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


  1. Another treasure-- so good. Thank you, sir.

  2. thank you very much.
    John Sangster composed music for Air Program International, an Australian company that made beautiful animated classic stories. Where can I find the soundtracks for those?
    They include:
    Treasure Island, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Mysterious Island, The Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, among others. Most of these share that same music themes, but its very memorable.

  3. I had never heard of those ones - it seems that Sangster did loads of commercial work including countless tv soundtracks. Most of these things never get an official release. A good site to check out is the unbelievably thorough Australian Soundtracks page ( although I just checked it and haven't found those titles you mentioned... which means that they were probably never released at the time. If you ever find them or any other Sangster television soundtracks, let me know!

  4. Rohan are you familiar with a composer name Richard Bowden?
    There is a facebook page where we are having a discussion about this if you'd like to see it.
    Since non of us live in Australia, perhaps you have better access to this music.