Composing The Australian Gothic (an update)

oz goth

A short sample from my new composition The Australian Gothic.

Long before the fact of Australia was ever confirmed by explorers and cartographers it had already been imagined as a grotesque space, a land peopled by monsters. The idea of its existence was disputed, was even heretical for a time, and with the advent of the transportation of convicts its darkness seemed confirmed. The Antipodes was a world of reversals, the dark subconscious of Britain. It was, for all intents and purposes, Gothic par excellence, the dungeon of the world.

Gerry Turcote “Australian Gothic”, 1998.

The Australian Gothic: a creative genre emphasising the terrors of isolation in this post-colonial land. The Australian Gothic weaves the threads of our personal and collective subconscious, revealing a tormented communal psyche weighted by dark secrets.

The Gothic novel was born in Europe in the 1800s. The Gothic showed the dark side of eighteenth-century rationality and morality. It threatened its values in the shape of supernatural and natural forces, imaginative excesses and delusions, religious and human evil, social transgression, mental disintegration and spiritual corruption (Botting. 1996. 2). The Gothic novel was transported to Australia where it readily adapted to the sense of dislocation and disorientation felt by many of the first colonialists.

Growing up in a region where artefacts from the pre-colonial era could readily be found under shallow soil, the local layers of history have always sat uncomfortably with me. We live on stolen land, where immoral and bloody actions happened in the recent past. This knowledge adds a sense of weight, of “unbelonging” to our connection to this country. It is part of The Australian Gothic experience.

With this in mind I have been collecting field recordings in our local area for a composition titled The Australian Gothic. It features field recordings, both modified and unmodified, of sounds captured from local farms, the steady expansion of farming land into traditional Aboriginal land being a primary source of frontier conflict during the colonial period. The composition therefore contains sounds of native and introduced species alongside farm equipment being struck in various rhythmic ways.

Listening to the composition I hope that a sense of unease and dread will be provoked through this combination of sounds. My aim is for the listener to be transported into the fabric of Australia’s Gothic experience.

The Australian Gothic will be released through the Unfathomless label in April 2015.


3 thoughts on “Composing The Australian Gothic (an update)

  1. Greetings from Ohio! I first heard your work through RN’s Soundproof podcast. I think this piece and your described intention match up very well. Cannot wait to hear the whole piece. Has it been released already?


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