Don’t ask me how or why, but I was reading an article [PDF] the other day which was written in 1996, called “Australian Dub Morphs Now.” Oh my God…I’m such a huge nerd. The premise is that Australian artists in the ’90s were taking the essence of dub and morphing it into an entirely new sound. The experimental scene in the ’90s in Australia was something of a marvel given what was occurring elsewhere around the globe. Most of the attention of the outside world might have been focused on New Zealand (labels like Flying Nun, artists like The Pin Group, The Dead C…) but there was something going on in Australia that was pretty special. And, lo-and-behold, the paper cites the label Agrocalm — started by musicians Jasmine Guffond and Damien Sawyers — as well as their project Hiss. Specifically, the album Alien Bass Soundscapes, which the authors describe as, “inaudible for the most part through headphones and non bass-friendly speakers.”
There’s not much info available on the record, or its creators. There’s an interview from 2010 with Damien Sawyers (then of The Warm Feelings) in which he describe Hiss as, “a noize/soundscape band” that enabled him to both start a label and tour America. He continues, “After the tour I lost the plot for a while, had a bit of a life crisis and I ended [the] music project and was on a self-destructive path using heroin and dropped out of society into my own world.” This would have been during the late ’90s I imagine. Sawyers cleaned up after a few years, rehabilitated himself and earning a diploma. Soon after that he started playing music again, at first with other artists and eventually as a solo performer. I hope he’s doing well…
Alien Bass Soundscapes is a phenomenal minimalist ambient record. I mean…this could be the sound of isolation in the Arctic just as easily as it could be field recordings from another planet. Whatever the case may be, it’s perfect for those dim-the-lights, get-in-the-mood and bliss-out nights when you just want to be alone and at peace with yourself.
As far as I know it was never issued on vinyl, and CD copies are somewhat hard to track down. Nevertheless, it’s totally worth a listen.
Alien Bass Soundscapes
MediaFire DL Link
01. Agrocalm [MP3]
…then there are 17 tracks of varying lengths, none of which contain any audio. The last track, all of 24-seconds long, might catch you off guard.