Cyclic Selects: Great Waitress


Great Waitress (AU/DE) is the collaborative trio of Laura Altman (clarinet), Monica Brooks (accordian) and Magda Mayas (piano). Formed in 2009, the group has since performed at major festivals and events in Australia and across Europe and Scandinavia. They released their debut album ‘Lucid’ in 2011, ‘Flock’ in 2014, and ‘Hue’ this year, which we suggested “squeaks, rattles reverberates, shimmers, converges into a truly unique organism, one that feels not just far beyond the sum of its parts, but also, oddly enough quite untouched by human hands.” You can read that review here. With such a unique approach to music and improvisation, we thought it would be fascinating to hear from the band as a whole, and ask about some of their influences.


Grizzly Bear – Yellow House (Warp)
This album was first introduced to me by a composer friend of mine. It was a big inspiration for him, and now I keep returning to it for inspiration and new discoveries. For me, the album as a whole and each piece on it is a gem. I admire their musicality and their attention to detail. The arrangements are beautiful. There is real intuitive sense of movement/motion, as well as space, which is something I attempt to move towards in my improvising/composing. 

Diane Cluck – Monarcana: Home Recordings 2001-2004 (distributed by Very Friendly)
My impressions of this collection…. Real and raw. Lo-fi. Weird. Curious. Incredibly beautiful. Exploratory. Free… Brimming with passion and honesty, strength and fragility. Her voice, lyrics, playing are all entwined and create something that feels so whole and alive to me. I read somewhere that she describes her own music as “intuitive-folk”… sounds pretty apt! I always find her music refreshing and inspiring.

Espen Reinertsen – Forgaflingspop (SusannaSonata)
I’m a huge fan of Espen as a saxophonist, particular projects such as Streifenjunko, his duo with Eivind Lønning. This ‘solo’ album, however, was such a surprise! I’m perpetually in wonder and adoration of this masterpiece. The care and attention. The quiet focus, patience and musical integrity behind it. It manages to incorporate, in a beautiful harmonious relationship, so many things that I love in music… The arrangements, harmonies, melodies, textures, blending, integration of all the sonic material, the sense of space and timing. And what a sweet voice! I wish I could understand Norwegian….


Moondog – Moondog (Columbia)
Jamie, my music teacher, introduced this to me as a teenager. I’d immediately dismissed it as medieval re-enactment dude music, based on the cover art. Jamie went on to explain parts of Moondog’s story. I felt like quite the royal dickhead after the first listen. Anyway, the petulant ignorance having subsided a bit over the years, if I’m ever dislocated from the grandeur of music I often go back to this. Big speakers. Wait for Theme to wash the glory back through the wax in my ears.

Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity (Capitol)
My mother had purchased this LP as a beautiful mistake. Hoping for an environmentalist’s critique of nuclear power in guitar song-form, I think she may have been initially disappointed. Nevertheless, each time it resurfaced from my old man’s record collection it’d beckon a different set of questions about music and sound; an almost-stoner-like conversation about the politics of technology. I’m not a die-hard fan of Kraftwerk, but I like that this album makes me think about listening differently. Also, I just like how this record can remind me of the peculiar way in which we become familiar with ideas in music.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced (Track)
Yeah, look, I’ll never get sick of listening to this. Probably because I first heard it at a time before I wanted to know what was going on in music to make it sound so bloody lovely. I’d still be more satisfied with the explanation that May This Be Love was made out of 110% magic rather than a technical breakdown. Also needs to be listened to at maximum volume for total effect.


David Sylvian – Manafon (samadhisound)
Sylvian is one of my favourite singers. This album in particular is so beautiful and haunting, almost hypnotic. But its hard to choose one album of the many he released.
Its always inspiring for me to go back to this one. I love the combination of the improvised soundscapes/music and how it gets contextualised in a new and different way by Sylvian sculpting songs around and out of the improvised performances.

Son house – Raw Delta Blues (Not Now Music)
I have been listening to Blues a lot, particularly in the past 10 years or so. Again, impossible to decide on one artist or album. I think this music finds its way into my music, even if the influence seems very abstract.
Something about the purity and basic musicality I hear in Son House, I would like to achieve when I improvise.

Iancu Dumitrescu – Pierres Sacrées from “Iancu Dumitrescu” (Edition Modern)
In the last couple of years I started listening to Romanian Spectral music. In particular Horatiu Radulescu and Iancu Dumitrescu. This piece, Pierres Sacrées, is amazing, mainly composed with contact mics inside the piano, with various extended techniques. It has such an unpredictable energy though everything seems so organic and logical. It is rough and distorted at the same time sophisticated  and flows in such a musical way.

Great Waitress
Chris Abrahams Streaming (Vitamin)
Chris’ music is an influence on all of us. His approach to the piano, keyboards of various kinds and music in general is so unique and strong and beautiful. Given that he is very involved in the music scenes both in Australia and Berlin, we all had a chance to spend time with Chris, hear him play concerts and collaborate with him. This album in particular is a favourite of ours.

Hue is available via another Dark Age. You can find it here.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.