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Psy-Harmonics

Author: Andrez
Sunday, 1 January 1995
Ollie Olsen has seemingly always been at the forefront of Melbourne's electronic music fraternity. Beginning with seminal musicians Whirlywirld in the 1970s, he was a member of Hugo Klang and Orchestra Of Skin & Bone in the early 80's before graduating with industrial pioneers No and working the pop fringe with Michael Hutchence in Max Q. Hell, the guy even worked as music director on Richard Lowenstein's film 'Dogs In Space'.


But as this decade draws to a close Ollie Olsen is probably best known in his techno incarnation of Third Eye (think of 1993's ground-breaking 'Ancient Future'), he's one of Melbourne's more prolific DJs, and he moonlights as head-honcho of local label Psy-Harmonics.


Ollie kick-started Psy-Harmonics in 1993 with assistance from cohorts Bruce Butler and Andrew Till, setting themselves the goal of creating an outlet for talented young techno producers alongside Ollie's own work as Third Eye. In the four years since that decision was made, Psy-Harmonics has released the debut albums for Zen Paradox, Mystic Force, Krang, the Shaolin Wooden Men, Antediluvian Rocking Horse, LumuKanda and former Goa DJ's Fred Disko and Steve Psyko.


In many ways Psy-Harmonics established the impetus for the recent flourish of local independent labels, especially operating within the Melbourne context. Back in 1994 Ollie told me that part of his intention with Psy-Harmonics was to show that an autonomous and independent techno label could exist, and he was encouraging the rest of us to start up our own labels in order to undermine the majors and release the music we loved. Ollie laughs when I remind him about this. "Well, yeah, I think we did facilitate what was needed in the scene at the time - when we started there weren't really any other outlets. Sometimes it just needs somebody to kick-start things, and now there're so many labels it's fantastic!" A quirky tone enters his voice as he adds: "So, yeah, I think we've fulfilled our obligations there . . .", and again he laughs out loud, no doubt contemplating the debt and despair most local underground labels go through.


Last year saw Psy-Harmonics enter into a new phase. "We left MDS, so we've now gone completely independent," Ollie advises. "It's quite tricky, but a good idea ultimately, so at this stage we haven't got a great deal coming out because of financial restrictions." Here he shrugs. "The next thing we're bringing out is an album by Grey Area, which is this Sydney band who sent me a demo - they really are like their name implies; you can't really categorize their music at all! It's an interesting record and I thought it deserved to be released. After that I should be unleashing my long-overdue no-beats release, which is super-purist electronic music without keyboards and samplers . . ." Ollie chuckles. "It's just frequencies, one of those timeless exercises I could have done 20 years ago or 20 years into the future."


Early on Psy-Harmonics achieved overseas inroads via licensing arrangements with Belgian label Nova Zembla and German label MFS for Zen Paradox, LumuKanda, the Shaolin Wooden Men and Mystic Force. It's a territory they're keen to pursue further and with greater vigour. "We've got a few things happening for us overseas because of the success of our last couple of releases, especially the Psyko-Disko album which has been licensed to Flying Rhino," explains Ollie. "They're also keen to release a compilation for us. Then there's the next Shaolin Wooden Men EP which has been leased to Matsuri."


Third Eye was Ollie's first project after leaving Max Q in 1989, formed initially with Gus Till when they released a cover version of 'The Real Thing' in a what was a pioneering foray into house music and video making. By the time 'Ancient Future' was released four years later, Third Eye was Ollie's solo project and an adventurous one at that. Another Third Eye album called 'The Dance Of Creation' was released in 1995 but furth

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