Sabbatical are hard to pin down – Noise and it's attendants seem to be a focus, but beyond that, the real interest would seem to be quality. One can rely on a Sabbatical release being a fine example of whatever wedge of the sonic spectrum it's emanating from. Basically, I recommend all available product. Releases are limited editions of at the most 200 so sleep not.
I'm fortunate enough to have a fine selection at my disposal and I really should have written more about it all some time ago, but well, I didn't. I aim to rectify this slowly over the coming weeks, beginning this sharp winters day with a pungent confection from Absoluten Calfeutrail entitled Braybrook. A short run of 40 on cassette has allowed few to hear this so it really does want discussing so it's existence can be acknowledged – because it's decent, at the very least.
Braybrook, if we mean the industrial suburb in Victoria, Australia, is not a trendy inner city suburb. Wikipedia tells me it's got a decent immigrant population, and that there is a pentecostal church in the area. It's described as suburb where people live but commute to work elsewhere – a bedroom suburb. I'd not heard that term before today, but it seems to be a fair summation of not only this place but a great many like it that exist the world over. Inhabited but tired and weary, places to sleep. I might be unpacking a little too much from the packaging of this cassette, but it seems to be a puzzle to be picked at; Mark Groves, the author, is cursed with being a deep thinker and it may be that I'm required to engage on a certain level – to submerge myself in this small yet significant release – to get the most from it. Its' easy enough though, really, if I allow myself to go with my first thought – the discussion is class, economics, money based. This would not be all though; Side one is a planing tone of sound the evokes distance, aircraft flying overhead, a whining sonic that is a giant drill, a flock of mechanical insects, distant traffic and transport which one sleeps and eats in and does little else but watch Hey Hey it's Saturday every Wednesday. Side Two takes a different tactic, as a warbling bleat keeps a kind of rythym underneath which drums of objects turn and voices seem chruned into non-intelligble sound before an eruption occurs then decasy into muttering befoe the final track brings us to another shaking beat that decasy into a an alsmost pathetic thumping before the silence arrives, completing the journey into Braybrook. It's bleak. Of course it is. It's from a place that is nowhere, nothing.
It's just that it isn't. There are people in Braybrook, there's a community centre, a catholic school (of course there's a catholic school. Catholicism is synonymous with the working class in Australia). There's life. More than that, there's history.
So is this cassette, named for a suburb, is not a hymn to the nothingness of working class lives, but something else, for Mark Groves is cursed with being a deep thinker, and to suggest that this exploration is a trendy Fitzroy wanker freaking out about the horror of the suburbs – well, no. Braybrook is an attempt to discuss history and change in a tiny pocket of Melbourne. I had to research to get that but I've been spoon fed by track names and imagery and it's easy to see the arc of narrative on this release – and I really must say, a noise cassette that's about the history, about the rise and fall of a suburb? That points to the industrialisation of agriculture and all that is implied by that moment for Australia itself? Using the small to point to the large? I never would have thought of that, not being that much of a student of Australina history, and now I have and I'm the better for it. This sonic reaction to historical moments and events is a well-defined and thoughtful piece that evokes questions and encourages me to think further.
This is an excellent release; the sounds contained herein are interesting impressions of the patterns of history, informed by research and crafted with care. Meticulous, thought out and controlled, they demand a cool listen coupled with thought and research to unpack, although they were pretty good just to have playing while I made dinner as well.
If you can find one of these small gems, get it. Braybrook will satisfy.