Primitive Motion’s Playlist Of Duos

“We think duos can conjure magic,” says Brisbane’s Primitive Motion, aka dreamy two-piece Sandra Selig and Leighton Craig. “They converse without talking, aspire toward symmetry or the chaotic, call and respond, push particles through the air and practice an ancient form of telepathy. They can seesaw or be a sonic mobius strip.”

“The playlist we’ve compiled,” the pair continues, “features duos who speak this secret tongue and let their sounds float. There are countless others we could have included – where are Broadcast, Silver Apples, and Suicide you say? – so maybe there can be a volume two.”


‘Ars Nova’

Emerald Web

Emerald Web made soundtracks for planetariums, National Geographic and NASA. What more to say. Just a little: they were cosmic flautists and arpeggiating synth fanciers with their toes dipped deep in the New Age pond. ‘Ars Nova’ actually features guitar and no synth, but no matter, it’s a gem from the prismatic web of dawn. For those of you with a penchant for navigating the slightly perilous seas of New Age private press (one of PM’s guilty pleasures), their cassette with Barry Cleveland Stones of Precious Water is one of the highlights of the Emerald Web catalogue.


‘Dream Song’

Simon Wickham-Smith and Richard Youngs

This song feels like it’s been dormant in my bloodstream for a lifetime, so when I heard it for the first time it had the familiarity of self. When I listen to it I feel like I’m its host. It plays as an endless cycle, a sonic mobius strip turning in upon itself, blissfully dissolving time. Eight minutes that last forever. It’s also as close to a painting as a song can be – deep hues and shadows suggesting form, but never quite figurative. Deeply beautiful song.

Footnote: Simon Wickham-Smith came over for dinner once when he was in Australia. He promised to post me the missing items in my collection from the Simon/Richard catalogue. I thought no more of it, then a couple of months later a large box arrived in the post from the UK with the promised booty therein. Capital fellow!


‘Silent from Above’


Some songs are seasonal affairs. This one is unquestionably a winter song. A cold morning driving to work. Or staring out the window from the kitchen table, morning coffee in hand. The passage of days, the ache and beauty of solitude. Island self. Liz Harris drifts into the last section of the song like a ghostly fog across the landscape, slowly blanketing the song in billowy puffs of reverb and the immersion is complete.


‘Isola Bella’

Andrew Chalk & Tom James Scott

“Several small clouds drifted through the sky. When one of them passed before the moon, the world’s filter changed. First my hands were silver and the ground was black. Then my hands were black and the ground silver. So we switched, as I walked, from negative to positive to negative, as the clouds passed before the moon.” – Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places


‘Le 6 Septembre’

Areski & Brigitte Fontaine

A song that quenches like a long cool draught of water on a summer’s day. Waltzing voices entwined in the perfect fit. This is a song that exemplifies the oneness of two. Elsewhere on the L’Incendie album, A & B pushed further from shore, exploring sounds and form, exchanging call and response vocals and delivering a stunning collection of minimal other-world pop-folk. But it’s the simplicity of this song that is its enduring strength and beauty.


‘Roland Alphonso’

Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell

Duos can conjure magic, pushing particles through the air and conversing without talking, like an ancient form of telepathy. Don and Ed speak the secret tongue, and their El Corazon album is for me one of the ultimate expressions of intuitive conversational duo play. The fact it was recorded so exquisitely is the icing on the cake. Listen to those toms! High-hat in one channel, cymbal rides in the other and Don parps away to Ed on his melodica right down the middle. They are talking to each other and we are in the room! This record goes straight in and stays. A pinnacle.



Deux Filles

The Intrigue. A sun-drenched garden, the south of France, dappled afternoon light plays on the tablecloth. Cut to lone figure on cobbled laneway in the pre-dawn, pale lamp light and sepia tones. Filtered conversations through shuttered windows. There is a cinematic aura that shrouds Deux Filles classic Silence and Wisdom album. Each song a miniature soundtrack to a forgotten movie. It’s a dream zone and mirror world conjured not only by their sounds, but by the beguiling characters they became* to channel this music. Eerie ambience.

Footnote: read more on the tragic story of Claudine Coule and Gemini Forque.


‘White Bull-Terrier’

Vincent Over The Sink

Double albums. Where to start? I’ll choose the early-’90s, when three of my favourites were released: Simon Wickham-Smith & Richard Young’s Lake, Royal Trux’s Twin Infinitives and The Dead C’s Harsh 70s Reality. Cut from different cloth and recorded at disparate points on the globe, I love the thought of these towering exemplars of uncompromising and primitive exploration being recorded in isolation at approximately the same time – and being double LPs!

Where am I going with this? Well, nowhere fast it would seem, but perhaps part way down the path of including VOTS’ unheralded 22 Coloured Bull Terriers in this canon of DIY double classics. Recorded 20 years later in Australia, it’s redolent of the spirit of the aforementioned Mighty Three, which is to say that it sounds quite unlike anything else and was made because the artists needed to make it. Home recorded and made for an audience of two: the band. Beautiful and sad and funny and dark and light. The real thing.


‘Sun Anenome’

The Blithe Sons

Marin Headlands blue sky autumn daydream, sun sparkling Pacific Ocean, bells tolling offshore in a light breeze, waves breaking on the shore. Pathway past deserted bunkers and deeper into the hills. The Blithe Sons walked here, instruments in hand, became the landscape and then recorded it and burnt it onto CD-Rs to be played on kitchen boomboxes in Tampere, Dunedin, and Brisbane. And it was full of light, a fragment of melody blowing through the tall grass, improvised part-songs. They captured space, no grooves here, just outdoor jams adrift like flotsam. Quiet dreaming.

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