Melbourne abstract techno act Freejack is Liam Osborne (Flesh World, Synthetic Texxxture) in slow woozy dance mode. His new track The Mind Exhumed sounds like floating around in an alien nightclub with your head on backwards, trapped in a massive helium balloon. Sparse drum programming punctuates intimate electronic textures and abstract samples with deft restraint, suggesting half-understood nightclub conversations and the perverse pleasure of feeling slightly unwell. While other acts in the Melbourne techno scene are concerning themselves with new modes of dancefloor strategy, Osborne approaches minimal electronics from a far more oblique perspective. We caught up to talk about clubs, conceptual art and techno punks.
THUMP: You've been playing some great shows lately with Melbourne underground electronic heads such as Cale Sexton. You two did a collaboration recently too - how did you hook up with those guys?
Liam Osborne: Cale and I met when Silent Servant played in Melbourne last year, which is a good foundation for the type of collaboration that we wanted to do. I like Cale and I approached him to do a collaboration because I thought it would be interesting and get me out of my comfort zone, it was a fun show and we released a two track tape which is out now.
Considering a lot of that crew are punk people who have moved into electronica, how do you think that background influences the approach toward what you are making?
I was in a punk band when I was 18 and being in a punk band can be closed because it's always about dogma. The approach is the same in the sense that it's about cobbling ideas together and trying to create new sounds in a defined style. The band I played in was always about meddling together different types of music and I feel like that is the same the electronic music I make. Going to punk and noise shows as a kid (and still of course) it's natural to pick up a synth and sampler because it's a participatory environment.
The Melbourne dark electronic scene seems to have strong ties to the art world too. Do you see a conceptual connection there?
I study fine arts so I can't deny that aspect of the music, I am an aestheticist first and a music maker second. There is always s a conceptual strand running through my music. Packaging and artwork is very important to me. I don't think it necessarily has to be dark though, humour is always key.
Do you have a major focus on releasing physical product? Matthew Brown has said that he's against formats as they commodify techno too much. What are your thoughts on this?
I think the biggest problem with physical product is the detritus. Most shitty records don't need to exist, weak music that goes through an expensive and wasteful cycle to become another dollar bin record. I want to release records but the music has to be of a quality that warrants the process. That's why tapes are perfect; they are inexpensive, ephemeral and have one of the best sound qualities. But I love records and want the validation of having a record out: The next Freejack release will be a record.
How interested are you in playing large club shows? Do you have an interest in crossing over into a wider stream of electronica or would you prefer to stay cult?
I am open for anything. I do feel that playing in smaller spaces to people who give a shit is great, but there's something deliciously sociopathic about providing vacuous, unoccupied people music to vapidly engage with. I don't give a shit about staying underground or being successful, any new situation I am open to.
What is your involvement with Future Archaic?
It's the tape label I run. It's an attempt to bring together the most interesting and challenging music in Melbourne and to a lesser extent wider Australia. It's a study of time and place and not of genre.
What do you have planned release wise?
Personally I'm working on an EP to shop around labels and a new tape with my other project Lucid Castration. Future Archaic just released five great tapes from Cooper Bowman, Sussex St Death Squad, Cervere, Lucid Castration and Freejack/Ironhead (Cale) which is available here and I have new tapes coming shortly out from Von Einem, Porpoise Torture and Armour Group. Viva.
Freejack's debut cassette is out now through Future Archaic.