Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Peaceful - John Sangster (1980)

This is the sort of music that ideally should be listened to while sitting on a pristine Australian beach with a beer, maybe enjoying a cheeky Winnie blue (or some of Australia's other well-loved herbal produce) while listening to the native birds calling in the coastal scrub. I'm a little surprised, in fact, that Sangster didn't incorporate field recordings of birdsong or other native bioacoustics into this LP as he has with so many of his others. (Especially with titles like 'Reed-warbler Song').

This set is quite consistent in its instrumentation, comprising acoustic guitar, vibes and other melodic percussion instruments, smooth sax and flute. Overall the LP is reminiscent of the quieter sections of Sangster's fantastic Australia And All That Jazz records. The relatively straightforward arrangements and breezy exotica feel also evoke the vibe of John Zorn pieces like The Gift.

This record is an artefact of late 20th century Oz exotica which evolved from an appreciation of Australia as something of a tropical paradise. (See Sangster's own aptly titled Paradise for an excellent example of this cultural phenomenon). And unlike the unobtainable island fantasies of the original American exotica wave of the late fifties, this was a paradise that was easily accessible to any Australian with a bit of time, a serviceable caravan and a desire to seek out their own Antipodean Eden. Sangster clearly loved to view Australia in this way. In a country that is often ashamed of celebrating it's own 'Australianess', Sangster's music stands out as an unabashed statement of what makes it worth celebrating.

Label: Rain-Forest
Released: 1980
Players: Errol Buddle - tenor saxophone
Mal Cunningham - flutes
Terry Walker - acoustic guitar
Tony Ansell - electric piano
John Sangster - vibraphone, marimba and percussion
Ian Bloxsom - percussion