The Null Device

The Paradise Motel 2.0?

I recently heard from a reliable source that Australian 1990s band The Paradise Motel has reformed. Well, not in its entirety; the lineup apparently includes Charles Bickford and BJ Austin, with a new rhythm section and Merida Sussex emailing in her vocals from abroad, and they're several tracks into recording a new album.

The Paradise Motel were, IMHO, one of the great underrated Australian bands of the 1990s; they made noirish pieces like something out of a David Lynch nightmare, with beautifully melancholy vocals, cinematic string arrangements (by Matt Aulich, who was, in all probability, a fan of Angelo Badalamenti), and sudden violent explosions of fierce intensity, when the mainstream market wanted (and the major label they got signed to specialised in) 3-chord grunge-rock. Most of their members came from Tasmania (with the exception of Merida, who was born in England and was discovered whilst working at the St Kilda public library), and brought the desolation, distance and dark, troubled undercurrents of this into their music. In an alternate universe, where they were signed by, say, 4AD, they could perhaps have fared a lot better. Unfortunately, their label was part of the Mushroom empire, then heavily invested into facile, populist JJJ alternative-rock, and didn't really know what to do with them. They released a few EPs (the starkly lovely Left Over Life To Kill and the atmospheric and somewhat experimental remix EP Some Deaths Take Forever), an album (Bad Light), and a few more EPs, before moving to England. Then they released a second album, which was more of a driving rock affair, and, around 2000, disbanded.

Anyway, it will be interesting to hear what their new sound is like; the chiaroscuro of "the violence and the silence" of Bad Light, the sparse atmospheres of the early EPs, the more conventional rock of Flight Paths, or something else altogether?

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