The Null Device

Sticky Carpet

I just watched Sticky Carpet, a recent (2006) documentary on the Melbourne music scene. It was quite interesting, interviewing musicians and scene figures about various aspects of it, such as the interplay between the mainstream and the alternative (most of them were very anti-mainstream), art and commercialism (the consensus was that when money becomes a consideration, the range of allowable creative decisions narrows severely), Melbourne's profusion of band venues and community radio stations, and even the theory that Melbourne's preeminence in the Australian music scene has to do with the cold winter days encouraging musicians to go indoors and rehearse.

Sticky Carpet's main flaw was its fairly heavy rockist bias, though, which it didn't seem to question. The majority of the music presented in it was either primal 3-chord blues-rock or heavier versions of such (metal, hardcore, punk). The concession to non-rock music consisted of extreme experimental music (a metalworker who makes his own instruments, a bloke playing a theremin and breaking sheets of glass over his head, atonal "sound art" with laser displays). In short, trading one form of machismo (that of primal rock) for another (that of strenuous experimentalism). This ignored a lot of other (usually less testosterone-charged) genres of music just as prevalent in Melbourne: virtually the entire spectrum of indie-pop was omitted (this was a world where the Lucksmiths, Chapter Music, Library Records and such never existed, it seems), or indeed the Country'n'Preston scene, or local hip-hop or electronica, and so on. (This was, in a sense, the opposite of a documentary on the Melbourne indie scene aired the Swedish TV programme Musikbyrån last year, which focussed on Architecture In Helsinki, New Buffalo, The Avalanches and Cut Copy, and didn't show anyone wielding a guitar; if one were to view both side by side, there would be little evidence of them referring to the same city.)

I was surprised to find that the frontman of Eddy Current Suppression Ring wasn't wearing a blue singlet or sporting a rat's tail mullet. I sort of placed them as part of a Bodgie revival.

Another interesting thing that was said in the documentary: Tony Biggs (who presents the talk-radio segment on 3RRR) made the claim that the fact that 99% of commercial music consists of love songs might contribute to depression and mental illness, as such songs instill unreasonably optimistic expectations in listeners.

There are 6 comments on "Sticky Carpet":

Posted by: datakid Tue Apr 10 02:40:57 2007

Did you ever watch the DVD I sent called...Pixel Pirates 2, I think?

Posted by: acb Tue Apr 10 16:50:57 2007

Not yet; I only got a DVD player last week.

Posted by: datakid Tue Apr 10 22:06:04 2007

Of course, apple's borked dvd regionality!. :)

Posted by: Greg Thu Apr 12 05:26:05 2007

The movie received some criticism in Melbourne of the form "why didn't they include [band]?", and to be fair, it does concentrate on one or two genres / scenes. The producers and friends have replied: "anyone can make a movie about their own favourite bands, and in fact, we encourage you to", which is also fair.

What struck me in your critique was the idea that "primal rock" and "strenuous experimental" genres, while apparently dissimilar, in fact have in common a kind of machismo.

I have a pet peeve about live music / bands / venues which might fall into the same category. This is the idea that anything more punter-friendly than disorganized shows with midnight starts, no pre-arranged running order, and a bad mix at ear-damaging volume, is effete. When this meme is prevalent, any comment about the grim boot-camp that is much live music is dismissed as a sign of weakness in the complainer. Audiences learn to simply vote with their feet. I worry that we who are left in the room run the risk of becoming a

Posted by: Greg Thu Apr 12 05:36:30 2007

... scene who play only to each other. Hello, day job.

Posted by: steve Fri Apr 13 21:32:12 2007

I haven't seen this film. I saw the list of bands involved and didn't bother. "The scene that celebrates itself." Boring...

Biggsy might be onto something there...

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