April 04, 2007

NMATapes: A Treasury of 80's Australian Experimental Music

Nma.jpgWhen histories of Australian music in the late 70ís and 80ís are written, attention is generally heaped on the sweaty output of the pub rock fraternity. What gets far less exposure is the experimental music scene which was, at that time, bursting out of academia and finding its feet in a (slightly) wider community, thanks to the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre in Melbourne. This venue, which ran from 1976 to 1984, was committed to presenting performances of non-commercial and experimental music and mixed media to the public, free of charge. (Also, with little or no publicity beyond word of mouth and the occasional cheap photocopied flyer.)

One of the regulars at the CHCMC was the composer and sound artist Rainer Linz who, from 1982 onwards, began documenting the scene - both at the Centre and beyond - through the NMA magazine, an annual publication that lasted until 1992. Each issue of it was accompanied by a cassette of works by the featured artists, and now the music on those cassettes has been made available in its entirety online. Not only is it a valuable record of the scene, which includes pieces by such (relatively) big names as Jon Rose, Philip Brophy, Alan Lamb and Stelarc, but each issue was themed so the entire set fits together as nice little compendium of distinct, if occasionally overlapping, episodes. (Or, maybe not so little; the total size of all the zipped issues comes to almost 550 Mb.)

Because I donít have the benefit of Kevin-Rudd-enhanced super-broadband, I havenít downloaded the whole thing yet, but here are a few tracks from the couple of episodes that I have managed to shift on to my cranky old hard drive:

Essendon Airport Ė Martial Art (one of the "poppier" tracks in the set)
Alan Lamb - Night Passages (excerpt) (environmental wire music from the master)

You can download the set, or purchase them in CD-R form, from this site.

(And if you're interested in a more detailed history of the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre, check out this essay by one of the alumni, Ernie Althoff.)

Posted by Warren at April 4, 2007 09:39 PM | Experimental