Tag Archives: Christian Pyle

Northern Star column, 3/5/2010

After his performance at Bluesfest I’ve been listening to nothing but Justin Townes Earle. Apart from Christian Pyle, Wilco and Lucie Thorne, of course. Son of Steve Earle, Justin is named for Townes Van Zandt, who was equally, a trader in traditional blues, folk and country-based narrative, flipped on its back and twisted into a strange and compelling beast.

A tall, skinny, oddly bobbing and quietly hilarious showman Townes Earle may be, but what he does with these revered genres was as startling at Bluesfest, in cahoots with ex-Drive By Truckers cohort Jason Isbell, as it is on record, Midnight at the Movies.

Another great record on high rotation is the aforementioned Pyle’s Nothing Left to Burn, on Mullumbimby label Vitamin. Pyle played every note himself on this astonishing landmark of laconic, avant garde, post-electro rural pop (gulp), produced with as much painstaking verve as his other new release with his band Ghost Mountain.

Meanwhile, breaking news from Lismore is that the Celibate Rifles, Australia’s punk prototypes, have just been confirmed for Mazstock on May 22, at the Italo Club. Promoter, Sideshow Bridge, is missing, presumed delirious.

Press release for Spikey and Friends album ‘In My Backyard’

In My Backyard is an exciting kids album released by Spikey and Friends, Byron Bay’s top pop-rock performers. Based around the bushland of Byron Bay, it takes the kids on an adventure through their own backyards, where friendly bushland creatures introduce them to the magic of music and nature.

Spikey the echidna sings the kids through meetings with all his bushland friends and through them the kids learn simple lessons about the animal’s biologies and habits. With great respect but a great sense of fun, the kids meet Old Man Bray, an elder of the Bundjalung people, who shows them around the country his people have looked after for millennia.

It’s a brilliant way or teaching about the country and the animals, just as the indigenous people have always done it, mixing lessons with music and fun, so the kids are too involved to realise that they’re actually taking in a great deal of knowledge about the place they live in.

The album was recorded in the hills behind Byron Bay at Christian Pyle’s highly regarded Goonengerry studio, with the best musicians in the area.

Spikey and Friends are a band of experienced musicians and performers whose exciting music will captivate your kids attention while they romp with the bushland creatures. You’ll love the music too, its jazz-inflected grooving rock and roll with the guitar twang of Link Wray and the sinuous beauty of great pop-rock.

Spikey is Michael Turner, an Aria award winning singer/songwriter who has toured Europe and Australia with such bands as Wild Pumpkins and Midnight and more recently North Coast retro surf-folksters The Durga Babies. He has released a previous kid’s record; Peaceful Stars, Days & Dreams, a beautiful album recorded in Mumbai, India with under-privileged rural children. He also co-produced Kangaroo Club, an album by popular north coast children’s performer Mereki, an indigenous Kamilaroi woman, in 2001.

Thierry Fossemale, on bass, has played with the likes of The Whitlams and more top shelf jazz combos than he cares to remember, while drummer Nick Fisher used to work with Ed Kuepper and the New Christs when he was a crazy kid himself.

Assisting this terrific trio is Suzie Surprise, aka Suzie Leigh, a hugely experienced acrobat and circus performer who has turned heads across the world and trains aspiring circus runaways at schools around NSW’s north coast. While the band performs live, Tina conducts workshops in body balancing, juggling and hoops.

Assisting this terrific trio is Suzie Surprise aka Suzie Leigh, a hugely experienced acrobat and circus performer who has turned heads across the world and trains aspiring circus runaways at schools around NSW’s north coast. While the band performs live, Suzie conducts workshops in body balancing, juggling, hoops, plays games and dress-ups and dances with the kids as she plays different characters and makes sure they all have heaps of fun.

The album also features a cast of singing local kids and guest musicians on didjeridoo, saxaphone, violins and organs, all creating a huge album bursting with information and great music.

From simple nursery rhymes to energetic pop-rock reminiscent of The Beatles or Crowded House, songs about dolphins, echidnas, koalas, bush turkeys and cane toads will echo through your kid’s heads for years. They’ll learn respect for animals and the history of this ancient land, and get a great musical education too!

Craig Lawler’s review of Inland Sea – The Re-Mains new album

Praise be to the Rooster – An insider’s review of Inland Sea

There’s a bit in Pumulwuy where the Re-mains stop channelling Hunters and Collectors for a moment and the weight drops – Silence. It’s like aspirin. Finally, the Re-Mains have discovered dynamics. Producer and guitar-slinger Christian Pyle evidently understands the power of both silence and cacophony.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this band, I’ve been to the coalface many times with them, Bourke, Gooloogong, Melbourne, Maitland, Moree – I’ve driven hundreds of ks on dirt roads just to see them live, we’ve got history. I used to share a house in Marrickville with Mick, I went to Uni with him in Canberra in the 80s, I knew him when he was a skinny Albury cracker listening to Chris Rea for fuck’s sake. I reckon, I’ve probably been to more Re-Mains gigs in more places than anyone bar Mick, Uncle Shaun or the Owl.  But I rarely listen to their records.

I remember the conversation Mick and I had before he headed to Europe for the last time, the gist of that conversation?: get back, commit to music full-time, form a country rock and roll band and tour, tour, tour until something is built. That’s ten years ago and he’s been good to his word but what has been built? A consistently cracking live band that channels Creedence, Bob Dylan, WPA and the Bad Livers, which makes people from Saskatoon to Coonamble dance and drink too much, endless and indefatigable touring and a serious casualty list of crippled champions, line-up changes and ruined vehicles.

On record though?  Too much emphasis on trying to capture the undeniable wallop of the live arena and less on allowing a full expression of the band’s talents.  Records were something you got together in between tours to sell on tour, for someone who saw them live so often they were kind of superfluous – until now. This record’s been four years in making, not that they’ve been louching around Nellcote jamming and having orgies (much as they’d like to), but they’ve taken their time about it and it shows.

As you might have heard, there’s been a few hurdles: in 2007 a steer walked out in front of their van in the NT (home of no speed limits and no fences), Various bones and the steering column snap, the van careers off the road coming to rest between  two huge boulders, Grant and Dave are still severely injured. Uncle Shaun got Cancer with a capital C but he’s back and firing. Mick and fellow Re-Mains founder steel-guitarist Leigh Ivin’s fractious relationship burst, as did that with Leigh’s replacement Mick Elliott. Two northern Summer tours of Canada saw new horizons conquered and a now collectible early draft version of this record, featuring Mick Elliott’s guitar work, released.

Through all of that, this record lurked, like the band, like Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher, It would not fucking die. IT LIVES.

Track by track:

2nd Century – Hola Beatriz. An ode to the end of the doomed relationship between an Albury boy and a great Galician beauty, Beatriz Villares de Cuba. Beti lived with us in Marrickville where we would infuriate her with incomprehensible conversations in deep strine which she could not ken despite being a professional translator of English: “You stupid farmer Mick, you cannot even speak English, what is this Mull Bowl?”

Your Reward – Setting the tone of measured yet mobile sonic adventure, this one floods into your loungeroom like sunlight through the a gap in the curtains, you can see the dust suspended. It swings, it floats, it’s ruffled by a breeze, it lands. Tom Jones deftly underpins it all with trademark swagger.

Copper City Motel – Doctor Pump once wrote me a letter about his first trip to Mount Isa (1982?) with his covers band The Avengers. It involved Medi-slims, Flagons and riding Mad-Max-style on the Bullbar of the truck hooting at passers-by (mostly cattle). Not much has changed in the Isa. Every band in Australia wishes they wrote this song: “we don’t play no Copperhead Road” indeed. This song also chronicles the meeting of the Re-Mains and last-man standing tent-boxing operator Fred Brophy. Talk about simpatico – beating the drum, dealing with rough-necks, keeping shit on the road, trying to entertain. Fred hits the outback demographic square on the chin, the Re-mains try and draw them into a clinch and sneak in a few crafty rabbit punches coupled with the occasional flashy bolo.

Things I Remember, Things I Forget – It’s a slow-building waltz and Daley eschews the literal and drops his generally taciturn emotional guard.  “I’m a stranger, stranger in my own country, I’m a witness to death, and to deceit, and I’m a patriot …” An equivocal yet clear-eyed constitutional pre-amble if I ever heard one.

Pumulwuy –  conjuring both Tony Joe White and Hunters and Collectors, this is a belter. The great Eora guerilla gets a righteous tribute with a thumping bassline and clarion horns treatment which should come up huge with the aid of the Kenny G Spot Horns Experience at some stage.

Praise be to the Rooster – The first time West Wyalong has been mentioned in a song since the Aunty Jack Show (Kev Kavanagh if I recall correctly).  A fractured loping banjo-fuelled ballad of something gone wrong – it happened out on the Bland.

Who Shot Johnny D? – recalling the Re-mains classics Ballad of a Wrong’un and My Friend the Bushranger, this slice of subterranean north coast action sums up the dichotomy that is Nimbin – it’s like a tie-dyed, stupid-hat-wearing version of The Wire. It broods, it skulks, then explodes. Must go down a treat at Mardi Grass time.

Tequila and Methadone – Gronk national anthem.

Othello’s P76 – when I first streamed this on the Re-Mains Myspace page a couple of years back I knew something was up. Sonic adventure, an elliptical lyric and the poison dwarf square in the sights. It was my favourite Re-mains recording to that point and remains so.

This could be Anywhere – from the Canadian Prairies to the dun-green wastes of New South Wales, globalisation and road-weariness expressed through the personal.

Darn Tootin’ in Saskatchewan – I wish I was there.  Things get shifty in Canada, a party favourite. I reckon it’s the first time Canadian breakfast TV has been treated to lyrics about “waiting for the acid to kick in.”

Left on King – “In the ruins of where we used to play” just about sums it up. Sydney used to be the joint, bands from Melbourne used to move there to get ahead (can you imagine that?). Is anyone still there? “Every time I go to Sydney I get the flu”. Daley, you’ve been reading my mail …

Woke Up Sad – Good fucking grief – vulnerability expressed by Michael Daley in a public forum? Wonders never cease. Deft and gloopy electric piano makes it positively sweet. It hit me somewhat like the shock of Bob Dylan’s “I want you”. Where’d this come from?  The old curmudgeon’s got a heart.

Golden Shoes –  This spectral outro keeps the freak on.

Anyway, it’s the Re-Mains best record. I’ve just listened to it three times in a row – you should too.

Fourth Re-Mains album, Inland Sea, finally complete

In cahoots with our producer and sometime guitar-slinger Christian ‘Scales are for Fish’ Pyle (aka C.P.), we’ve just mastered 13 tracks for the long-awaited, much-belated and very nearly evaporated new album, Inland Sea.

It’s been three years since Love’s Last Stand, also produced by CP, was released, and in the interim Leigh Ivin left the band, Dave Ramsey joined it and was promptly almost killed by an errant outback cow, Grant Bedford also retired, hurt, and a string of other great players had a crack at country rock and roll. We toured Canada twice, played over 200 shows in both countries and released an earlier, Canadian version of Inland Sea there. But here, finally, is a collection of songs, some old now, some written in Canada, Lismore and various other timeless states.

It’s got a different vibe to the other records, there are a lot of players’ signature sounds on it – from Phil Daniel’s keys and occasional banjo, Bryson Mullholland’s eerie throat and Hammond flourishes, Scotty Dog Bennett’s righteous drum pounding, CP’s menacing guitar lines, Grant Bedford’s pre-smash drumming and Tom Jones Junior’s post-Stax bass barrages to the unmistakeable imprint of original country rock and roll banjo pioneer Shaun ‘Uncle Burnin’ Love’ Butcher’s gittar and banjo ministrations.

Inland Sea refers to the mythical body of water deep in the interior to which our convict ancestors fled, convinced that there they’d find wealth, rum and happiness – not an entirely different set of delusions to the modern country rock and roll model.

As such the songs are mostly road narratives sweated out in semi-delerium – Othello’s P-76, a haunted dirge in the wake of John Howard’s ugly reign, or This Could Be Anywhere, a ballad for the lost, somewhere in the boundless depths of Canada, or is it Grafton, NSW? Pumulwuy is the story of Australia’s indigenous Che Guevara, concerning the black leader who successfully fought the British for 15 years before treachery and lesser men brought him down. 2nd Century plots a trans-continental love affair while Left on King laments the glory days of inner-city rock. Praise Be to the Rooster follows the fallen into hallucinatory hell in a wintry rural desolation. Copper City Motel is a rock and roll explosion in the grand tradition of Gold Wig and Bye Bye Byron Bay. The dark underbelly of Nimbin rolls, bloated, to the surface in Who Shot Johnny D? and finally, we cheer up in Darn Tootin’ in Saskatchewan. There’s more riotous carry-on in Tequila and Methadone, Lismore’s white-trash anthem, and a cheery litany of country-style loss and regret in Woke Up Sad, while Your Reward stomps on iridescent adolescents and Things I Remember, Things I Forget toasts the joy of selective amnesia.

I love it. CP’s knack for unique sounds and textures has separated it from previous recordings but kept it unmistakeably in country rock and roll territory. There’s enough banjo and bare-knuckle guitar here to soothe the savage beast, but more space and time.

The prodigious procession of players created some confusion and chaos in their wake but ultimately, contributed to a fecund and edgy record. It’s dark and spooky but often sublime.

We’re releasing it at a number of venues across the country, in a more leisurely and protracted series of tours than the usual Re-Mains road onslaughts. CP is coming on the road with us for extra grunt and cynicism.

The first of these is on May 22nd at The Grand Junction Hotel in Maitland, just about our favourite pub in Australia. Home to rock-pigs, cowgirls, bullshitters, serial twitters, ladies choirs, truckies, bikers and seldom-pikers, this is one of the last bastions of the old school, low maintenance, high fidelity country rock and roll lifestyle. Room 19 is a portal into another dimension and many have taken it.

Sunday May 23 we revisit a Sydney institution – the Botany View Hotel. Our shows here are always packed, stacked and never lacking incident.

June 18 is our North Coast launch at Federal Hall. A beautiful building across the road from my old house, this place was overflowing into the street and down the road last time we played here – mind you, Tex Perkins was also on the bill. CP’s band is playing with us, as well as Doug Lord with Till The Cops Come – probably a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the 19th we roll down to Yamba to play the footy club there. Our mate Dave always puts on an unholy bash.

Melbourne, Bourke, Cobar and Nymagee dates are in the offing, as well as a possible jaunt to Darwin, where we haven’t been since the Meat Tray incident of 2007.

Pretty soon Inland Sea is going to be available for order from the website or iTunes, just as soon as we get it set up. Meanwhile we hope you’ll turn up to shows and buy one offstage, where Tom Jones will be happy to sign it in exchange for beer.

The Re-Mains press release and bio for Inland Sea album launch

The Re-mains fourth album, Inland Sea, might have taken them three years to get out, but it hasn’t been for want of action. Since Love’s Last Stand, their 2006 live album   earned four stars from Rolling Stone, they’ve had a near fatal mash-up with a cow in the Northern Territory, two massive Canadian tours and enough line-up changes to put the Melbourne Hit Men Association to shame.

“We started recording early in 2007, then went on tour to the Territory and had the ‘meat tray’ incident,” says frontman/manager Mick Daley.

“Grunter Bedford and Ramshackle Dave Ramsey were horribly maimed and out of action after that. It took a while to get back into gear. Me and Tom Jones Jnr (bassplayer) were kind of freewheelin’ around with different line-ups, including Louis Tillet on piano one New Years Eve in Maitland, till Shaun (Uncle Burnin’ Love) Butcher came back from winning his bout with cancer, and took up the banjo again.”

Revitalised, the band did some more recording, at Christian Pyle’s Lot 61 Studios in Goonengerry, in the Byron Bay hinterland. Then they hightailed it to Canada in ‘08, for en epic four-month tour involving an $800 Chevy van, 16,000 kilometres, nationally broadcast breakfast TV and 65 shows from Vancouver to Toronto and back again. The rest of that year was spent back on the road in Australia, then in 2009 they did it all again, clocking up another 18,000 k’s and adding a circumnavigation of the Rockies with Canadian outlaw folkie Dr Joey Only to their carbon footprint.

Back in Australia, they finished the album, at last, and set about getting it out themselves, following the demise of their label, Croxton Records. They were rescued by Austrade, which awarded them an export development grant, in the nick of time to salvage their debts – and pay Christian Pyle.

Daley has high praise for Pyle, who had his own winning bout with the big C whilst engineering and playing on the album, twice.

“CP is a genius. He takes my rambling ballads and crafts them into … well, something else, something a lot more considered and refined. He also plays a mean guitar, invents most of his gear from scratch and laughs at conventional wisdom, about scales, recording, everything really.”

“We had a Canadian version of this album first. Then when we came back, I asked him to do it all over again, ‘cos I wanted different songs on the Australian version. It’s lucky we’re mates, I’ve seen him, er, react differently to similar requests.”

It’s more produced than previous albums, which were basically tracked live, to get the bands edgy attack authentically.

“This one has the same energy, but more overdubbing and fairy dust. It’s a big sound, a dash of 3D.

“It’s got road songs from Canada and more laments about lost love and loneliness, as well as my favourite, an epic about Pumulwuy, the great Koori warrior, and Who Shot Johnny D? a murder ballad from Nimbin.”

This winter the band is taking Inland Sea on the road south and west, way west.

Well Melbourne and Sydney and Darwin of course,” Daley says. “Then we’re headed out to Bourke, via Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble, back where it all started.”

The Re-Mains were renowned as the hardest driving independent band in the country when they first started their country rock and roll crusade in 2002. They boasted that they’d played more rodeos, outback dives and inner city hellholes than any other band in Australia. Splendour in the Grass, Six Tamworth Country Music Festivals, five East Coast Blues and Roots, three Darwin Festivals, Woodford Folk, Nymagee Outback fest, Nimbin Mardi Grass, (see sizzle sheet) and every other bush bash they could reach. Four albums, two EPs and more drummers than Spinal Tap. Banjos, pedal steel and balls to the wall country rock and roll.

They travelled where most East Coast outfits feared to tread, to the wildest outback pubs, where it was not uncommon to see heads go through plate glass windows while they played.

“There’s nothing like the sound of a banjo at full throttle to get some of those country blokes revved for a blue. And even the 3am emos at the Pony in Melbourne warm to it after a few songs.”

Their Canadian tours included shows at NXNE, NewMusic West, the Calgary Stampede and nine other national festivals, their compilation album reached Number 13 on the Alberta CBC radio charts and they appeared twice on breakfast TV. But they reserve their highest praise for Curtis, their Chevy conversion van.

‘$800 in Vancouver, we jumped in, drove him straight over the Rockies. He threw a starter motor in Calgary and lost his exhaust early, so everywhere we went we sounded like a Panzer battalion on the attack. We scared bears all over Canada. But that van kept going, two tours in Canada and we left him in Vancouver with Dr Joey Only, who killed him in a week.”

With the aid of Austrade they’re returning to Canada next year – meanwhile this year it’s all about the Inland Sea – and avoiding cows.

The Re-Mains are –

Mick Daley – management, songwriting, guitars, harmonica, singing.

Shaun Butcher – songwriting, banjo, electric guitars, singing.

Tom Jones – bass

Al Fisk – drums, singing.

And occasionally, Christian Pyle – electric guitars.

The Re-Mains at Australian festivals;

Splendour in the Grass (‘03), East Coast Blues and Roots, (x5) Tamworth Country Music Festival (x7), Woodford Folk Festival (‘04), Darwin Festival (x3), St Kilda Festival (‘04), Big Note Festival, Swan Hill (x2), Mullumbimby Festival (‘02) The Herb Festival, Lismore (x2), Brisbane Beer Festival (‘04), Barkly Arts Festival, NT (’05), Surfing the Coldstream, Yamba (x2), Casino Beef Week (x3), Two Rivers Festival, Gunnedah (‘05), Mt Isa Rodeo (‘04), Litchfield Rodeo (‘06), Gold Coast Rodeo (‘07), The Puppet Rodeo, Kyogle (‘06), Gove Peninsula Festival NT, (‘06),  Wagga Wagga Unsound Festival (‘05), The Gumball, Hunter Valley (x2), Candelo Festival (‘07), Wallaby Creek Festival, FNQ (’05), Yagubi Festival, Hervey Bay (‘05), The Mad Hatter Regatta, Albury (‘05), Blues and Tattoos Bike Show, Maitland (‘06), Kingaroy Peanut Festival (‘06), Long Flat Bike Rally (‘05) Big Sunday, Tyalgum (‘07), Mazstock, Lismore (’07) Yackandandah Folk Festival (‘10), Cool Summer Festival, Mt Hotham (‘10).

The Re-Mains at Canadian Festivals;

North by North East, Toronto (‘08), New Music West, Vancouver (‘08), Big Valley Jamboree, Alberta (‘08), Ness Creek Festival, Saskatchewan (‘08, ‘09), North Country Fair, Alberta (‘08), Gateway Festival, Sask (‘08), Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, BC (‘08), Winlaw Music Festival, BC (‘09), Kitchener Blues Festival, Ontario (‘09),  Sled Island, Alberta (‘09).

Recipients of two Australia Council touring grants and an

Austrade Export Development Grant – current for seven years.

Review of Ghost Mountain’s 2010 album Art Without Audience

Being a musician is about considerably more than playing an instrument. It’s about a life moved by artistic vision and emotion – a fraught word in the modern era. Like that other, highly nuanced casualty of the lexicon, ‘gay’, it’s been forced into an entirely other set of pants. Emotion in its truncated, graffitoed form has been circumscribed to those youth who feel that shanghiing the Goth credo is not enough, that as sole inheritors of genuine sorrow the emos need to annex it for their own private kingdom. But Ghost Mountain ain’t letting go of it.

This band’s lives are a subterranean mine of emotion, roiling and tectonically shifting beneath the amaranthine hills of the Byron hinterland. And where it breaks the surface, that’s where you’ll find Art Without Audience.

Engineered, produced and finessed in his usual inimitable style by co-founding member Christian Pyle (CP), this record is then broken down by Sal Yates, the other half of the equation. Sal’s voice, enormous, vulnerable, glorying in power and range, is as laden with the E word as was Johnny Cash’s in another realm entirely, so tightly woven with tantalising promise, searing passion and aching despair that every phrase sounds like a psalm from the Old Testament.

Arm that voice with CP’s masterful, deft and unrestrained knowledge of an electric guitars possibilities, and you indeed have high art, albeit aloof and oblique, grounded in high misty hills and constant, tropical rain. It’s my contention in fact that the mountain is question is music itself, and the ghost is the ephemeral, shifting emotion that haunts it.

Drummer Nick Edin and bassist Eben McCrimmon are adept interpreters of the raging and temperamental songs on this, the second album from the band. Two years in the making, it’s a potent mix of their signal slant on rock and roll with a determined and steady artistic vision. Envenomed at turns with Bryson Mulholland’s coruscating keys and CP’s own bristling voice, the result is a glittering treasury of blazing ardour and wilful collapse.

From the stately timbre of Government Arms to the Crazy Horse guitar tirade of I’m Gonna Face You, there’s a ruthless spectrum of styles lurching through the eleven songs. Delving into electro-pop with Everythings OK, the Mountaineers also tackle brooding alt-rock in Started a Fire, while Capsized Moon is as lilting and yearnful as Don’t Make Me Wait is majestic.

Easy Does It is a standout, not because I have an undeserved credit, but because of its simple melody and poised, sanguine lyric. The lover who sings ‘You swine, I’m coming to get you’, is the same who on Animal declares, “I’m not your animal, you’re not worth dying for”, and hexes exes when In Spite of Me shudders in full spate with “I’m getting over the game … taking time to write the lies that you breathe …”. She’s also the temptress who promises “If you really wanted this could be your song”, in Capsized Moon.

Like Ghost Mountain’s previous work, this album is more about subtle and dark than user-friendly. There’s few concessions to idiocy and the banal will slope away, unmoved. But if you like to tap into raw emotion and the elliptical truth of unfettered art, you’ll find closer The Whole compelling and its hot-tempered jealousy a door slamming on a volatile, irresistible album. Like a spurned lover, you’ll be hanging at the back windows, peering into that murky light.

Christian Pyle, solo album review, published on Vitamin website

Christian Pyle is an anomaly in the modern world – eschewing glamour, fads and celebrity he’s pioneered all three in his own inimitable style as founding member of the great ACRE, a Brisbane band that nearly tipped over into the hyperstream – and would surely have if not for CP’s refusal to kowtow to the flippant demands of passing fame.

Instead he chose the life of the reclusive eccentric, buying acreage in the Byron hinterland before it was trendy and carving out a niche as a cranky, obsessive producer – much in demand from the hippest jazz practitioners in the land, among others, and renowned for crafting straightforward, evocative music with the unmistakeable stamp of sonic genius.

As gentleman farmer and bona fide eccentric he specialises in chicken coops on an Escheresque scale – on the sonic plane he contends with obscure, etheric sounds, tinkering with odd devices and inventions. His use of spastic rhythms and counter-melodies, ghostly voices and antiquated instrumentation ranging from toy pianos to homemade theremins is local legend.

Sometimes these quirks threaten to place him in the dadaist realms of John Cale, Sonic Youth or even Kraftwerk, but his love of a simple melody and primal pop structure are always underpinned by the guitar foundations that keep him entrenched in rock’n’roll.

Those familiar with his work – Ghost Mountain, the Re-mains, Jesse Younan, Billy, et al, will recognise the subtle but layered vocals and reverbs, the obsessive, warped melodies, the cunning arrangements that recycle simple progressions and beats into seemingly complex symphonies. In fact some of the songs carry the epic melodic momentum of Muse or Radiohead, a statement he’d probably take issue with.

In ‘Nothing Left to Burn’ he’s crafted a gentle but deceptively savage record that hacks and stabs at several of his private bete noires while maintaining an even lope, like an experienced lantana cutter excising his quarry with efficient, but deadly swipes of the brush-hook.

CP plays all the instruments, displaying virtuoso talents that are almost impossible to repeat live.

‘Trees and Stone’ is the balladry of an artisan and farmer as adept and familiar with natural elements as songs and sound, inviting a visitor to witness the ‘ ….? play with the trees and stone, built my home, on innocent dreams,”  ??’

Never specific, enigmatic lyrics annotate a love affair with his bittersweet life, as much a part of the landscape as the materials he builds chook pens with. The romantic sentiment of the chorus belies his jaded frown; “Someone’s heart I’m sure you’ll take up, someone’s love to sweep your feet,

“If only words could say what they mean, if only ears could hear them sweet …”

‘Wait Son’ is a primer for Nemo, his eldest, who displays all the urgent restlessness of his dad’s relentless creativity – ‘Wait son don’t you understand, our road’s been walked upon since time began,

We’re just a viral coat tryin’ to fill a stranger’s shoulders, we’re just the branches of a family …’

Already playing guitar at age 5, Nemo’s familiar precociousness stirs instinctive paternal caution;

‘ … there is broke, there is broken, there are toys that you can’t play with …’

The grim admonition of ‘Get Used To It’ uses a spare piano melody staked out on a bleak narrative that delves into the murk of a lantana farmer’s consciousness – Goonengerry’s ‘Diary of a Madman’.

Meanwhile subliminal trumpets and voices carry on a submerged dialogue that gives the song an entirely more vulnerable edge in the refrain;

‘I know I sound weak, I know I sound crazy that’s the way it is, get used to it …’

‘Ray of Your Sunshine’ is the perfect pop song, leaping out of an addled drum solo with laconic sauciness, tempered by bitter experience.

“Don’t take much to make me regret, just the thought of you and my heart comes out second best … for far too long I wore an idiot smile, what I’d pay for a ray of your sunshine … “

Meanwhile ‘Sometime in June’ shops all CP’s melancholy themes, the haunting sense of loss and decayed beauty that informs much of his work, a junkie carousel spindling a lost love’s lament.

‘At A Loss’ is another desolate piano ballad whose brevity underpins its mournful musings on the world’s oldest theme;

“Love never fades, it just changes shape, it just changes faces …”, while

Ryuichi is a spare, short instrumental that takes you into the final turn for ‘School Without Dogs’;

A breezy reminiscence of childhood innocence and preoccupations whose central canine underpins the premise that times were better then … Rambling lyrics also grant a glimpse into some of the musical obsessions that drive CP’s muse.

Country music how it ought to be is demonstrated in ‘Sun Comes Up’, a lazy acoustic yearning for the same essence of past potential that haunts its predecessors; “ … You had a fire deep inside, you had a friend in the flame, now you’re suffering from some emptiness within … Wish you were still around … “

You get the feeling that these memos are aimed not at individuals as much as phases of life, of which people are just different facets. The wry observer sees his own fate in them;

‘ … now we’re waterlogged and sinking, the ghost of all before

take your time, take it quickly, push me from the shore … “

‘Give It Some Choke’ is a defiant challenge to the musical powerbrokers of our digital age, a war-cry urging compatriots not to bend before their apparent omniscience.

‘Fuck the powers take control, come on baby give it some choke …

They’ll hear us one day …’ and as if in response, ‘Spaceman’s Funeral’

is a strange techno dirge that could well take its place as an X-Box anthem – or indeed a wry funeral march for these very music moguls.

‘Green Goblin’ is musical haiku, another strange composition whose mysterious undertones seem to be narrating a whole other world underneath a brief melodic meditation.

Finally, ‘Great White Hope’ is a broad and scathing denunciation of a recalcitrant former client which revels in gallows imagery and a gleeful piano and banjo stomp.

“If I only know one thing; puppets don’t like it when you don’t provide the strings …”

Not for committed dance-obsessives or those prone to lyric-triggered depressions, ‘Nothing Left To Burn’ is a wilfully difficult album that demands a certain amount of work from the listener.  It features the kind of dedication to dense and detailed soundscapes as the prog-rock of a bygone age – much as CP would loathe such a comparison.

Lyrically caustic and sonically exquisite, it’s an artistic and oddly elegant exercise that rewards diligent engagement – and then just try and get the songs out of your head.

Incident Report – latest Re-Mains mailout newsletter

Greetings from Tuckombil. The Re-mains are on hiatus at the moment after Nymagee and our second tour of Canada. We’re playing a handful of shows for the rest of the year and taking it easy while we hunker down in meatspace to try and get outta debt and regroup. Tom Jones has relocated to Darwin with his lovely beau Flanno, UBL is in training for the Ironman races at Bentley, Frisky has gone into timber milling and I’m driving cabs. We’re playing three shows at Tamworth CMF in January and hopefully will have the new album by then. More below on that. Last year we played 132 shows – a record for the band. It was a tumultuous year – our first tour of Canada, 64 shows across seven provinces taking on 16,000 kilometres of Rocky Mountains, the great prairies and the enormous metropolises of this fabled continent. We made a lot of friends there, the Bush Pilots, The Secretaries, Joey Only and the Outlaw Band, Colin Farnan, Peter Brush, The Deep Dark Woods, Li’l Miss Higgins (the Kansas version) and Foy, all the crew at Ness Creek Festival, who broke their golden rule by having us back for a second time, Wil and Caroline, Mayor Matt Allen and family, The Smokin’ 45s and our Calgary sponsor Brad Simm, the Weber Bros and the D-Rangers … We also did a heap of touring at home, from Melbourne to Nundle via Goologong and Tamworth, Nymagee, Bourke, Cobar … business as usual. Uncle Burnin’ Love came back to the fold after a grave illness that had put him temporarily out of action. As soon as he was pronounced fit the Recruiting Sergeant whisked him out of Bentley and back on the road. Recording for the next album continued in fits and starts. We’d actually commenced just prior to the fateful national tour that ended before it began, in the back of a steer north of Tennant Creek. Grant Bedford and Dave Ramsey are still recovering from their injuries there, and fighting off the insurance vultures trying to deprive them of compensation. Sessions went on throughout last year and this and we were able to release nine new songs on the ‘Inland Sea’ album – a Canada-only cd that garnered heaps of radio play over there, punters particularly taken with ‘Darn Tootin’ in Saskatchewan’, a bawdy tale of depravity and bears in that blessed province. The female anchor of City TV in Calgary, Alberta was so taken with it that she had us play it live to air on Breakfast TV during our long sojourn there, courtesy of expatriate Peter Brush, a generous bon vivant and lover of late nights and Gary’s antics. We still have another 11 songs in the bag to be polished, have guitar, harmonica and vocal parts added for release hopefully before this year is out. It’s all down to the patience and dedication of Christian Pyle, genius producer at Prawn and Spanner that we got this far, un-monetized, haphazard and harried. The album is to be called ‘Courage … and shuffle the cards’, a valiant quote attributed to Lola Montez. This year we played a mere 52 shows in Canada, including two TV appearances, marking new territory in Montreal and beyond and criss-crossing the Rockies with Joey Only and Zinger to play some extraordinary venues that we would surely never have had the privilege of without these two spirit guides. Once again we were treated to amazing hospitality, mind-bending conviviality, and Shaun saw a wolf. So he reckons. We managed 35 shows in Australia, about ten of those being in disguise as The Postmortemists, our covers band whose residency at the sadly missed Winsome Hotel was responsible for some highly liberal interpretations of tunes by the likes of You Am I, The Beasts of Bourbon, Divinyls, Midnight Oil, The Stems, The Church etc etc. Last weekend we joined the rest of the Australian country rock and roll coalface community in commuting out to our very own Mecca, the birthplace of crnr, where Beefweek first split the atom and GOLD!!!! tumbled out, where the Trippin’ Shearer was sacrificed to the angry god of the coalface, where the burrs are bigger ‘n landmines, NYMAGEE. Yeah that’s right, The Re-mains were born out on this slag heap in the Mallee, and we returned along with a plethora of other bona fide coalface roots acts to carouse, cavort and disport with all those brave enough to venture out to the middle of New South Wales. There are a heap of pics on myspace and facebook to tell the true story, suffice to say that it probably was the best ever festival in terms of music, camaraderie, weather and hilarity. Directors Mcintosh and Hull did a magnificent job and have well and truly hooked Nymagee into the broader Australian psyche. Next shows for us are Nov 21 at a private party in Yamba and Sunday 22nd at Billinudgel Pub in the afternoon. Traditionally a great gig. After that, the Grand Junction in Maitland on December 4 and maybe something else with Crossy on the Saturday night. Meanwhile I’m playing solo at the Nimbin Pub on Thursday night, November 19. Till you hear the banjo roar, au revoir.