Making good use of the apocalypse 
June 2021

Caveat Tumultum
is a warning, a proviso of impending violence, disturbance or noise.

Caveat Tumultum is my debut album as Bacchus Harsh. A new project seeded on residency at Arteles Creative Centre in rural Finland and completed in Melbourne Australia 2020. Written and composed in Finland and mixed and arranged in Melbourne lockdown during the Covid19 Pandemic.

Caveat Tumultum charts a sonic journey deterritorializing some of my favourite genres through pirating, stealing, sampling, corrupting and mutating. Taking cult cinema, occult electronics, noise, breakcore, industrial techno, extreme metal and amplifying them onto a dystopian and anxious dancefloor experience. Music that  was once complete, idyllic and beautiful has now been processed, subverted and mutated into something more reflective of these times. The sonic wreckage of the end of the 20th century plundered and sampled. Soundtracks merged with field recordings sits amidst a present cacophony of polyrhythms, blast beats and distorted drums. 

Bacchus Harsh came to me in 2020 after a 10 year hiatus from making experimental electronic music. The moniker Xian came to me around 2000 and was exhausted by 2010. I loved the no rules approach to breakcore but after a while it became predictable and stagnant. Not much progressed within the genre and change never came… only new toys and faster processors.

Bacchus Harsh is an attempt to create abstract music that deviates from the western quadrant structuring of both music software and music theory itself. Exploring how one can bend rules and work the machine back on itself. Most DAW’s all follow the western mode of classical music with key and time signatures and rhythmic notation. Its a two hundred year old system created in europe called the equal temperament. There is little room left to expand and experiment on the nuances found in microtonal and generative music on most DAW’s. Essentially it is a tool to colonize all music. Composition starts to become about assimilation with the app, program or software that you are using. Assimilating with the machine, assimilating into genres and simplifying sound.    

I’m from Bacchus Marsh
February 2021

I grew up in Bacchus Marsh, a small town approximately a day’s travel on horseback or a 40 minute drive by car through Melbourne’s West. Bacchus Marsh was known for its orchards, market gardens, youth suicide rate and violence.

When I was sixteen my friends put on a party; their parents had gone away. My friends and I were avid collectors of anything that deviated from the sonic norm of our small town. We opted for punk, post punk, skate rock and metal over the Top 40 on EON or Fox FM, or the cricket or footy on crackly AM radio. In those days it was all about cassettes and vinyl; if you wanted to play music for someone you’d cart a crate of records to their place…. once their parents had left for the night.

We congregated in the corrugated iron double-car shed at the back of my mate’s house; our gathering illuminated by the flat, totalising glow of ceiling-mounted fluorescent tube lighting.

My friends and I had arrived with crates upon crates of the most questionable records ever pressed, from Echo and the Bunnymen to Bad Brains. The crew was small but the party was pumping, it was every Bacchus Marsh teen’s dream: no parents, a mad bonfire, bowls of chips, an abundance of cabana from the Tuckerbag Deli and Southern Comfort. Like all small town parties, uninvited guests started arriving. Half the local footy team/Holden car club rocked up. What they didn’t eat they threw on the fire; the fat-necked footy yobs began to cart our booze and crates of records out into the boot of their Torana. We watched helplessly, knowing that if any of us tried to intervene they would crush us along with our feeble dream: to party peacefully in a small town shed. We realised the gravity of the situation amidst sobering up and a collective vow to never touch Southern Comfort again. All our beloved rare, weird, noisy, angsty, and emo music was gone –  likely to never be seen or heard again.

The ringleader of the pillaging was the school’s poster-boy for toxic masculinity, a hulking, plunderous sports hero with a taste for bourbon and blood. I mustered enough courage to approach him when we returned to school a few days later. I had the plan to convince this ample-necked thug that my crate of records was what it was: experimental, noisy and distasteful music that only a deviate could endure. Negotiations had barely started before he raised a fist, puffed up his chest and leaned in close, his curled lip stretched into an expression more contorted than Billy Idol’s Whiplash Smile. It had been worth a try, however futile. I resigned myself to the loss of WASP’s The Last Command and attempted to cultivate an air of indifference while screaming on the inside.

A long week passed before the alpha thug pulled me aside. He dragged me out to his car, yanking open the boot. I was expecting to be thrown inside, but to my surprise there was my crate of records. The entire footy team had listened to the haul; they were so disappointed with my records they decided not to waste their time and energy destroying them. They were returning them to me –  along with a warning that I needed to reevaluate my taste in music if I wanted to be a team player in this world.

From that experience I learnt a lesson about significant cultural artifacts and survival. I learnt that if you were into the seedy underworld of culture then people will give you a very wide berth. Like Christoph De Babylon says “If You're Into It, I'm Out of It”. Since then, not only did I maintain my taste in questionable music, I began making it. I now have a beautiful collection of cultural artefacts and sonic abnormalities that repel small town apex predators and brighten the world by bringing together those who don’t feel they fit in – perhaps in a small corrugated iron shed somewhere. Caveat Tumultum is my paean to the eclectic, contradictory and discordant sounds, tastes and sources that have shaped my sonic world, a generative act of return through the melding of sonic and cultural antagonisms. May this album be rejected by small-minded thugs everywhere.