Things move fast down at New Weird Australia, Blake Freele’s Pins, their second New Editions release, saw the light of day only a few months ago, and already there’s another three limited cd’s and free downloads available from Stuart Buchanan and Co. In this brave new digital age it is refreshing to see such care and concern taken with the context and execution of the periphery surrounding the music. NWA (I can’t use such an acronym without thinking “Straight Outta Compton”) and the New Editions imprint are bringing unknown musicians and new approaches to the fore in this country, and that’s something to celebrate.
Straight outta Sydney, Blake Freele mixes guitar improvisations with extended electronic techniques to produce a soundscape that hovers in the indeterminate space somewhere between waking and dreaming. That’s quite an apt metaphor really, as Blake thanks sleep paralysis for inspiration. To awaken and not be capable of movement due to a disconnection between brain and body must be a little disturbing, The Chinese supposedly say that a ghostly pressure has been applied to the sleeper, the phantasmagorical weight causing the subsequent paralysis.
It would be all too easy to trot out some reference points of artists working in a similar musical niche, but Pins works best when Blake finds his own distinct voice, as on “Bitter Some” and “Delirious Adjudicated”. The former’s locked-groove-like loop lends a needed rhythmic backbone to Freele’s drones and textures. Plus it sounds, to these old ears, reminiscent of Robert Hampson’s early Main releases, especially the Hydra and Calm EPs of 1991-92, not a sound often referenced in the intervening time, mores the pity. The drones and feedback on “Delirious Adjudicated” are regularly interrupted by a subtler form of ambience, possibly interpreting the sensations of Sleep paralysis in a curious, ever-advancing stasis that develops throughout the track’s fifteen-minute duration. Slowly a helicopter-like rhythm rises above the din and leads out of the box marked eviscerating into a gentler hypnotic soundscape somewhat similar to Colin Potter’s solo work of the last decade.
Elsewhere Blake sounds a little bit Hecker-esque, a garnish of Fennesz, a sprinkle of Pimmon and a touch of Frost (Ben, not Inspector), not bad reference points, by any stretch of the imagination. But Pins really hits a resonant tone with this listener when Blake concentrates on being his own musician and developing his own curious syntax. A musical syntax that is evidently there, but possibly needs some time to develop further. As Charles Mingus once said, “Exact perfection and exact imperfection are both perfection when they stand to be judged alone.”