Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ray Off

Writing this the night after a total blessing of a Ray Off performance (at the new None Gallery opening, Shadow Boxing, with constructions by Agent Spree, Iso 12, Racula, Eddi, Rachel Taylor and meself), featuring the nth-times-X line-up we've had over the past year-and-a-half or so (with me, that is, Jim, on cello and Toki and Franco on echo cellos and cellphones) leads me to muse on what the hell is a band, is this in fact a band, where is my band, etc...

I started the Ray Off schmozzle over two years ago as a pressure vent against the then not-jamming Three Forks. At first, I mucked around some on the computer and produced hours of electronic mishmash, which I then mixed onstage with cd-jays and portables and tapes and whatnot while working on that so-special Ray Off "stage presence". It sounded vile - excellent, mission accomplished - and was pretty fun. But it wasn't enough; solo is fine, but not ALL the time. So after Three Forks split others came in: first Jon Chapman otherwise known as Co.,Inc; Mr Rory Storm; and the grouping captured on the out-of-print cdr 'I Am Not In The Racing Sky', with Jon, Katrina Thomson on harp, Pamela Poppins on voice, guitar and keyboard, and myself. "Ray Off" played Melbourne and Sydney, with Eamon Sprod helping out; then throughout the second half of last year a heaping of big-band "compositions" got played with the help of the abovementioned locals, with Ryan Cockburn and the Forks/Sandoz genius of Tim Cornelius added in as well. I think the most we had on stage was 7 - good times, crazy times. But was it really a band yet? Not quite.

UFM 015 Ray Off 'Clean & Dry Area Before Application' CDR

This new record is pretty much a solo record, however. Time constraints on the various players have meant that only a select few can make it to regular jams. And that is what has started to make us a real band over the last couple of months - hanging out, drinking fine alcohols, playing, regularly. So at the moment the group seems to be Katrina, Pamela, Tim and me, and it's us you'll hear (possibly with another newcomer, drummer Lee Noyes) on the next record to be released on the Austro-Japanese imprint Black Petal.

So yeah, as for this disc, I took the oppotunity to try out a few things and so it is a lot more varied than the previous two. A lot of piano playing; some thick music/sound-collaging; some outright pretty stuff. Pamela, Katrina, Jon and Rory all make appearances. If you liked Ghost Wolf... I'm sure you won't be disappointed, but it is quite a different trip. To see if it's for you, why not check out our track 'Middlemarch Hop' on the just-released MYMWLY compilation Sound Surrounds Us 4. I think that one track is my favourite of all the Ray Off stuff thus far.

Locals, look out for us playing next month at Circadian Rhythm and Arc, as well as making a bit of atmospheric whatever for the upcoming Mid-Winter Carnival in the Octagon. As for Toki and Franco... I think this might end up as a different band altogether, if our explorations in pop music are anything to go by... keep ya posted.


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