It is with that unmistakeable, gut wrenching scream of Rob Younger and its clarion call exhorting us all to play some Stooges that Radio Birdman signals the start of another Wide Open Road, playing the things that connect and link the vast catalogue of Australian independent and alternative rock and pop.

Wide Open Road is the vinyl (and this week, digital) beat in the heart of the alternative jungle. It is with the stuttering, primitive synths, grizzled guitars and clanging drum machines that we venture into the third in our series of shows showcasing the punky edges of the experimental spectrum of the indie scene. On this show we go dabble in some Doublethink, get all Little Band, play some trumpet and land safely at Essendon Airport.

We have talked a lot about the Little Band scene in Melbourne in the early 1980s on these shows, and at the very centre of that scene was the band Primitive Calculators. Formed in 1978 in Springvale near Melbourne, they were described by British critic Everett True as sounding like “a very aggressive Suicide”, the band is known for its mix of harsh guitar noise, fast and repetitive drum machine beats, and abrasive synthesisers. They continue to this day putting out their dark, thrashing loud sounds, which we will feature right at the end of this bracket. But, we start with the beginning of the story with their first single from 1979 “I can’t sop it’, Next stop, we have a 1979 version of the track Pumping Ugly version recorded in a basement in Fitzroy and released on a split single with Death metal band Slug Guts in 2009. Finally, we have a track from their 2013 LP The World is Fucked and the track Sick (which was backed with something slightly more strongly titled!).

I can’t stop it – Primitive Calculators
Pumping Ugly Muscle – Primitive Calculators
Sick – Primitive Calculators

Doublethink was a label run by Roger Grierson of the band the Thought Criminals, later to become a well known manager and touring agent. The manga of Doublethink was to be an outlet for the punk and experimental music that was coming out of Sydney in the early 1980s ad well as being a home for the band itself. We are going to explore three tracks from the band, which highlight both their angular post punk sounds starting with the very first release on the Doublethink label (their name of course is a slight corruption of thought crimes after the practice of speaking and thinking falsehoods in Orwell’s 1984, the documentary of the Trump/Brexit era). We start in 1978 with Hilton Bomber, the first single from the debut single. We move onto a track from their recently reissued debut LP (on Blank Records) called ‘Speed. Madness..Flying Saucers…’ released in 1980 and we go with the track ‘The Orphan’ and finally we come back to the reformation of the band in 2007 and a track from the “ EP Peace Love And Under Surveillance.

Hilton Bomber – The Thought Criminals
The Orphan – The Thought Criminals
Forty Days- The Thought Criminals

For the want of a better connection, I just wanted to play these three tracks, all of which feature trumpet as a central star of their experimental grooves. We start with the band Moral Fibro from 1983 featuring M Squared alum Patrick Gibson and various members of Systematics and Wild West amongst others. This track was only released recently on the compile Oz Waves on the Efficient Sound label. Connected in so many ways to things that have gone before in these three shows (members of Laughing Clowns, gigging with the Thought Criminals, should I go on?), Sydneys The Particles started as a pop band and through embracing tape loops and drum machines got to the point in 1982 and released this three track EP (called I Luv Trumpet) on the Waterfront label. Finally featuring luminary Deborah Conway, the muscular bass of Helen Carter and the more experimental stylings of former Thought Criminal Stephen Phillips and former Bender Dorland Bray (for who you can hear a track on fast Forward 5), we have Do Re Mi and a track from their 1982 debut EP The WaitinG Room and featuring trumpet from Peter Doyle of the Laughing Clowns.

Take a Walk in the Sun – Moral Fibro
The Trumpet Song – The Particles
Disneyland – Do Re Mi

Essendon Airport are a critical watermark in the Australian experimental scene, revered for their influence and their impact on the shape of both the Melbourne and Australian scene. Formed in 1978 by David Chesworth (a legend of the scene himself) and Robert Goodge, this minimalist experimental band riffed of vintage synths, Wurlitzer organs and other broken keyboards released a few singles and one LP in their short life, but their influence lives on in dozens of bands. We start with their second single, Talking to Cleopatra featuring the vocals of Ann Cessna (work that joke out peeps). We move onto a track from the Chesworth solo LP, 50 Synthesiser Greats and Have Beat…will Travel (which has recently been re-released on Bandcamp if you want to get a copy of it). We move to an experimental supergroup of tape manipulators, sound artists and members of Essendon Airport from the Fast Forward Number 6 cassette and a spoken work drone piece put together by the puntacluar David Chesword. Finally, we bring it back to Melbourne and the wonderfully trippy Underground Lovers off their 1994 LP Dream it Down and the track Las Vegas, featuring the piano of David Chesworth as well being one of the producers with his Essendon Airport compadre Robert Goodge.

Talking to Cleopatra – Essendon Airport
Have Beat…will Travel – David Chesworth
Clifton Hill Music Centre Story – David Chesword
Las Vegas – Underground Lovers