Saturday, December 22, 2007

SonicFUZE #1

They're Here

My whole head hollows
As my lost spirit follows
In the end I don't know how
But I got there

That quote, taken from the song Blue Highs off EMF's second album Stigma pretty much explains the transition of my life that began in 1992 and ended in late 1996. For most of that entire period I was an angry and depressed young man and music played a huge role in getting through.

But, I have leaped ahead in time! So, for now, let's go back to around 1991. At the time I was 17 years old and completing my final year of high school. I wasn't much into music back then, and I wasn't into comics either. Back in the early 90s my schtik was writing and current affairs, they were my keen interests.

Back in the Dark Ages I lived at home with my Mum and her defacto partner. He was nearly constantly drunk and between him and my Mum, the house was run like a mini Soviet dictatorship. My sister and I were banned from the lounge room, that was the defacto's space, so when we wanted to watch TV, we snuck into my Mum's room (presuming she wasn't home) and turned the TV on at the lowest volume so that he wouldn't know we were in there.

Back in 1990/ 1991 they used to have music video shows on Saturday and Sunday morning (come to think of it, they still do!), but there was also a show that started around the time we came back from school.

One day, I was watching this show when I was gobsmacked by this (apologies for the crap quality):

O.K. that's fine as long as you believe
The only things moving don't mean a thing
Can you believe it, it's getting blue
Straight through, line for line, trash

Don't touch this
Don't touch this

To this day, more than 16 years later, I Believe remains the tool with which I try to shatter my ear drums while listening to music via my iPod or in the car. The song is a frenetic and blistering soundscape that assaults so many more senses than simply your hearing. The song is also incredibly dense, with so many layers of sound cascading on top of each other in an anarchic sonic rush.

So, I heard this song and saw this video and I was hooked! But, seeing how I was in my final year of high school, had no $ and lived at home that was, by and large, the last I heard of EMF until 1992 when I went to university...

One thing that happens is that when you live off $75 a week and that covers all your text books, stationary, transport and food, well you live in poverty! So @ RMIT University in Melbourne they had a lot of communal resources, one of which was a room where you could go and listen to music. The room had lots of couches and different listening stations where you plugged in your ear phones and tuned to whatever channel the guy at the desk told you to. You see, before you sat down on the couch, you would tell the guy what you wanted to listen to. So, on the first day I ever went in there, I chose to listen to Schubert Dip, EMF's debut album.

The time is early 1992. I'm living in a new world of hot girls, late night clubbing, heavy drinking, angst filled poetry, a creeping seduction of rave culture and the general deprived depravity of a first year university student where a pot of beer comes before the unaffordable text books. I am sampling this new hedonistic land of freedom and desperately searching for a new soundtrack to this bemused utopia.

So, I slink out of class and with a few hours to kill before returning to the stuffy locale of a lethargically laborious lecture theatre, I head to the music room on a hunch that I will discover something new and cool from the fabled lads of EMF. I slide on to the couch, slip on the earphones and swoon as a psychedelic melody envelops me...

So I am slip sliding away to Tranceylvania when a sudden siren tears through the sound barrier, heralding the arrival of the song Children. As new age becomes rampage I am drawn into the vortex. The pace keeps building, like an unattainable climax and I am reaching musical nirvana as I meet my first life long musical love.

Long Summer Days comes next and its breezy techno pop melts into a cheery and leery song about "when will I feel yours in mine", aka When You're Mine. Just in case we are having a little too much fun here, it all comes crashing down with the melancholic Travelling Not Running, with the line "I could have been anything for you", foreshadowing my own sentiments as I was, years later, dragged into a horrible relationship where the only silver lining was the music of Cha Cha Cha (more on that later).

Next up, well I am ready for this one, I know what to expect, an apocalyptic rush of 90s techno pop, the song I Believe. Ignoring all notions of good sense and the desire to preserve my own hearing, I adjust the volume knob, happily noticing a large empty black space after the number '10', how far can I push this el-cheapo student sound system? I intend to break MACH 5! "Love, love, love, love ... I believe, I believe sometimes I touch you, I believe ... love!" I want to scream the lyrics, jump up and scare the shit out of every snot nosed kid in the room as they witness me descending into a dervish of dancing as I am immersed into the end of time as I know it: "This is hopeless now as the minutes stall".

Somehow, I come out of that black hole, only to be snatched up by the next song which gives great aural, you could say it's Unbelievable!.

Seemingly lastless, don't mean
You can ask us
Pushing down the relative
Bringing out your higher self
Think of the fine times
Pushing down the better few
Instead of bringing out the clues
To what the world and everything anger to
Brace yourself with the grace of ease
I know this world ain't what it seems.

I am completely lost now, I am no longer at RMIT, I am somewhere else, floating in some unknown musictopia where Madchester meets Sesame Street for the saccharine sweet world that is Girl Of An Age. Right then and there I am having tasty visions of the endless goth, punk, raver, hippy girls who fill my life - in my dreams.

The next track, well it don't work for me, probably the only EMF song that doesn't fit, so I surge on to hear the controversial sample of Mark Chapman reciting the first two lines of Watching The Wheels - this version of the song Lies is apparently quite rare, so I have an uncommon pressing of this CD, because Yoko Ono successfully sued EMF forcing them to omit the sample from later editions. Incidentally, somewhere I have a 12 inch LP featuring a whole number of remixes for this song. I don't have a record player, so while I have never listened to this LP, I also have the single on CD, so all the remixes are on my iPod.

So here I am, this first EMF odyssey is almost up, save for Longtime which sounds like some sort of smooth jazz song that has landed in the middle of a punk/ techno world and doesn't quite know what to do with itself. There's a creeping madness to the song as it rushes to a crescendo only to be met by Julie Andrews:

The hills are alive with the sound of ... ecstasy, ecstasy ... E! M! F!

I don't think Sister Maria was on E, but Live at the Bilson, the Gang Of Six; James Atkin (Vocal), Derry Brownson (keyboards), Mark De Cloedt (drums), Ian Dench (guitar), Zac Foley - who sadly died in 2002 (bass) and their DJ Milf crank out Ecstasy My mind to my feet From us to you in a live, euphoric triumphal tour of their local club ...

And then it's done.

'If ever I'm short of a chord sequence I nick one from Schubert'
, Ian Dench.

At Mon Dec 03, 10:34:00 PM, Blogger Mark said...

wow J that is really nice mate....nice to know we affected your life in a positive way..

Be good and life will return the favour


At Tue Dec 04, 09:47:00 AM, Blogger JBL said...

OMFG!! It's Mark D from EMF. He's here at my blog. WOW! I'll be writing more about EMF soon.



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