By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
Sydney musician, label owner and gig organiser Lachlan Dale has done his bit and then some to help pump up the obscure end of local heavy music over the past 10 years and more.
His label, Art As Catharsis, releases doom, drone, noise, acoustic-folk, Ethio-jazz freakouts, whatever – as long as it’s heavy and interesting.
Anytime would be a good time to interview the guy, but now seems especially pertinent with the imminent release of the third album by Adrift For Days, for whom he plays psychedelic doom guitar, and the return of his personally curated NEGFEST this weekend (and next weekend in Melbourne for the first time).
Is Art As Catharsis and what the label puts out related directly to your tastes, or is it more a case of getting music out there that isn’t getting out via other labels / means?
I’m slowly discovering where I want to take the label. In the past I think I lacked the confidence to follow through with my ideas. These days I’m comfortable releasing any style of music as long as it moves me – doom/drone, Ethio-jazz freakouts, blackened hardcore, acoustic folk, string ensembles, ambient/noise acts… At the same time, I’ve witnessed the withering of the Sydney music scene. I’ve only just come to realise how deeply wounded it is – the result of many years of bleeding by all levels of government, and the preferencing of property development over culture. It’s both infuriating and deeply motivating. I’m determined to do what I can to help grow the Sydney and wider Australian music scene.
Adrift For Days has something new out for the first time in a while. Tell us about where the band is at these days, when the A Sleepless Gray material was put together.
A Sleepless Grey took us five years to write, rehearse and record. We wanted to avoid repeating ourselves, so the album’s development was not a fast process. We took our time to experiment with our writing process, and working through moods and ideas that at first seemed a little unnatural. It wasn’t easy, but we’re all proud of where we’ve landed. The themes still gravitate towards ritual, drone, transformative experiences, death… It’s never something we’ve tried to define, but there is a deeply personal element to our music. It’s like a journey into our collective unconscious.
What fidelity goals did you go into the studio with, how did the process work, and what’s the feeling now when listening to it?
We recorded and mixed with our long-time collaborator Tim Carr. While we had the songs together, Tim made sure it all made sense sonically. He’s been a big part of the sound on previous records. The drums were done in just one and a half days – not by design, but by necessity. Then we spent more time than ever have before just mixing, experimenting, overdubbing, trying to work on sections that weren’t quite breaking through. When the instrumental tracks had almost taken shape, our vocalist Mick [Kaslik] locked himself away in his home studio to write all of his parts over the course of a few weeks. Mell Dettmer – who has worked in Sunn O))), Boris, Earth – mastered the record. She gave it a bone-crunching heaviness that seems to be her trademark. Personally, I’m deeply content with the result. I suppose now we’ll find out how others feel.
What other music are you making at the moment?
I’ve been playing with Hashshashin, a sort of Middle Eastern drone/prog band, and I released Ankaa with Serious Beak 18 months ago. Our bassist Matt [Williams] has been gigging with the rawkus Face Command and surf rockers La Tarantella. Other than that, we’ve been reasonably quiet.
NEGFEST is on again this weekend and then heading to Melbourne next weekend. What you are aiming for with each NEGFEST line-up?
This will be the second NEGFEST, and the first time the festival will appear in Melbourne as well as Sydney. In the previous edition, I tried to anticipate what other people might like. With this year’s festival, I’ve just pulled together my favourite heavy, negative Australian bands – people who I think are doing something different, or particularly intense. The headliners are Hope Drone and Encircling Sea. Cascades and Adrift For Days are also playing both shows. It’s a balance of black metal, doom, post-hardcore – the heavy music that really resonates with me. In my opinion, these are some of the best bands Australia has to offer. All funds will go to the promotion of nihilism among children.
Get a taster of Adrift For Days – A Sleepless Grey, out June 6 on Art As Catharsis:
NEGFEST Sydney is on this Saturday, May 6, at The Chippendale Hotel w/ Hope Drone, Encircling Sea, Dumbsaint, Adrift for Days, Cascades, Narrow Lands and 100 Years of Solitude.
NEGFEST Melbourne is on next Saturday, May 13, at The Reverence Hotel w/ Encircling Sea, YLVA, Hope Drone, Adrift for Days, In Trenches, Cascades and No Haven.