Ollie Olsen has been making music since the mid 70’s in a mind boggling array of genres, from punk to post punk, from electronic to rock, from techno to trance, from electroacoustic to experimental, as well as bizarre hybrids of the above. He’s played in bands like The Reals and The Young Charlatans (with guitarist Rowland S. Howard), as well as Whirlywind, Hugo Klang, NO and Max Q with Michael Hutchence of Inxs fame. He produced three albums of ambient acid house as Third Eye in the early 90’s, acted as the music director for the seminal Australian film Dogs In Space, and also founded the Psy-Harmonics label with Andrew Till – a bastion of experimental techno and trance music (though also so much more) – boasting the likes of Black Lung, Shaolin Wooden Men, Zen Paradox and Hesius Dome on their roster. From experimental compositions to film and television soundtracks, to pop and dance music, to installation projects to DJ sets, to lecturing on electronic music, musically there’s not much Olsen hasn’t done. His latest project is Taipan Tiger Girls, a noisy instrumental collaboration with experimental drummer and synth obsessive Mat Watson (OtherPlaces), and feedback guitar droner Lisa MacKinney (Mystic Eyes). Together they make long and beautiful walls of noise, intricate and psychedelic; delicate and tough. On the eve of their debut release 01 (IT Records), we asked Ollie about some of the music that moves him.
karlheinz stockhausen – Gesang Der Jünglinge
I first heard this piece when I was studying electronic music under Felix Werder in 1975. It’s never left me, I listen to it a few times every year. It is so full of deep ideas it continues to inspire. I love the way the piece seems to contain universes into more universes. The piece was made in 1956 but these fantastic collisions that occur are almost like granular synthesis. I think the piece was inspired by the young Stockhausen’s experiences as a stretcher bearer during world war 2, thus the use of the young boy singing “song of the youth”. Stockhausen’s music translates into my own. He has been a presence in my own work ever since I first heard his compositions.
Velvet Underground – Sister Ray from White Light/ White Heat (Verve)
This remarkable piece of music, I first encountered when I was about 15, it’s stuck with me forever and has had a huge influence on me. Sister Ray I feel was deeply influenced by John Cale’s work with legendary minimalist composer La Monte Young. It’s a slow burn into deeply psychedelic territory, Mo Tucker’s wonderfully simple drumming, the powerful organ and the grinding of the guitars combine to make a dense beautiful piece of work. I love all of the Velvet Underground’s work. Certainly one of the most influential groups of all time.
Silver Apples – Oscillations from the album Silver Apples (Kapp)
My dear friend Lee Smith turned me on to this when I was about 17, back then it was next to impossible to find out anything about them, When I got the internet I managed to get in touch with Simeon from the Silver Apples which was fantastic, what a great guy and a real inspiration to my music.
Eliane Radigue – Islas Resonantes
I love all her music , but for me, this one piece has really stood out over the years. It is so deep and beautiful.
From Wikepeida: “Éliane Radigue (born January 24, 1932) is a French electronic music composer. She began working in the 1950s and her first compositions were presented in the late 1960s. Until 2000 her work was almost exclusively created on a single synthesizer, the ARP 2500 modular system and tape. Since 2001 she has composed mainly for acoustic instruments.”
She is greatly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism and her work clearly reflects that. It is highly meditative and beautiful.I’ve always been attracted to drone music and this piece of hers is one of my favourites.
SPK – Slogun (EMI)
Of all the music to come out of Australia in 79/80 this first release of SPK is the most intense, powerful and wonderful. I did see SPK live , but that was during their terrible “pop” phase. Noise music has always been an influence on me, having produced this kind of thing myself over the years. I love the intensity of it, when done well it can be a truly cathartic experience.
Nico – Janitor of Lunacy from Desertshore (Reprise)
I am such a fan of Nico’s music, it’s very hard to pick a single track, but Janitor of Lunacy is I guess, a “hit” of hers that I happen to love. Originally I heard of Nico via the first Velvets LP, I fell in love with her voice straight away. Then I discovered her solo LP’s and begun collecting them. I really love her work like “Janitor of Lunacy” because it’s just her voice and her playing of the harmonium. Her music has a depth to it that is hard to describe, but I just keep going back to it.
Suicide – Harlem from the album Suicide: Alan Vega and Martin Rev (Ze Records)
I am a complete fan of these guys, they influenced me greatly. I chose this track for it’s all round atmosphere and intensity. When I first heard Suicide, it would’ve been 1977, they totally blew my mind. That record stayed on my turntable more than most. As for the track “Harlem,” it has that fantastic sound like a siren running through it, the percussion sounds imply a real intensity, and Alan Vega’s vocals are truly amazing. The piece really does create a atmosphere of what Harlem must’ve been like at the time.
Boredoms – Vision Creatio Newsun (WEA Japan)
Boredoms are good friends of mine, I’ve been lucky enough to work with them a few times. Great people and innovative to a fault. I first met Boredoms about the time they did Vision Creation New Sun. They had an offshoot band called AOA and I organized and helped produce that album, a great experience and terrific friendships were made. Recently I performed with EYE as part of his piece called CIRCOM at Dark Mofo in Tasmania I also worked with Boredoms in the studio doing one of their “Super Roots” albums sadly this was not released as the record company deemed it too weird. It was awesome though!
John Chowning – Stria (1977)
John Chowning discovered FM synthesis, but beyond that he produced some truly amazing music with it. This piece “Stria” being one I really love.
John Cage – Sonata II For Prepared Piano (Naxos)
I truly love John Cage’s work, so hard to pick a piece..he was such an inventor and his entire works span so much space. I do love his prepared piano pieces though, which is why I have put one here. John Cage’s overall work is astounding, he was an inventor as much as a composer…always searching for different methods. The prepared Piano pieces are extraordinary, I drew a lot from his work and his approaches to music since an early age. I think it’s most apparent on my Orchestra of Skin and Bone LP that was greatly influenced by Cage and Harry Partch