Back when I was at university, there was a tiny period of the day between thrashing my liver with wheat based beverages and sleeping off the results of the aforementioned self-harm which the faculty called ‘class attendance’. In an arts degree, this period of the day consists of sitting in a darkened room with other people much like in a cinema or on a plane and being bombarded with words and terms you don’t understand for about an hour. One of these terms was the “fetishisation of the past” and a whole two years later, I think that I’ve finally figured this term out by contemplating the analgesic sounds of Buried Feather.
They are a four piece from Melbourne with a love for big pedalboards, conflicting guitar textures and swirling organ sounds, the band billing themselves as ‘psychedelic rock’ without any guilt. Here, I’d normally go on a rant about how ‘psychedelic’ is the new ‘indie’ and is just a blanket term for any and every guitar band in existence these days, but listening to their self titled debut, the grumpy little music critic inside me has nothing to say. Buried Feather are actually a psychedelic rock band! While there are krautrock influences throughout and the fuzzy guitars are A-grade Palm Desert Scene material, you get the feeling that these guys are an old-school psychedelic rock band. A Doors poster is likely tacked up in their rehearsal space without irony, they could very well reckon denim and sideburns are awesome and three out of four band members probably watched Fear and Loathing and thought it was a bit light on the drug use.
Which brings me back to the concept of the “fetishisation of the past”. Media that is vague in it’s appropriation of themes, imagery or sounds from the past are partaking in Marxist fetishism, where these aspects of any work are seen only as a market construct, understood only by its value in relation to other goods. On the other hand, there are a handful of bands who are part of something that goes far beyond a revival, and Buried Feather are definitely one of them. They fetishise the past in a more conventional sense – plucking a sound out of the gauzy past and becoming fervently devoted to its reproduction.
Some would argue that what bands like Buried Feather do is somehow lesser, but these are also likely to be people who think DJ’s aren’t musicians. What sets bands like The Black Angels, Dead Meadow and of course Buried Feather apart is that their music is so utterly complete in its appropriation of the tired sounds of the 60’s. By kneeling so devoutly at the altar of the past, their music goes beyond any mere emulation and the band creates works that are necessarily novel and wholly futuristic. Magnetized and Drowning Man are statements on the duality of artistic timelessness and the transient, short-term nature of commodified music. At once it reminds us that bands like Pink Floyd are considered ‘timeless’, yet by holding a mirror to their sound, we are forced to consider Floyd outside the context of Floyd itself. Weekends on the other hand stimulates our sense of modernity against a backdrop of vinyl-era ambience, almost like Warhol’s multi-coloured Campbell’s Soup cans artistically redefine the familiar commercial product.
Wow, just re-reading that last paragraph gave me a vicious migraine and an arts student hard-on all at once. Anyway, all this criticism, Marxist theory and academic wankery aside, its probably the case that Buried Feather are just making music that sounds amazing because they want to, and not because they want to adopt any deep anarcho-musical artistic statement. I was lucky enough to catch these fellas support The Dolly Rocker Movement a few months back at the wonderful Velvet Cave, and I can happily confirm that these guys are spectacular in a live setting. Check out their bandcamp for a stream of their self titled album and mark down their tour dates below.
15/11/13 – WORMWOOD @ COSMOS ROCK LOUNGE, SYDNEY w/ BUZZ KILL, FASPEEDELAY, SPIRIT VALLEY
16/11/13 – BRIGHTON UP BAR, SYDNEY w/ PSYCLOPS EYEPATCH, SPECIAL GUESTS
22/11/13 – HOWLER, MELBOURNE supporting IMMIGRANT UNION w/ YIS
7/12/13 – ALIA ART HOUSE, MELBOURNE w/ FIRE DOOR BEHAVING AS AIR, RIFF FIST
31/12/13 – HEATHEN SKULLS NYE PARTY @ THE CORNER, MELBOURNE supporting EARTHLESS (USA) & THE SHRINE (USA)
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