Collide & Android Lust – new albums to take you away

Collide album Color of NothingCollide is one of those artists I turn to for background music — which isn’t to say that the duo’s music is without its edges, just that usually it’s the kind of cruisy, atmospheric electronica that makes the rest of the world fade away.

Not so with their new album, Color of Nothing.

Statik and kaRIN have come out fighting, with guitars leading the attack.

Opener “Wake Up” announces this urgency, the swell and subside of electronica topped by explosions of buzzing guitar as the song unfurls. The energy runs through the entire album, taking on a dance-floor groove in “Soul Crush,” an infectious swagger in “Side to Side”, a slow burn in love song “Fix”.

It’s still distinctively a Collide album, with Statik commander-in-chief in the studio and kaRIN’s bringing the evocative vocals (indeed, here there’s more of a consistent collision of those smooth vocals with spiky instrumentation than before). She touches on themes ranging from the global (“Blurring the Edges,” “Pale Blue”) to the intensely personal (“Intruder,” “Freaks Me Out”); from comfort, to resignation, to defiance.

A fitting soundtrack for 2017.

Android Lust album BerlinSpeaking of soundtracks, fresh on the download is Berlin: Crater Vol.2, from Android Lust. Oh my!

Funded through Kickstarter, the album was developed in part from Shikhee’s found-sound adventures in Berlin. On early listens, I’m not sure I’m getting much impression of that particular place, nor a sense of an unfolding narrative such as drove the (predominately) soundscapes of the water-themed Crater Vol.1, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the outing – one of sonic postcards, perhaps, possibly as much in time as space.

Which is not to say this album isn’t transportative – far from it. There’s an air of the urban – a subway feel on the analogue styling of “Daughters of Dawn” (think Glass Candy), a rain-washed city scape perhaps seen from the cab or bus window in the fetching “Heart Tunnel”, and the familiar touch of AL-style industrial (“In Memory”, “Insects”). And is that a ghostly callout to AL’s “Stained” on “Plaza Steps”? Elsewhere, muted conversation and bird chirps, the beeping of an alarm clock and patter of rain, offer a feeling of melancholy enlivened by digital rays of sunshine.

As always, the Android Lust journey rewards multiple, close listens, the layers revealing – suggesting – more the deeper one submerges. Down here in the depths of winter, it’s the perfect weather for it.

And while I’m getting excited about new music, on the near horizon is a new EP from Nine Inch Nails, Add Violence, in which it appears we’re getting songs of resistance and defiance. First taster “Less Than” shows some retro-style frustration, while second release “This Isn’t the Place” feels like a bridge at song No.3 on the five-song EP. Bring it on!



 

Keeping up, when the future is now

wind-powered greenhouse in victoria

Image: reneweconomy.com.au

One of the hardest parts about writing a near-future novel is keeping ahead of the news, but that’s not always a bad thing. For instance, here’s a news article about an awesome project in Victoria: a massive glasshouse for growing vegetables that will be totally powered by an adjacent wind farm. Extra rehab points for being built on the site of an old gold mine!

Meanwhile, the federal government and the Queensland government appear intent on dropping their dacks for Adani’s Carmichael coal minean unconscionable project by any metric you want to apply.

And here I am, with a mosaic novel* set in near-future Queensland (mainly Brisbane) in which the Galilee coal mines feature prominently — as stranded assets, now being converted into, you guessed it, giant greenhouses. (One of the three stories involving Galilee has been selected for the Ecopunk! anthology, coming from Ticonderoga Publications — the TOC looks amazing!)

It’d be really neat to have to rewrite the stories because the governments in question grew some social conscience (and economic nous) and canned the entire idea (I can hear the Asia-Pacific nations who are begging the world to stop building coal-fired power stations from here), but I can’t see that happening.

It’s a bit like the narrative spike I copped when BP (boo! not forgiven for Deepwater Horizon) pulled out of exploration in the Great Australian Bight, only to be replaced by Chevron. And so the battle, and the story, goes on …

* mosaic novel = a fictional work made up of interconnected short stories; the form has many names (composite novel and novel-in-stories are just two of the more common ones, but I prefer mosaic)
 

Carmichael mine a ‘white elephant’

Photo: nealehaynes.com

Two telling quotes from a fascinating interview with lawyer James Thornton, the driving force behind environmental law firm ClientEarth:

Climate change is so real that people in charge of other people’s money need to understand that it is now a financial risk

And, about Adani’s proposal for a huge coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland (with their hands out for massive government assistance):

If it is ever built, it will be the biggest subsidised white elephant in the world

  • Read the full article
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    Mythomorphosis: tales of paranormal Brisbane

    years best australian fantasy and horrorBack in 2015, SQ Mag published my story “Night Blooming”. It featured Shane Hall, a homicide detective, and Manasa Chalmers, a corporate security operative from India, united by happenstance and searching for a lost teenager.

    There were a couple of points of difference to the typical buddy cop story, firstly in that Brisbane, as with the rest of the world, is experiencing “mythomorphosis”, in which people are transforming into mythical creatures, and secondly, in that this strange and little-understood phenomenon was affecting our heroines quite personally.

    I was chuffed and pleasantly surprised for “Night Blooming” to be selected for Ticonderoga Publications’ latest anthology of Australian fantasy and horror, their Year’s Best 2015 — see the table of contents below*, salivate, then order it, my friends!

    and then ... anthology volume 1But wait, there’s more! Because hitting the digital shelves at the end of 2016, ahead of a paperback release this month, is And Then … Vol.1 from Clan Destine Press. This tome features 15 longer tales starring dynamic partnerships, a varied and exotic selection of Antipodean adventure stories (here be dragons, and so much more!).

    Among the first offering (TOC below) is my “The Mermaid Club”, another outing for Shane and Manasa. I’ve written a little about the story over at Sophie Masson’s website, but proof’s in the pudding. Not to give too much away, the pair suspect their’s something fishy about a kidnapping at a rich man’s club … Ebook here, paperback to come, with Vol.2 close on its heels!

    * you will notice a certain Kirstyn McDermott in the list! doubly chuffed!

    Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2015 TOC

    Joanne Anderton — 2B

    Alan Baxter — The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner

    Deborah Biancotti — Look How Cold My Hands Are

    Stephen Dedman — Oh, Have You Seen The Devil

    Erol Engin — The Events at Callan Park

    Jason Fischer — The Dog Pit

    Dirk Flinthart — In the Blood

    Kimberley Gaal — In Sheep’s Clothing

    Stephanie Gunn — The Flowers That Bloom Where Blood Touches Earth

    Lisa Hannett — Consorting With Filth

    Robert Hood — Double Speak

    Kathleen Jennings — A Hedge of Yellow Roses

    Maree Kimberley — Ninehearts

    Jay Kristoff — Sleepless

    Martin Livings — El Caballo Muerte

    Danny Lovecraft — Reminiscences of Herbert West

    Kirstyn McDermott — Self, Contained

    Sally McLennan — Mr Schmidt’s Dead Pet Emporium

    DK Mok — Almost Days

    Faith Mudge — Blueblood

    Samantha Murray — Half Past

    Jason Nahrung — Night Blooming

    Garth Nix — The Company of Women

    Anthony Panegyres — Lady Killer

    Rivqa Rafael — Beyond the Factory Wall

    Deborah Sheldon — Perfect Little Stitches

    Angela Slatter Bluebeard’s Daughter

    Cat Sparks — Dragon Girl

    Lucy Sussex — Angelito

    Anna Tambour — Tap

    Kaaron Warren — Mine Intercom
     

    And Then Vol.1 TOC

    Introduction by Janeen Webb

    Sulari Gentil — Catch a Fallen Star

    Jason Nahrung — The Mermaid Club

    Alan Baxter — Golden Fortune, Dragon Jade

    Jason Franks — Exli and the Dragon

    Lucy Sussex — Batgirl in Borneo

    Amanda Wrangles — Come Now, Traveller

    Evelyn Tsitas — Stealing Back the Relics

    Peter M Ball — Deadbeats

    Narrelle M Harris — Moran & Cato: Virgin Soil

    Dan Rabarts — Tipuna Tapu

    Kat Clay — In the Company of Rogues

    Sophie Masson — The Romanov Opal

    Tor Roxburgh — The Boudicca Society

    Emilie Collyer — The Panther’s Paw

    Tansy Rayner Roberts — Death at the Dragon Circus
     

    2017 Calendar of Australian Literary Events

    calendarWelcome to 2017, and what is already looking like a crowded calendar of literary events in Australia — some events have already staked claims as far out as November! Check out the 2017 calendar of Australian literary events!

    As always, updates, notifications and corrections are appreciated!

    Dreaming in the Dark: seeing the light in Brisbane

    dreaming in the dark

    A reminder, friends: I’m chuffed to be attending the Brisbane launch of the Dreaming in the Dark anthology, edited by Jack Dann and published by UK-based PS Publishing. Still gotta pinch myself when I look at the contributors to this epic tome of Aussie speculative fiction.

    So yes, it’s worth a party with contributors (edited to add more — huzzah!) Veny Armanno, Paul Brandon, Kirstyn McDermott, Angela Slatter, Janeen Webb, Kim Wilkins and me in attendance; Paul and Sarah Calderwood will provide some musical atmosphere; Jack will do his thing; the book will be launched and you’ll be able to get your copy signed by a third of the contributors in one fell swoop!

    Please join us, at Dymocks Brisbane in Albert St, on Thursday 8 December from 6pm. It’s free, but RSVPs are being taken here.

    Dreaming up a story: Eromon No More

    dreaming in the darkWhere do your ideas come from, folks ask. Good luck answering that (aisle 3 at the shopping centre doesn’t cut it, I’ve found). But here’s an insight into the making of my yarn Eromon No More, which I’m bloody chuffed to have included in Jack Dann’s anthology Dreaming in the Dark (now available to order) where it rubs shoulders with some truly impressive talents — and is also a rare occurrence of Kirstyn and myself having a yarn in the same book.

    So, I can trace the spark of the idea back to a panel at a Continuum convention in Melbourne (happening again June 9-12 2017) where the absence of variety in high/second world fantasy was noted. Not many old people as protagonists, for instance. And I’d been taken with the portrayal of Lamb in Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country, a damaged soldier trying to find some peace.

    I nutted out a short yarn, deliberately generic, in which an old coot and a young thing have fled war for the peace and hard yakka of a farm, only war comes to find them — it was meant to be kind of a satire or a critique, but never really got there.

    I sent this to Jack for Dreaming. And he said: Give me more.

    My story in Jack’s Dreaming Again remains one of my favourites: his faith and commitment to that yarn kept me in the game at a time when I could happily have given it away. Then, as now, he said to give him more. Now, as then, I went looking.

    winds of change anthologyThe original skeleton of the yarn remained much the same, but I tapped the feel of a fantastical Australia (most of my yarns are set here, one way or another; I need a very specific reason to not set a yarn in my country) I’d conjured up for another story, Wraiths (Winds of Change, 2011) to breathe life into the setting and add some cultural nuance.

    But where did those two characters come from? They’re probably a construct or amalgam of stories read and watched, maybe even some D&D played, their characters assembled consciously and subconsciously … Who knows? Aisle 3 is as good a suggestion as any.

    I do know the story title is a nod to the suburban habit of naming houses Emoh Ruo I first encountered in My Brother Jack, and perhaps was a call to George Johnston’s desire to escape that reality that ultimately he didn’t seem able to. Maybe it illustrates the characters’ motivation and ill fate. Or perhaps it had no deeper meaning than a bit of fun wordplay for a dark story that tries to end on (for me) an uncharacteristically lighter note.

    Funny, too, how what was meant to be just a bit of scenery, in this case a chicken, came to have a metaphorical role in the story. That idea must’ve been on special in the supermarket that day.

    Funnily enough, I’ve still got another iteration of this story in the back of my brain. One with a goose. And even half an idea for another story involving these two characters. Another trip to the supermarket may be required!

  • Dreaming in the Dark has 21 stories from writers including Sean Williams, Garth Nix, Angela Slatter, Terry Dowling … it’s a cornucopia of Aussie writing. Check it out here.

  • The Brisbane launch is at Dymocks, 17 Albert St, on Thursday 8 December from 6pm. There will be readings, live music, drinks, signings and bonhomie! It would be lovely to see a few Brissie pals there! Free to attend, but please RSVP!