Again, the kind of 60s-ish psychedelic brew that I have always been a sucker for – and still with the wild animal thing going. This newish band hails from Melbourne and towards the end of last year did some well-received gigs around London. Maybe they’ve even relocated there by now. I should keep up with these things. Anyway, here’s their first album – I’m in Your Mind Fuzz. I find the vocals a bit limited and irritating on repeated listening and they don’t quite have the melodic grasp of someone like Pond (remember Pond?) but they do have a great sprawling enthusiasm that enables them to sound like garage bands, British R&B and a whole clutch of ‘underground’ bands from the era (Jethro Tull ><Canned Heat – the flute!)
That’s the most exciting thing about these bands digging into the past – they’re never precious or revivalist about their inspiration – it gets remixed in the most unexpected ways, so that they happily riff on The Young Rascals as much as Buffalo Springfield or whoever. It has a period inspiration, but it’s so mangled and mashed you actually hear something quite different, for a later generation’s wanderings. I love it. I think bands like Ty Segall and friends, Thee Oh Sees, remember Sic Alps? Wooden Ships – there’s a lot of it about, but it never feels stale or predictable.
That’s tradition in a good way.
Digressing for a moment, for some reason I don’t get this buzz with the wave of so-called Zombie Formalists – similarly returning to old issues of abstraction and gesture for painting. In theory, there ought to be a similar sense of rediscovery. Talking with a much younger acquaintance about the merits of Oscar Murillo for instance, I tried to float this comparison, with limited success. Murillo’s stuff seems thin to me, in that you get the abject materials thing, the sub-Schnabel captions, and desultory drop-sheet accretions, but it points too much to Schnabel. If you want to look to the 80s, then I think you should be mixing in say, Haring with Taaffe (in his Bridget Riley phase) as well as looking back to dudes like Tapies and Burri for a richer brew. So far I don’t get that generosity or imagination from Murillo. Mostly I get the the big scribbly thing with a crayon or whatever cut up and reassembled/sewn but looking fairly perfunctory as negating gesture. Actually what it reminds me of is the kind of scribble you do when you’re trying to get a ballpoint pen to work on some spare paper, blown up to an extravagant scale.
But apparently there is a younger generation that find this mark-making valid or compelling, so I might be just showing my age – in the visual arts at least. But I tend to think Murillo is small beer all the same.