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High Pass Filter

Author: Andrez
Sunday, 1 January 1995
High Pass Filter are a dub-influenced outfit who are increasingly falling under the spell of electronica, and yet their soundscape is as appealing to a pub rock crowd as it is to a club's dancefloor groove. With an impressive bout of live gigs under their belt, the group has inhabited the studio of late and the fruits of this labour are now coming into circulation.

High Pass Filter are an anachronism amidst their electro-influenced peers here in Melbourne in that there are several members dividing up the playing chores across a broad spectrum of devices rather than just one or two expert knob twiddlers on a sampler and a couple of machines. Their retinue includes Brian May, Larry De Zoete, Kelly Ryall, Ben Green, Anthony Paine, James Wilkinson and Paul Scott performing on anything from guitar and drums to analogue synth and turntable, and even a trombone, and then putting all the elements into the mix.

The guys have made impressive inroads on the live circuit since they formed in 1995, along the way supporting the Beastie Boys, African Headcharge, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Fun-da-mental on their Australian tours and headlining at one of the Technofest festivals.

How the guys got together is a story unto itself. "I get esoteric here or create a good story to reinvent the actual truth," Brian quips. "But in actuality I really wanted to experience live dub music and there isn't any in Melbourne - so the best way to solve such a problem is to start doing it yourself. Over nearly two years it's grown into six people."

Those six people have their work cut out for them with a release and national tour in coming weeks. "We're releasing a mini-album later this year, probably around November, on both vinyl and CD," advises Brian. "It's called 'Audio Forensic', which is in fact the title of one of the tracks." Meaning- "I don't know - it's a nice name and it neatly describes one of the things we're about . . ."

It's their first complete studio offering after the release of a vinyl EP and a track that appears on the new Angel's Trumpet compilation called 'Fathom: Antipodean Beats', and the process was an interesting one for a group more familiar with the live music ethic. "We locked ourselves away in a basement and built the studio down there within a week. We recorded it there and did it our own way, but for various reasons didn't get around to mix it until July." Brian shrugs. "Then we took in lots of extra gear including boxes of weird units and single-processing things piled on top of other boxes and milkcrates, as well as a huge mixing disks with cables and hands everywhere. We spent a week mixing it all up and then, minimally, just a day-and-a-half mastering the whole thing! When people sit down to listen to our music they should note that there's absolutely no automation in any of it - all the mixing was done hands-on."

So how has High Pass Filter's sound shaped up in 1997- "Well, when we first started we came from dub - but for me dub isn't some kind of reggae deal with a sax flying about; it's more an intention of playing around with sound and doing it in a spacious way. So you get more into an abstract territory where there's more feeling than somebody saying 'hey, hey, hey I've just lost my girlfriend and everything's really fucked'. The removal of vocals means that music is a lot more able to convey an emotion because you do it through sounds rather than relying on words. It leaves it more of it open to interpretation."

On the side Brian has also been running his own radio show called 'Into The Groovy' on Melbourne station PBS FM for the past seven years. Obviously this outlet has been an inspiration in terms of his own music. "Definitely," he agrees. "You know all too well about the hunger you develop in terms of new music and getting to the boundaries that are out there. Especially over the last couple of years I've really been enjoying listening to the fucked-up but groovy electronic stuff<

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