In 1988, the compact disc was killing vinyl, but avant-garde Brisbane composer Eugene Carchesio (now better knows as a visual artist) didn’t care. He sent off the master tape of his latest work, 47 Songs Humans Shouldn’t Sing to get pressed; the factory folded, and the tapes were lost. Somehow, thankfully, the master recordings resurfaced, to be repackaged, resurrected and reiterated last year.
47 Songs Humans Shouldn’t Sing is just that: 47 instrumental tracks between 30 seconds and two minutes long. Each track is a little domain of its own, establishing a motif or a riff on sax, guitar or synthesiser, and then abruptly ending – it’s an album of overabundant creativity, lots of little ideas jammed together. A bit will remind you of Albert Ayler, the next of ESG, the next of a Zappa breakdown, and so on. And yet it feels contemporary – it’s got the same catalogue-punk spirit of early Deerhoof recordings, for example, or the Deerhunter of Cryptograms. It’s exciting to hear music like this coming out of Australia – albeit the echo of an American model, and one that took twenty years to reach a wider audience. As a bit of music heritage, it shows just how weird and free Australian music could be.