Cyclic Selects: Claire Deak and Tony Dupé


Tony Dupé is a producer/engineer, arranger, composer and multi instrumentalist. He has produced around 100 albums for Australian and overseas artists, including Holly Throsby, Sui Zhen, Jack Ladder, Grand Salvo, Melodie Nelson, and Sophie Hutchings. He has also released two albums of his own music under the name Saddleback on local label Preservation. You can read our review of Night Maps here.

Claire Deak is a multi-instrumentalist and composer predominantly working in screen composition where she has scored animation, documentary, and television, including the 2017 series Other Peoples Problems and The Casting Game. She has also guested on albums by The Bon Scott’s, Lucy Roleff and Shanyio, playing everything from mandolin to organ.

Working from their base in Melbourne, their new album The Old Capital is released on impressive US label Lost Tribe Sound (William Ryan Fritch). It’s a gorgeous considered work of quiet contemplation and stillness where the two come together and really sound as one. It really is something special. We took the opportunity to ask both artists about some of the music that moves them.

Claire Deak:

Francesca Caccini – Lasciatemi Qui Solo
Caccini was a rare jewel of the baroque era. Not only was she a woman composer, she was a prolific and celebrated composer in her day. At the peak of her career, she was the highest paid musician at the Medici court and arguably the most famous female musician in Europe. She was the first woman composer to write an opera, some 5 years before opera even became a thing. She was the first composer in history to have music commissioned and performed outside their home country. Not much of her work has survived the past 400 odd years, but thankfully this heartbreaking lament (Leave Me Here, Alone) has.

Meredith Monk – Songs Of Ascension (ECM)
I could choose any collection of Meredith Monk’s and feel content. She manages to combine everything I love in music: experimentation, expression, the joy in performing, as well as the sense of space. Songs of Ascension was conceived as a site specific piece (in a bespoke reverberant tower) but the stunning album version was apparently recorded in a studio. I love its simplicity and ambiguous connections to time past.

Remember that scene when Maude Lebowski is painting a massive work in a harness? That’s Meredith Monk’s Volcano Songs playing to psych her up.

Frode Haltli – Passing Images (ECM)
This is an album I wish I had made. Psalm and Vandring are my favourite tracks but you get to travel more when you listen to it whole. Again, there is a fresh conjuring of time past. For me, it is wonderful to take in that a small ensemble of four created this stunning album. It is so rich and full, so perfect. I’m so used to relying on multitracking layers upon layers to expand, hide or reveal something. I love the way the instruments blend and blur. I adore this album. This was possibly the first time I felt the true expressive versatility of the accordion. The darkness and the joy, the grunt and the chorale. And oh my, those pitch bends!

Maarja Nuut & Ruum Muunduja (FatCat)
Apparently Muunduja means “shifter” in Estonian. This is such a dynamic album which effortlessly moves between innovation and tradition. It has the warmth of deep electronic synth bass, dense layers of noise, raspy violin loops and bittersweet vocals. Listening, I am always kept on my toes, leaning in, trying to anticipate but never able to pin it down or predict. I am currently acquainting myself with their new album together but I loved this previous collaboration and Maarja’s haunting debut solo record. We went to see them early last year in Melbourne. It was fantastic to watch two quiet humans dominate a beer-soaked carpeted room; one on laptop and various triggers and the other with violin, vocals and multiple pedals.

Gavin Bryars – Tre Laude Dolce for Cello III
I was lucky to meet this amazing human and have him mentor our album a little plus a film score that is about to go to mix. I attended the first year of his modern composition course at in the French Pyrenees. With newfound friends I ate a lot of excellent salads, cheese and pastries and drank a lot of wine at the local bistro for one week. I gained valuable insight into Gavin’s works and his creative practice. I crudely slapped together a little piece in the village church where I just kept playing, re-amping and shift-space-bar-ing playback in pro-tools to get a massive organ sound from a tiny melodica and vocals. Gavin is such a generous mentor and fascinating composer/ performer. His music is so varied and yet singular. It is hard to choose one work by him as so many inspire me. I love Tre Laude Dolce as a reminder of the beauty in less is more, and also for another connection bringing history to the present.

Tony Dupé:

Lhasa de Sela – Lhasa (Warner)
This album was made by this wonderful artist when in treatment for breast cancer that she subsequently died from aged 37. It’s a powerful context for an album and songs like “I’m going In” and “Rising” have brought me to tears. The album first hit me when I was feeling sad for myself but that sadness was transformed into a love of expression, ensemble playing and human beauty. It was recorded mostly live to tape which only means something if the songs are incredible and the arrangement is well considered. Tape and life are both finite and the focus and nuance in these performances is inspiring.

Lee Scratch Perry – Arkology (Island)
This is endless, seamless music and I listened to it extensively during a period when I worked in a record store in Sydney and then travelled each week to a room over a garage on a headland 2 hours south of Sydney. I had a split life for many years I’d spend half a week on Oxford street listening to everything old and new and the other half swimming on an empty beach, making records for folks and working on my saddleback records. Tape machine processing has always felt very musical to me and this 3 disc compilation could play all day in my one room flat without ever having a beginning or an end.

Various – Jazz et Cinema (Gitanes/Verve)
Compilation of late 1950’s and early 1960’s French underground soundtracks is rich with slow minimal instrumentals that have humour, style and wonderful internal conversations between melodic horns and woodwinds. I particularly love the tracks by Alain Gorageur who also arranged for Gainsbourg. (looking on Discogs he has 1082 arrangement credits).

Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (R&S)
This album seemed to suggest that music made itself and the sounds seemed to bubble out of the speakers like love poems from joyous machines. It was pure relief when those around me were knee deep in flannel shirts. This period of electronic music really made sense to me and rolled naturally into the next decade of German labels like Morr music which felt warmer and more conventionally song based.

Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal – Chamber Music (No Format!)
Malian Kora player and a French cellist meet somewhere really interesting. West African music has the most amazing rhythm and harmony and the cello is such a lovely singing instrument. I’m always interested to hear western classical instruments outside of their more familiar contexts and this combination of instruments is a real spray of timbres and frequencies. Of course as wonderful musicians they play into each other and keep you held mid air till it’s over.

Claire Deak and Tony Dupé’s The Old Capital is out now on Lost Tribe Sound. 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.