On a rainy spring night in Melbourne, an ominous collection of tones climbs from the dimly lit band room at Northcote’s Bar 303. This sound is attributed to the Fringe 2016 event Analogue Redux, organised by the notorious and enigmatic Clan Analogue. As part of their weekend Fringe series at Bar 303, which included a twelve-hour non-stop performance marathon by Michael Mildren, Analogue Redux serves as a coming together of lovers and performers of analogue electronic music.
In the centre of the band room stands three tables covered in a black sheet, with a single mixer in the middle. There’s a slight angle to the positioning of the tables, on account of the fact that the building which now houses Bar 303 used to be a slaughterhouse. As the night begins, a group of people of all demographics each clutching a beloved piece of analogue gear, myself included, get ready to jam. The beauty of Analogue Redux is that it has provided a two-hour space for individuals to bring a piece of gear, and jam with other like-minded individuals. I brought along my Critter Toy Piano and an array of effects and loop pedals to run it through, and the gear brought by my fellow lovers of analogue makes me feel like a kid on Christmas. I get to see an original 1970’s Korg MS20, a Kaos Pad, a 1980’s Roland Juno and a Monotribe just to name a few. Groups of three or four people are put together by the organisers, and one by one they unite on stage and create music from nothing, feeding off each other and finding a groove somewhere.
The sheer range of material produced by the eclectic group is nothing short of astounding, as people who have never met one another find a common musical ground and gel. Largely abstract and ambient, the jams each last a period of 20 minutes, and become unhinged, living, breathing expressions of improvisational and raw creativity. Seeing so many synthesisers and gear used to create such interesting music is a joy to myself and others who have a passion for the tactile and tangible in the age of Ableton. Slowly, more people filter into the room observing these jams as they unfurl into existence. An energy of admiration and mutual appreciation flows through Bar 303 amongst these like-minded people.
Clan Analogue has been active for almost twenty-five years and has constantly served the purpose of bringing together appreciators of electronic music. Even as the genre has evolved and the technique has expanded to computers, Clan Analogue has continued to release music and host events such as Analogue Redux, serving to unite the community. This year is the first in which Clan Analogue have arranged Fringe Festival shows, and they fit into the festival so well, owning their own unique place amongst the happenings.
After the improvisational jam section of the evening, the performances begin. It features extraordinary sets by Random Acts of Elevator Music, Miles Cosmo, Wonderfeel, BluNijn, Cocoon, Ming, Damian Tangram and Black Lung. Each act graces the stage for a short period of half an hour, but in this time they manage to express their personal reflection of electronic music, and do so using entirely analogue gear, much to my personal delight. Cocoon‘s set is staggeringly beautiful, as he utilises an effects board and a looping pedal to make his guitar sound entirely otherworldly, like five synthesisers playing at once. The acid techno house of Black Lung, mixed with sections of piano composition and ambience, is a dark, intense, and moody affair. Wonderfeel plays a set of slow-burning, organic, hypnotic electronic music, reminiscent of Aphex Twin‘s weirdest production turns. Miles Cosmo runs through a set of spacious, groovy electronica, in a setting that suits him entirely. Random Acts of Elevator Music offer possibly the best set of the night – a strange space walk through disjointed sounds, musical punctuation and flirtation. Their set is mesmerising, trippy, inspirational and endearing, and offers a free-flowing, improvisational edge to it that gives it a lot of suspenseful substance.
Each of the artists who performed at Analogue Redux has their music available on the newly released Clan Analogue compilation, titled Analogue Redux. I highly recommend it to anyone who identifies as a lover of electronic music. The variance of styles, the organic sound, and the musical adventure offered by the compilation is an awesome experience.
Getting a glimpse into the world of Clan Analogue as I did at Analogue Redux was both inspiring and fascinating. Seeing some of the deeply underground artists involved with the collective was amazing, and getting to be involved in an improvised session of musical creation with different types of people was incredibly fun. For their first Fringe season, Clan Analogue have certainly set themselves up as a hard act to top.