Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blown Away, Let Down #1: Richard Ingham of Whalehammer/Mink Mussel Creek

The true music fan’s life is a rocky passage, an out of control rollercoaster. There are ups, downs, twists, turns, moments of elation and moments of heart wrenching despair. The true fan sets himself up to be let down, but in doing so, opens himself up to true sensations, both positive and negative. To elaborate; there comes a time in any fan’s relationship with a band where a critical point will be reached, and from this point, there will either be triumph or disappointment.

Let’s say The Rotting Anemone’s have released two albums which you have been pretty stoked about, their first album was good but not great, but still the kind of album that kept a steady rotation in the tape deck of your mustard yellow Volvo. However their second release knocked you for six, and you flogged the crap out of it on the boom box in your backyard shed where you escape the maniacal tirades of your wife/girlfriend/sister/stepmother/stoner dad/boss. And now The Rotting Anemone’s have put out their third album. It might as well be titled ‘The Moment of Truth’, in fact that would be a better title than the highly unimaginative ‘III’ moniker that they have gone with. You go to the store/distro/label website and buy/order the title, sound unheard. You have a bond with this band now, you wouldn’t ask your long-term boyfriend to have a blood test every time he wanted to stick it in you, why would you do the mood-killing equivalent to this trusted band?

You get home/the package arrives, and you head out to the backyard shed to blast the sh** out of this new long-player. Here are the two paths that may emerge in the bloody aftermath;

a.) This album is fu**ing sick!!! It’s like the best parts of their old stuff, minus the shoddy half-baked filler tracks, plus exciting and totally appropriate hints of a new direction, and it sounds phenomenal. This moment is called TRIUMPH. You have been blown away. The trust you put in this band has been rewarded tenfold, that much more for you having bought it instantly, without preview, and with your own hard-earned.

b.) Holy sh**, what happened? This can NOT be the same band. They have forgotten to write any songs, Bob Rock has given the album a bizarre corporate rock sheen, it’s all ‘interludes’ and ‘experiments’, they have incorporated elements of jazz/rap/world music/dance/spoken word and the results are absolutely DISGUSTING. The high becomes a low. You have been let down. You will never listen to this band’s good albums in the same way, and you will never listen to this abomination again.

Life goes on, but things are not the same. Now you love this band, or hate them, or maybe your previously excellent relationship is now full of mixed feelings. As a true fan, you can’t shrug your shoulders and deposit the downloaded mp3s into the recycle bin. You paid good money for this triumph/abortion.

However in either case, in the long run things are going to be OK. You have experienced a depth of emotion the casual music listener will not experience. You will find a new band if it blows, and if it ruled, well it’s a joyous occasion calling for mad bucket-bongage and rabid masturbation.

To celebrate the phenomenon I have called upon a hardcore music nut to shed some light on his most intense Blown Away/Let Down experiences, both recorded and in the live domain.

The nut is Richard Ingham aka Channelled Beast Spirit. Richard’s musical wanderlust is near unparalleled, even in Perth’s incestuous genetic swamp of a music ‘scene’. As the guitarist/synthesizer in improv noisegazers Whalehammer, the guitarist/bongo-boy in psych rock fiends Mink Mussel Creek, the drummer in ultra shambolic youth punkers Taco Leg and acid thrash visionaries Puke Rainbow, and the auteur of countless ill-fated solo projects, he spreads his sonic seed far and wide with gay abandon. Not bad for a man who hasn’t witnessed a second of AM time in years (excepting late night post-PM AM time).

Richard in the foreground, playing guitar in Whalehammer.

Richard’s Blown Away/Let Down entry;



Biggest Blown Away Experience:

I was at a very important and sensitive crossroad in my musical journey. I had for several years been a diehard fan of both progressive rock and thrash metal and both genres occupied vastly different areas of my taste and catered to different emotions and musical cravings. It got to the point where the prog wasn't proggy enough and the thrash wasn't fast or angry enough and I slowly and tenderly like the deflowering of a fair maiden ventured down the path of death metal.

This was the path I swore I would never take, it was too extreme, too down-tuned, too atonal, too self-ridiculing but I began to see that this was the only way I could further my musical experience. So I decided to quit being a limp-wristed pansy and dive in head first with some technical death metal - Atheist's acclaimed and legendary album 'Unquestionable Presence'. I had heard amazing tales about jazz fusion drumming, breakneck riff changes, wild bitchin' solos and slap bass and I thought this is so crazy that I must listen to it.

Needless to say it absolutely tore my balls off, I couldn't comprehend what the f*ck was going on at first, all I knew was that there were killer riffs and funky drum beats but it quickly began to sink in and it has been my favourite album ever since.

Also My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ LP. On a whim I explored this 'shoegaze' genre thinking I would encounter a whole bunch of second rate indie bands. I fell in love with it on my first listen through, I connected with the music in a way I had never experienced before and it was an incomparable experience at that. Thankfully this was the first shoegaze album I listened to as I quickly realised the rest of the genre was made up of second rate indie bands.

Biggest Let Down Experience:

This is an easy one for me - The Mars Volta. At the height of At the Drive-in's fame I was an angsty teenager who was literally just beginning to listen to music, I hadn't liked a band in years and the inoffensive tunes of the Foo Fighters and the angular aggression of ATDI appealed to me. After the much publicized break-up of said group there were rumours that the two masterminds behind ATDI were forming this new band with some crazy new unbridled sound.

I downloaded all the demos and they were incredibly unique to me (and still are after all my prog/avant-garde adventures), in such a way that I didn't quite know what to think but I knew that I loved it. So when they released their 3 song EP I immediately got my hands on it and it kicked serious ass. Some demos of their album leaked out and they kicked even more ass, still to this day some of the best sh*t I have ever heard.

‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’ was released and along with Mr Bungle almost single-handedly crafted my interest in prog, every song was incredibly unique and had such rich tapestries and sounds with such melodies and concepts, I listened to it practically every day and became a rabid fangirl. Fast forward to the follow up, I was giddy with excitement, I had heard one of the songs from a leak and it was pretty good, not quite as good as De-loused but it was a leak so I thought the rest would be even better. At first I liked ‘Frances the Mute’ and then I realised they took it too far, it was overblown, utterly pretentious and contained about 20 minutes of decent music and 50 minutes of meaningless intro, outro, breakdown noise wank. From there it only went downhill, all the indie-fags around town started parading around wearing their Mars Volta shirts and I became too self-conscious to be associated with those wankers so much that, ever conscious of my image, I wouldn't wear my TMV shirt anymore.

The third album came out and sucked even harder, and I lost interest entirely. Now the fourth album is out and I don't even like the band anymore, they turned completely sh*te, they play some form of bland accessible excuse for prog (which, being a prog elitist, I just can't abide by) with ultra-compressed pop production values.I was let down so much by TMV's decline. I was there at the very start checking it out, they released some cathartic, raw and highly original music and then they succumbed to external pressures and being meth'd up intellectuals and started releasing a whole bunch of crap.You've unleashed a monster here, don't ask me to do long-winded or else you'll be riding the roaring forties all the way to Chile.


Biggest Blown Away Experience:

Fantomas. I have never seen a spectacle quite like it; they played their avant-garde compositions so amazingly super-tight that it defied belief.

Biggest Let Down Experience:

Slayer at the Robinson Pavilion (Ed – a large sheep shed turned music venue by greedy promoter jerk-offs). I used to be a big Slayer fan and now I don't even like them anymore, my interest for them was on a large wane as it was and when I saw them live it killed any interest I had in the band. The sound was horrible, they were sloppy, they played a whole bunch of crap songs, people were chanting "Reign in Blood" all night and they only played songs from the album in the last 20 minutes or so, which was a major cop-out. I sobered up, took off the beer goggles and saw the thuggish sloppy band for what they really were.



I'm not much of a Love -> Hate -> Love guy, I'm more of a Hate -> Love guy or a Love -> forget/don't listen to for a year -> Love guy. The former situation has occurred to me though, you see despite how I may try and present myself and despite what I may tell you in person I'm a very fickle and elitist little man when it comes to musical taste as you yourself already know quite well. I decided I didn't like the band Death because it was too accessible and so many other people liked it that it must be shit (which to be fair is usually a good way of pre-judging a band in relation to my tastes), then I decided to listen to their Human album again and I slapped myself upside the head for being such an immature c*ck-hole.


Whalehammer – psych noisegaze

Mink Mussel Creek – psych rock/stoner pop

Puke Rainbow – acid thrash

IPRR – ‘pretentious sh*tdi**ery’

Taco Leg – shambolic youth punk

Gnarled Oak – acoustic folk wandering

Atolah – stoner-rock

Quintus Colourscape – sound destroyer of worlds/open mic nights

Cragscleft – abstract black metal

Monday, April 14, 2008


If you have heard any of the Whalehammer albums you will notice that they are recordings. We recorded them ourselves. I have a small-scale recording set-up, and I am keen to help out friends/bands/non-lamezoids (that don't already have their own small-scale recording set-ups) with audio documentation, projects, demos and such. The options are mid-fi digital recordings (8 inputs at once for live tracking) or lo-fi 4-track recording if you're that way inclined. Mics are pretty modest eg SM57s, Rode condenser etc. I can mix the tracks or you can do it, or have somebody else do it. Costs are minimal, but keep in mind the results will not be akin to Led Zeppelin's fourth album, a Phil Collins opus or R Kelly's latest hip-hopera. But if you like it totally fukked, rough and ready or modestly clean and clear you might not be too disappointed. Recordings can take place in rehearsal rooms, houses, factories, whatever, it's mobile. For what it might sound like listen to the non-live sh** on,,, etc etc. To get it touch - / 0424740061 (David).
Keep it real

Not Unlike The Rolling Stones - An Interview with Mental Powers

Mental Powers are an experimental rock band from Perth, Western Australia. They have been around for a while; to be honest I don’t know how long. They consist of five Caucasian males, in this way they are not dissimilar to The Rolling Stones. Every time I’ve seen them they have a slightly changed sound, for my tastes, they have been getting better each time, for others, they have become less appealing. This is the nature of change. As a deer runs wildly for its life through the dark, gnarled woods of Olde England, some hounds will keenly follow the scent and some will be thrown off the trail. Such is the nature of the metamorphosing popular artist. Does this mean that eventually the hounds of fame (love) will destroy Mental Powers? Time alone will tell.

As for some musical reference points for readers to cushion their impressions upon, I would say that the Mental Powers sound is that of a disorientated journey through a night-time desert landscape. At times there is beauty, at times confusion, sometimes there may be regret, possibly boredom. Palpitating, tribal rhythms and bass frequencies guide the journey as dewdrops of calm guitar collect on the weary traveller’s brow, and echo-laden vocals are heard from a distant dune. Occasionally a saxophone will emerge. At least that’s what it sounded like the last time I saw them. Recent recordings have unearthed a more jarring, post-punk side to the quintet. In quizzical terrain such as this, perhaps it is better for the band to speak for themselves, and to this end I have relayed the following questions to the singer/saxophonist of Mental Powers, Deni.

Echo-box verbiliser/sax blower, Deni of Mental Powers.
So, you wanted to be interviewed…and so it will be. Why did/do you want to be interviewed? This is not an attack or provocation of any sorts, I’m just wondering, what kind of stuff do you want to communicate to the readers in this interview and what is your motivation for this communication?

Not sure, should we need a reason for an interview?

How/when did Mental Powers come to be? What’s the current line-up of Mental Powers, and who does what?

Honestly, I don’t think Mental Powers have come to be yet. As you mentioned earlier, we are five which make for one. Just like the Rolling Stones ha ha, if that’s the case I’m Mick Jagger. Members play various instrumentation, who/what/how a sound is made is quite irrelevant. It’s an alto saxophone by the way, but I think it’s great you thought otherwise, it’s a real testament to my playing.

What was your initial motivation in forming a musical group, and have these motivations changed with time? Did you ever have any concrete aims like ‘let’s play some gigs’, ‘let’s put out a record’, ‘let’s impress some art school chicks’ when you started, and if so, would you actually admit to them? Was there anything that directly inspired your formation?

We all kinda just happened upon music, with exception to the final piece of Mental Powers. We don’t have an overall goal/agenda for the band. We’re operating at our own pace, I mean, we’ve been doing this for a while now (a while) and we play our 10th gig this month at a party that no one is allowed to come to at the request of the host. We’re not in a hurry to make it BIG or get a big support, tour or WAMi so on and so forth.

I can say whole heartedly it’s not about chicks! We’ve lost more chances through this endeavour than without, and it’s strained and broken up friendships, divided opinion; it’s more of a compulsion at this point than a need to be recognised. In fact, I’m constantly making the joke that when a certain part of the band gets a lady friend, we’ll go straight and start playing pop or become a boy band or something.

We have a working ethos to squeeze as much out of whatever it is we’re doing, for me I’m trying to get the most out of limited resource/knowledge/musicianship. Whether we’re achieving anything is not for us to decide anyway, but we won’t stop no matter what. This music comes as an extension of our lives. Make you’re arse stand put and think and your mind dance, that sort of thing. Sure we would admit to these accusations, we’ve got nothing to hide.

How would you describe the sound of Mental Powers, to someone of merely average popular/obscure music culture knowledge? I seem to have made a fairly strong point that your style is constantly changing in my introductory paragraphs, am I full of sh** or is this the case? Did you know what you want to sound like when you started or were/are you guys flailing around in the dark like drunk, horny teenagers?

Ah, well we have a few modes. You could say we’re polar opposites in a bunch of ways. Umm it’s kinda like, music in opposition, an automaton, like some kind of fucked up machine operating in spite of itself. It’s not fixed but in constant flux. What we put in isn’t exactly what we get out. In a way, we’re like the child of the great transformers. Like we began using conventional rock instruments, now it really don’t matter as long it makes a desired sound.

Each part of this band is inspired by different shit, stuff that others in the group can’t stand, and they bring a completely different style of playing. We don’t speak the same language most of the time.

Most of us have a visual arts background; we draw inspiration from all over, art, film, shit jobs, comics, nature and culture. You never know what you’ll get when we play that’s the guarantee.

Is the band a democracy or dictatorship? Realistically, do you think the best art is made by collaborative groups of like-minded people or through the singular visions of obsessed, isolated minds?

It’s the UN. However we have 5 singular visions, and we are all obsessed, isolated minds.

You’ve put on a few gigs/parties in the Perth ‘scene’, and from all accounts they were quite successful i.e. a good time. What was your experience of being the organiser/promoter as such as opposed to an attendee/performer, and will you put more on in the future? If not, why not? Do you think that the ‘DIY’ concept is strong in Perth or is there room for more?

The great thing about putting on things instead of not, is you get a chance to see bands play together that ordinarily wouldn’t, back to back in your living room. It’s like a dream. After the first couple a few parameters began to immerge. Like we wanted to be inclusive, we didn’t really give a fuck who you were and what ‘scene’ you belonged to. If you wanted to party, and you were doing something interesting, then you were good enough for us, we also were looking for new blood/talent and giving bands a chance to play who were emerging. I guess we were providing an alternative to Perth pub culture, when it works well some bands prefer it.

We couldn’t afford to pay anyone, or to charge anyone, but it wasn’t about that obviously. I used to say “it’s in the spirit of a good time, and time is precious, if you wanna share that, that’s payment enough.” And let’s be honest, we weren’t the first ones to do it (have parties or bands play at parties), the idea was to serve as a catalyst for others to have parties, more bands, new bands, things constantly happening in Perth etc.

Successful...yeah you know, we didn’t start this for any sort of credit, and we don’t want any. We’re turned on when someone else hosts a party, it’s good to see it happening, and it’d be great to see more people get involved on some level, but it’s hard with the rental situation as it is. I did say my 21st birthday party was the last one, but you gotta learn to never say never.

We see DIY as a platform for people trying to push what they do, not be motivated by any form of success or money, but strive for something special and you can tell when a bands going for it, just doing it. It’s not a pose, that’s the problem with this town. For us it’s all about integrity, you know, not being affected by opinion and just being honest with everyone. There are a couple of bands/promoters/labels that are doing it in town, and good on them, but it would be great if there was more.

What do you think of the Perth music ‘scene’? Is it the fertile, creative lovefest that organisations such as WAM would have you believe or a motley sea of mediocrity, dotted with small islands of original thought and action? Somewhere in-between? Do you guys have any personal favourites/rivals/nemesis/blood brothers?

The second one, but if everything was great, someone out there would be making something awful I’m quite sure.

Let me see favourite bands, right I’ll work alphabetically, Astral Travel are OK, they haven’t played for half a year or so, we play with them soon, I dunno what we’ll get, which is an exciting prospect. Bamodi are killer, they don’t play too much these days, but we gig with them this month, that’s a weird band man, people I’ve spoken to say all kinds of wild crap about what they sound like. Early emo was the funniest of these. Who is next, once 2, now 3, Cease it be, they’re always looking for a good time and have put on a few good shows.

Extortion is the only HC band worth watching in my opinion. Soul of Condemned Ape, I’m their biggest fan, it still breaks my heart, RIP you lousy quitters he-he. Whalehammer, which is a stranger choice than you’d think, because I don’t like the idea of side projects or improvisation, but what can I say, when you have an ability to arouse contempt in your fellow man, pure magick, and hey, especially the night of the one finger salute, you know what I mean.

Err what’s next hmm rivals, none that I know of. I don’t think we play enough or occupy the same space as anyone, I could be wrong.

Oh my favourite (not really), nemesis, the list is long but distinguished ha ha! For starters, liars, promise makers, profiteers, noise laptop wankers, pretenders, game players and corrosive losers who think they’re on the edge when they would have to be about as wild an accountant during tax time, those perpetrators know who they are, karma is coming to get ya, if it hasn’t already.

Blood brothers eh, you know what dude, most people wouldn’t share a drink with us, let alone our blood.

I know that you are a visual artist of some repute. Once I encountered a fairly bizarre photograph of you as a middle aged 1970’s suburban mother at a photo-portraiture competition at a gallery in Northbridge. You didn’t win the fairly substantial prize. What’s your background in the non-musical arts and are there any other renaissance men in the band? In the music-making world, do you think there a downside to the kind of post-modern, analytical/reinterpretive, diseased thought processes promoted/inherent in the ‘real art’ world?

Yeah four of us met at art school. I hate saying that though. Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand say that, on the up side so did Devo, Black Dice, Lightning Bolt, Talking Heads etc.

Strange question, basically so much of art is about context, and as a maker you have to be aware or self reflexive as to where you fit historically, but also within industry, your community and globally. Just like in the Terminator movies, Skynet becomes aware, it’s important to understand what you are and where you come from, but you gotta be careful because you may run risk of becoming strategic, revivalist, reactionary or contrived.

It’s not so clinical. We question not really looking to find any answers, but I hate it when I go to a gig and someone tells me a band is great because it sounds just like someone else.
I mean is it not a bad thing to sound like Sonic Youth or any other band for that matter?

You went to art school. That must have been a riot! Did they serve acid stew in the cafeteria? What was your ultimate ‘art school’ moment?

Art school is a lot more conservative than you’d think. I would have to say leaving art school.

You introduced me to the sweet song ‘Diamonds, Fur Coats, Champagne’ by Suicide. Do you think the Mental Powers stage act could benefit from some metal chain swinging Alan Vega-esque antagonism or are you just gonna keep it ‘chill’?

Umm, I don’t think we’re a confrontational band in that way. If we annoy people it’s because we’re sticking to our guns. We’ve come to a realisation that not everybody is gonna like what you do, but that shouldn’t make you stop. Life’s not meant to be an easy ride. Alan Vega even said he didn’t wanna be an escape from the horrors of the real world. Suicide is a reminder of that real world. That’s the problem with this current wave of electro pop twaddle, there’s no sleaze.

You are stuck on desert island with a totally avant photographer/conceptual artist babe, who has the keys to a pumpin’ jetboat, bought with the mad cash she acquired selling her formerly squalid, unheated Lower East Side New York loft to a lovely couple with a bright future in investment banking. What top five photographers/conceptual artists would you namedrop in order to hitch a ride back to civilisation? What would you blast on the jetboat boombox as you thunder back to civilisation?

No comment.

Finally, do you have any upcoming releases/gigs you would like to mention?

There is that party, but no one is allowed to come.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Upcoming Whalehammer gig - April 27th @ Velvet Lounge

'Static Reverence' LP & 'Incandescent Trails' live track available for download...

It's time to break out the potato crisps, discounted lung killers and duty-free booze as there have been some new additions to the Whalehammer online discography;
a.) Static Reverence (long-playing album)
This was the third album recorded by Whalehammer, or in this case, the Whalehammer duo. Richard and David recorded this one on a friday night in mid 2007 with the set-up of Korg MS2000 synthesizer, Alesis Micron synthesizer/vocoder, Fender Telecaster guitar and various pedals, into one mixer, into one amp, mic'd with an SM57, live to laptop. It has more blissed-out, controlled, electronic vibe than the full band Whalehammer releases.
There are four tracks;
1.) Narcoplex - drugged up drum machine shoegaze
2.) Vision Gate - 20 minute kaleidoscopic journey through a children's horror movie dreamworld
3.) Buried at Birth - synth/guitar lonesome prairiescape
4.) Electronic Prism Face - ecstatic adventures in arpeggiation
b.) Incandescent Trails - live track recorded at Scott's party, late 2007
This track was recorded at Scott's party in Leeming. This track goes for twenty minutes, building into a black cloud of noise which managed to blow up a fairly sizeable bass amplifier. At this point the track is forced to come down to earth in a haze of smoke, filling the room with the smell of electronic burnout. Recorded live to minidisc.
These titles can be downloaded from, in the Whalehammer folded. They will need to be unzipped upon receipt.
If you would like to get them on CD-R, send an email to