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The Shape of Sound

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In a city spoiled for choice with quality local music, one Melbourne’s most fascinating scenes goes criminally under-appreciated. ‘Experimental’ is a term used to describe music made by artists exploring sounds in a way that sits well outside the realm of mainstream taste.

Peter James is at the forefront of the Melbourne experimental music scene, playing in acts such as Monolith and Wolf 359 as well as running the label Iceage Productions. In 2011 he began documenting the scene in the form of ‘The Shape of Sound’ compilations. He’s recently released the second volume and this Thursday night sees a number of artists from the compilation play The Grace Darling to launch the album.

Milk Bar had a chat with James ahead of the launch.

MILK BAR: What inspired you to compile and release ‘The Shape of Sound’ compilations?
PETER JAMES: I was an enthusiast of underground/punk compilations as a kid. As I got further into the Melbourne experimental scene I realised a lot of artists didn’t have a great deal of avenues to release their music and when they did it was difficult to gain exposure.

I wanted to document what was happening at a certain point in time and so ‘The Shape Of Sound’ was born. It was quite difficult putting out Volume 1 as I had no idea what I was doing. I did however have the idea of grouping new artists with established ones to try and introduce them to a wider audience.

MB: Can you tell us a bit about some of the artists playing the launch?
PJ: Monolith is my solo project and Galactagogue are one of Melbourne’s finest harsh noise projects. Admin Bldg whip up a storm of semi-improvised punk jazz and Bonnie Mercer (Grey Daturas) is one of Melbourne’s most talented and unique guitar slingers. The evening will be topped off with a set by the irresistibly shambolic Mad Nanna.

MB: Could you tell us a bit about your label?
PJ: I started Iceage Productions in 2005 to release my own material. I had no expectations when I began other than to document my own work. I was inspired by local labels like Shame File Music and Zero Cabal to grow the label into something more by releasing other artists’ work.

‘The Shape of Sound’ Volume 2 is launching at The Grace Darling Hotel in Collingwood, Thursday March 22 from 8:30pm.

Check out some of the bands on ‘The Shape of Sound’ at the Iceage Bandcamp.


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