Share DEAD MAN HAS NO 2ND CHANCE - Damo Suzuki & The Holy Soul (Repressed Records)
One of Sydney's best and last independent music stores becomes a record label and issues an improv album by one of avant-garde music's pathfinders, backed by sorely underrated Australian band The Holy Soul. Sounds like a challenge and "Dead Man Has No 2nd Chance" certainly is.

This is a live set spanning an hour, recorded in Melbourne in 2008. It has just two songs and neither's gong to crack the Top 40. Of course that was never the intention. In fact if you hear this playing on radio other than 3RRR after the announcers have been getting into the brown acid I'll bare my arse on a rainy day in Bathurst Street and whistle Dixie. Or maybe not, but you get the drift.

Suzuki (one-time voice of German Krautrock precursors Can - not that environmentalist dude) travels the world doing these semi off-the-cuff gigs and there's no shortage of wilful local bands to accompany him. In this instance, The Holy Soul are augmented by Drones member Dan Luscombe on keys and Peter Newman on laptop to supply electronic washes. Whether he uses a PC or a Mac isn't made apparent.

Second things first and "Strangers In Blue" is a swirling, hard-edged blues concoction with Suzuki alternately intoning, imploring and growling about fuck knows what. A Bar denizen who heard this reckoned she spoke gibberish fairly fluently but had nothing on Damo. It matters little; the man uses his voice as an instrument, not as a means of imparting words. It's one powerful device. It's compelling to listen to the aural equivalent of backward-masked guitar and muse that widespread adoption of this could put the makers of tele-prompters out of business. I think I made out: "Why sleep when you're a white rhino who's wise" but it may have been a Coca Cola and aspirin flashback, or the after effects of those anti-malaria tablets from the Africa trip three years ago.

Opening song (or are these "pieces"?) is "A Stone Of Fortune" and it's a hypnotic if unnerving stroll through sticky carpet wonderland for two-thirds of its 35-minutes before Suzuki and his wickedly capable backing combo whip it up into a crescendo and a wind-down.

Full marks to The Holy Soul for assembling the sonic platform for Mr Suzuki to launch from. Sam Worrad's bass-playing is the backbone but each of the players gets a crack in the sonic wall to peer through. Guitarists Jon Hunter and Trent Marden wreak some havoc, while drummer Kate Wilson's roller-coaster feels are on the money. The mix is crystal clear without lacking power and the subtleties of the parts of the whole are apparent.- The Barman



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