A Melbourne Nocturne

by David Colohan




'...summoning beautiful rural visions via lurching synthesizers, harmonium, and choral voices, all peppered by soprano sax licks from guest player Matt Leivers. Not since Popol Vuh’s 1977 score to Werner Herzog’s Herz aus Glas—itself at times a love letter to the rolling Bavarian hills – has rural drone been executed this elegantly.' Tristan Bath, Bandcamp Daily

'David Colohan continues his steady creative flow with ‘A Melbourne Nocturne’, a delicate yet quietly epic piece of work that contains echoes of his previous releases with Raising Holy Sparks, United Bible Studies and Look To The North whilst also staking out new ground and travelling into territory uniquely his own. Available originally as a limited cassette from PSI Lab (now sold out) this release can now be fortunately be found on Colohan’s Bandcamp site and a good thing too; to miss out on something this exploratory, immersive and affecting would be a genuine loss. Recorded between Melbourne, Ballymahon & Southampton, Colohan describes the birth and culmination of the piece as ‘(coming) to light amongst the moongazing crowd that had gathered outside Labour In Vain on Melbourne's Brunswick Street during the lunar eclipse of July 16th, 2000, before finally manifesting itself on the Summer Solstice of June 20th, 2016’. Indeed there are several themes and motifs that run through the collected pieces on this album that speak of something lunar, celestial and perhaps also the tension between gazing at the sky whilst being tethered and earthbound.
'A Melbourne Dreaming' opens the album with a reverberated choir of voices, a stillness and a sense of the sacred that is both arresting and deeply beautiful. This slowly fades into 'Yarra Yarra, River of Mists', a spoken word piece recounting the (psycho)geography of the land framed with atmospheric bursts of Matt Leivers' soprano saxophone and Colohan's drifting, analogue synth. There are elements of Tangerine Dream's 'Phaedra' here, Popol Vuh's 'Aguirre' and Terry Riley's 'A Rainbow Curved In Air'; a cosmiche and intuitive landscape of sound conjured through echoed vocals and vintage electronics. The choral element returns for 'A Circle Of Chalk Surrounds The City', a hum and murmur of voices surrounding the yearning, keening vocal creating a sense of vastness and ancient leylines imbued in the dry earth. Next, 'Moonrise Over Mount Burnett' paints a vivid image of the heat and the haze in the antipodean dusk, swells of synth and drifting saxophone suggestive of the twilit colours and humid air. 'Moon Fades Over Fitzroy' is a polyphony of voices, a psalm to the living, breathing continent whilst 'Fiona Paints The Starlight Dark' is a gorgeous, night sky symphony of melancholy strings, a lament to a memory long gone. A bell signals 'The Last Tram Home' as both organ and modular synth pulse and rattle their way forward, narrating the night-time journey. Peals of saxophone add to the emerging cityscape as the circling electronics suggest motion and travel. 'Shell Middens, Scarred Trees, Fish Traps, Mounds And Quarries' follows, a communal mass of choral parts combining to create something at once both celestial and deeply human, a sense of stretching out for the stars. Exquisitely beautiful, there are hints of Lisa Gerrard to be found here as well as perhaps Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. 'A Circle Of Stars Surrounds St Kilda' swirls in to view on banks of quiet wind and waves of electronica, a gentle sadness pervading. Likewise 'The Fire, Where We Once Lived' breaths an air of solemnity, voices wordlessly calling out into the darkness, pained at times, rapturous at others. Colohan is an expert story teller through sound, this is effectively an instrumental album and yet it feels as if the listener knows exactly the images he is intending to illustrate and the precise mood of the tales he tells. 'Fionnuala Dreams The Desert Closer' buzzes into life, its modular harmonies, swells and rises pulled as much from deep within Colohan's memories and psyche as from his keyboards. Truly affecting, this is music for late at night; the liminal times. The album closes with 'Towards The Southern Aurora', a delicate and breathtaking vocal piece that both haunts and enraptures, speaking to the ghosts of the surrounding landscape. It is a fittingly atmospheric piece to conclude these travels (and there is a sense of having journeyed, this being a record of Colohan's impressions of Australia and the lasting memories impressed upon him by the land).Additionally, should an alternative soundtrack to the heat stricken, strange dreamscape of 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' ever be required, this is it.
‘A Melbourne Nocturne’ then is an album which dares to reach its hand out to the night sky and to feel the awe and dread that this act involves. It also recognises and contains the beauty, transcendence and despair that comes with acknowledging the vastness of the universe around us and translates this into some of the most affecting music you will hear. Seek this recording out; turn your eyes to the sky.' Grey Malkin, The Active Listener

'A fixture in the experimental folk scene for more than a decade now, more recently as a solo artist & as Raising Holy Sparks frontman, also as a member of the long tenured United Bible Studies (which now seems like a super group of sorts) - A Melbourne Nocturne finds Colohan paring down his palette to the bare essentials, turning stark earthy drone folk parallel to Steven R. Smith into hushed ethereal bliss embellished with angelic vocal melodies akin to Fursaxa, set in a new age ambient construct channeling Harold Budd's 'Pavilion of Dreams', amplifying the zoned bygone folk flavor of the last two songs on David Crosby's 'If I Could Only Remember My Name' within the grand celestial influence of Eno's 'Apollo' & bolstered by some fantastic Terry Riley-esque psychedelic minimalism, it's one of those rare listening experiences where as soon as it ends I'm ready to go again.' PSI Lab.

'What is this bewitching composition? Breathtaking and entirely enchanting. The soundtrack for Professor Liedenbrock's decent in Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. The layers of sound so deep and for ever unrivaled in strange new majestic beauty. Stalactites and stalagmites of sonic sharpness described for the ears by a skillful musical narrator. A Melbourne Nocturne is a story for time when the consciousness changes state from engaged and disengaged.
David Colohan burns the sonic torch for forty minutes on this choral/ambient trek. There is a striking vintage feel to A Melbourne Nocturne. When the vocals fade and the synthesizer heats up, you can hear the pioneer sounds of seventies key board arrays. Although David's composition is more ambient and subtle, not over produced as some entities of the past. A Melbourne Nocturne echoes beyond my earlier comparison as soundtrack to Jules' journey. There is struggle to really pin it down to a particular genre. The balance between vocals and electronics is fluid and alive. Just enough of each in a mesmerizing banter between each other. Positive feelings, never haunting or over pressing. A high mark for this feature because starting in a incense filled cathedral balcony, has a ceremonial weight on it's own. The transitions or tracks never feel like changes, more gentle, like rain stopping or fog lifting. The use of saxophone played by Matt Leivers adds depth and tethers the entire composition to the vibrant night. Music to loose your way in. The sides become blurred as the cassette flips countless times. Sure to happen with out a doubt.
PSI LAB has unleashed this in an edition of fifty. Unfortunately they are sold out from the label. Found a copy at Flipped Out Records. Nothing on discogs. These went very fast since they were only released last month. PSI LAB surely has the the right touch, being a label and music writer. David Colohan has massive history as well. You can see and hear at his bandcamp page. Together, label and artist producing fifty tapes did not have a chance to survive being for sale for very long.' Lost In A Sea Of Sound

'This tape was the perfect end of day album, sounding like Zbigniew Preisner stoned out of his mind and hyped up on Popol Vuh albums.' Wasistdas

This recording came to light amongst the moongazing crowd that had gathered outside Labour In Vain on Melbourne's Brunswick Street during the lunar eclipse of July 16th, 2000, before finally manifesting itself on the Summer Solstice of June 20th, 2016. Recordings were made & visions were had in Melbourne, Ballymahon & Southampton.


released June 20, 2016

Kept in the night & by the light of the moon are...

David Colohan * sounds, visions
Matt Leivers * soprano saxophone



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David Colohan Ireland

'An eerie loveliness that should really be soundtracking a Werner Herzog film; indeed Popol Vuh’s work provides a useful reference point for Raising Holy Sparks as, similar to Vuh, the music herein is almost religious in its solemnity and grace.' The Active Listener ... more

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