Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Brisbane Music Scene: From Punter To Performer, Part 4: Experimentation and Ambience

 In addition to weekly rehearsals and gigs with Headkase, I was also a part of an experimental, improvised noise art project called "Silent Partners" from 2002 until 2008. There was no official end to the project. It's just that nothing has really happened with it recently. 

It was another very theatrical act with masks, facepaint, and costumes. We didn't rehearse. We just showed up and played. No two shows were the same. And they were hit and miss. On bad nights, people would either walk out, or just stare blankly at us, wondering what was going on. On good nights (thankfully there were more of these), people would smile, dance and come up to us afterwards and ask us what the name of the third song was we played. We didn't have an answer because it was just a live improvised jam, made up on the spot.

There were three main members of Silent Partners: Jesse Breckon, the mastermind of the outfit, on vocals, theremin, and various other electronic gadgets and effects units. Markus on bass, and myself on keys. Various other members joined us at gigs and on recordings. Sometimes the band would consist of up to 14 people at a time. Members from bands such as The Follow, The Red Paintings, Suspect Seven,  Felinedown, The Wretched Villains, and Headkase. Brass, strings, lots of percussion and vocal effects too... as demonstrated in this sample. Note the many different genres featured. There were no limits:

And from 2003-2007, I was part of an ambient band called "Marlinchen". A couple of lineup changes to begin with, but we ended up with something pretty magical. It was quite a mournful sound we produced, but pretty as well. 
At our gigs, people would sit on the floor and close their eyes while they listened. A far cry from the crazy moshpits I was used to at Headkase shows. We had violin, operatic vocals, guitar, keys, glockenspiel and bass played with a cello bow. 

The following is an article about us in Time Off - 8 March, 2006:


Marlinchen are that special something that makes you thank God such a thing as music exists; evoking everything from the mythical worlds of fairy tales and children’s rhymes to the more adult Tubular Bells and artists such as Faith & Disease and Lisa Gerrard.
Skye (Violin). Photo by Ricky Sullivan.

Named after a character from the Brothers Grimm tale The Juniper Tree, guitarist Maxwell Blair says the Brisbane quintet strive to recapture that childhood innocence. “Marlinchen, or ‘Little Marlene’, is a German term of endearment,” he says. “Childlike virtue, wisdom and wonder inspire me.”

Evoking more atmosphere than many composers do with large budgets, their demo Drawing A Cat With the Aid of Two Coins will certainly conjure up childhood images you thought you’d forgotten: real or imagined. So how does one go about creating such an impression?

Max (Guitar). Photo by Ricky Sullivan.

“The music writing process will start with Max’s or my chords,” keys player Brett Hansen says. “I like to think of a mood, and then the creation just flows. After we have run through a new song, we often discuss what it evokes for each of us. All sorts of films come to mind.”

Since the group’s inception, the line-up has expanded gradually to that which you see today.
“Each addition to the band has taken the music in a slightly different, but advanced, direction. It was certainly not imagined this way when Max and I first started making music but it pleases me,” bassist Glen Miller says.

Glen (Bass). Photo by Ricky Sullivan.
“Everyone is open enough to let it change, which is important,” vocalist Jasmine Hulme adds.

So what can you expect from their live show?

“Shivers-inducing violin; Skye [McNicol] is such an amazing performer,” Blair says. “And the cinematic implications of our music allow listeners to wander throughout their imaginations; our music invites people to visualise a scene from a film, whether imagined or real.”

Jasmine (Vocals). Photo by Ricky Sullivan.
Marlinchen turn Ric’s into an enchanted forest (or whatever you imagine) Wednesday Mar 15.

Marlinchen Sample by RealBrettHansen

Marlinchen played our final show at the Troubadour in the Valley in March 2007. 

Members now live in faraway places like France, Japan and other parts of Australia. Some have pursued other interests, while others continue to perform music in other groups. 

In my next blog post, I'll continue talk about Headkase's journey, the release of our full length album, and the reception it received both in Australia and overseas. 

And coming soon: I'll talk about the ska/swing band I joined in 2010 called "Rad Rockets Are GO!"