah Conway has carved out a unique… continue reading »

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