[ C l a n . A n a l o g u e ]
[ t e x t . o n l y . v e r s i o n ]
by rush madder
It may sound like a clandestine, white supremacist group with its own arcane language, but Clan Analogue is no One Nation wannabe. Rather, it is Australia's largest electronic arts collective, an organisation committed to spreading the electronic word through sound, vision and ideas.
Formed in the early 90s in Sydney, Clan Analogue is a collective of artists, musicians, designers and programmers that have come together to share their interest in the electronic arts. Since its humble beginnings as a group of six guys checking out keyboards in a suburban loungeroom, the Clan has spread out throughout Australia like a computer virus, with members in nearly every state. Along the way, Clan members have held countless live events, released seven CDs, four EPs, a video, produced radio programs and kept a constant presence on the Web at their home location http://clananalogue.org
Clan Analogue has had a influential role in the development of Australian electronic music in the 90s with such disparate artists as Atone, Infusion, Southend, BooBoo, Sherif Lindo, B(if)tek, Nerve Agent, The Telemetry Orchestra and Hypnoblob all having released tracks on Clan Analogue recordings at some time in recent years. The collective has worked with such avant-garde personalities as John Rose and Terence McKenna while supporting national tours for the likes of the Young Gods and OnU Sound. The Clan also boasts an exciting history in live music production, with years of experience in producing club nights at venues such as the Bentley Bar, Mr Goodbar and the now defunct Blue Fox in Kings Cross.
1998 has been a hectic year for Clan Analogue with two CD releases so far, exciting domestic and international press attention, involvement in a new consortium of Australian labels called Sunblock and a new distribution deal just signed with Festival records. The collective is riding high on the critical bandwagon with the release of the second album from Sydney-based dub electronica act Atone -- "Crucified, Stitched Up And Then Some" -- which has established that band at the forefront of Australian electronic music.
I managed to hook up with a few of the members of the Clan after one of their meetings on the top floor of a dilapidated warehouse overlooking Sydney harbour -- Toby Grime, one of Clan's founding members; Andrew Jones, a member of the Telemetry Orchestra¹ and Clan's label manager, Gordon Finlayson.
SEVENMAG: Why did you start the Clan?
TOBY: The initial aims of the collective were to establish a coherent network of electronic music composers so that self-published works on vinyl and CDs could become a reality. The extreme lack of support for anything electronic in Australia was the initiative that this group of people experienced and wanted to do something about. It was also to enable artists to perform live in clubs and at events that were usually more suited to DJs -- as it was important to create support for local composers to enable crowds to experience their work first hand and to realise that amazing electronic music was being created under their very noses.
SEVENMAG: So, what's this analogue thing about?
GORDON: The reference to analogue equipment really comes from an interest in old analogue synthesisers made in the 70s and 80s. The reference to analogue is more of a statement of the collective's roots than a strict definition of current directions, but at the same time I think that there's a shared love in the Clan for the warmth of the old Roland, Korg and Moog synths that you just don't get in contemporary digital keyboards. There's no way you're going to find a new keyboard that has any of the style of an old modular synth like a Roland System 100, or the wood paneling of a minimoog, although I do have to admit that manufacturers such as Nord have been covering huge ground in order to bring back the sounds of yesteryear -- without the wood.
TOBY: Analogue technology also allows an entirely different headspace in which to operate -- people can collaborate creatively and jam together in ways not possible with menu-driven digital systems. Many members also bought old analogue synths many years ago when the high price of digital technology prohibited them from owning such new technology . . . analogue synths were cheap, attainable and somewhat forgotten. These days, most members maintain an interesting balance of both digital and analogue technologies in their sonic pursuits. I guess it's a Ying and Yang thing!
SEVENMAG: What defines a Clan release -- is there a particular aesthetic to Clan CDs or visuals?
TOBY: The Clan has a label identity, which is realised through the actual visual look as well as its sonic characteristics. The artwork is usually done by the artists themselves, with all Clan releases/fliers/promo/Internet work being done by members of the collective -- more often than not looking highly creative and imaginative, shying a long away from anything that has a 'commercial' tag to it. Quite often, work seen on the CD covers themselves may be exhibited in galleries as well.
ANDREW: At a sonic level, the one defining element that holds the recordings together is their ability to push the boundaries of electronic music in general. Composers in Clan Analogue represent the very cutting edge of electronic music creation in Australia and it's becoming rapidly apparent that this work is being taken seriously as well on an international level. The recordings' underlying sensitivity and honesty to creating excellent music is always apparent on the releases; it's always clear that this is music created by people who want to do this and make a difference, hence the longevity of the collective comes as no surprise.
SEVENMAG: What are the benefits of composing music within the context of the collective?
ANDREW: Clan creates a space in which it is possible to experiment musically and to share ideas and sounds. It also presents an excellent alternative to the traditional music industry by producing albums that aren't just informed by gross commercialism and mainstream aesthetics.
TOBY: When you're working in the electronic arts there's always a lot of technological information that you need to know in order to keep up with the latest developments. The Clan helps to share that information between its members, especially through our email list and Web pages.
SEVENMAG: Clan has recently teamed up with a number of other Australian labels to form the Sunblock¹ group. What's behind this move, are you going to form an electronic superlabel?
GORDON: Sunblock was an idea that was thought of by Andrew Kornweibel from Gulp Communications to develop links within Australia between record labels who were in a similar headspace to promote electronic music in this country and overseas. The group now includes six different labels, with Angel's Trumpet, Ozone and If from Melbourne; Clan and Gulp in Sydney and Offworld Sounds from Perth making it a pretty exciting project. Sunblock has a CD compilation of artists from all the labels coming out through Ozone and MDS in August. But, no, we're all going to keep our individual identities as well.
SEVENMAG: So what is next from the Clan?
GORDON: In terms of events, were are going to be contributing to the electronic music festival Freaky Loops 98¹ at the University of Sydney on September 12 and other Clan acts will be appearing at the Sunblock National Tour later this year. In Sydney the Clan runs a radio program on 2SER every Wednesday from 2.30-4.00 p.m. As well as that , we've got two more Clan CD releases planned for this year, "Jaunt 2", a compilation of bass heavy electronica and "Live Better Electrically"¹ by the Telemetry Orchestra. It's been a pretty busy year.
You can email writer Rush Madder at firstname.lastname@example.org