Cyclic Selects: High Pass Filter


High Pass Filter were a mainstay of Melbourne’s live music scene in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, supporting some big name internationals like Fugazi, Tortoise and Lee Scratch Perry – which should give some indication of how diverse their approach is. They always seemed to be the point of difference on every lineup, equally comfortable, yet ill fitting with aggressive guitar bands or early electronica. Their ingredients were so eclectic, with guitar, drums, horns, turntables, electronics, synths and all manner of toys and weirdness conspiring to create their live electro dub sound. Over about a decade they released three albums, a few EP’s and a bunch of singles, and they’re adding to this with Nice Coordinated Outfit, a double LP compilation of studio recordings, a handful of live performances, remixes and edits. Given their approach always felt so singular and their influences were much wider than their contemporaries, it felt like an opportune time to dig a little deeper and ask Anthony Paine, Kelly Ryall, Anthony Paine and Larry de Zoete about the music that moves them.

Larry de Zoete (Drums)

Ken Booth – “Is It Because I’m Black?”
There’s a huge crossover between black American music (soul and funk), with Jamaican music. This Ken Booth cover of the Syl Johnson classic is a standout. It keeps the original groove and maintains the space, while adding a deep 70’s skank shifting the accents to the offbeat 3. Jamaica was a pretty troubled place when this was recorded and Ken’s voice is a sublime hymn from the downtrodden and oppressed.

The Police – “Can’t Stand Losing You” (from the album: Outlandos d’Amour)
Caught on to this track in my mid-teens, at the same time as I was getting into reggae for real. This really switched me on to Stuart Copeland’s drumming, which was an influence on my playing style and got me to think outside ‘rock’ parameters more. It’s essentially a ska/reggae verse with a rock chorus so opened my ears to how things could be mixed and matched in interesting ways. I tried to emulate a lot of Copeland’s playing when I was learning drums, which I sometimes found difficult – until I learned that he was using echo and delay units, which explained a lot.

Missing Brazilians – “Crocodile’s Court” (from the album: Warzone)
I’m a huge fan of Adrian Sherwood production and this is a lesser known early project of his, featuring a lot of the On-U Sound crew. Sonically it was a revelation with not only dub stylings, but throwing down an outright challenge to how things should sound. It breaks rules and forces the listener to ask questions about their assumptions: which I think all good music should do.

Anthony Paine (Bass, toys, tape-loops)

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (Columbia)
Expanded my teenage mind. So much murk. So much grunt. Such simple riffs and colliding, overlapping tape edits. My art teacher gave me his stack of old, thrashed Miles records in 1987 as he had just bough them all on CD, his loss.

Brian Eno – Here Come The Warm Jets (Island Records)
Studio as instrument. A friend loaned me a cassette of this and I had zero reference for where it fitted into the world of music. An assemblage of automatic words and some very silly sonic treatments – all adding up to a fantastic 70s singalong pop record.

Grace Jones – Nightclubbing (Island Records)
Sly Drum-bar.
Robbie Bass-speare. RIP
Before I knew what dub was, before I had a geographical compass point for these grooves I connected with the simplicity and sex of this record. So much space between the pristine sounds. One of those records that you can keep turning up and it doesn’t turn to mush.

Kelly Ryall – Guitar

Talking Heads – “Born Under Punches” (from the album Remain in Light)
Talking heads have been a solid influence on me from the time as a teenager I went to the cinema to see the Stop Making Sense film. An amazing concert film, part music part theatre. The songs from Remain in Light were always my favourites. Long form jams distilled into album arrangements. Born under punches in particular captured me. The way the guitar and bass interact, David Byrne’s lyrics and melody and the repeated group vocals. The Influence on HPF as a band was huge. Simple repeated guitar and bass lines over a drum groove, stretched out until it almost becomes trance like. The best.

Massive Attack – “Angel” (from the album Mezzanine)
Mezzanine is a great record and Angel has always stood out to me. It’s so dark. The beginning bass creeps inside you, amazing tension. The thing that got me and certainly influenced my playing in HPF was the way the guitarist on the track used a single note line to build towards the climaxes. I think because the rest of the track is so full, the spareness of the single note really cuts against it, providing perfect tension and release. This is the reason it gets used so much in film and TV soundtracks.

The Clash – “Armagideon Time” (from the album Black Market Clash)
I heard this track before I knew much about what Dub was. It really was my gateway drug. It already was an extended influence from the source, which The Clash were certainly paying homage to. It’s the bass that makes this track for me and the Dub like interplay between the brightness of the guitar and the deep bass groove. It was also the first time I had heard delays and reverbs being used in that classic dub way.

High Pass Filter’s Nice Coordinated Outfit is out now via La Sape Records. 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.