After first opening Wired for Melbourne Sound, a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, curator Beckett Rozentals was accused by a friend of trying to recreate The Monkees.
“I’ve got this band together and they haven’t got any songs,” admits Beckett Rozentals. “But they’ve got an exhibition space and people want to write articles about them.”
The accusation isn’t entirely fair: the six musicians assembled for Batman Park arguably have more talent in any one of their little fingers than all The Monkees combined. Comprising Evelyn Morris (Pikelet), Jess Cornelius (Teeth & Tongue), Thomas Mendelovits (Milk Teddy), Lachlan Denton (The Ocean Party), Alex Badham (Aleks and the Ramps), and solo artist Pascal Barbare, Batman Park is a Melbourne supergroup formed as an artwork.
Over the course of October, the band will meet regularly in the aptly named NGV Australia space, The Studio, to write and record a new EP, to be launched at the opening of Melbourne Now in November. Rozentals had the idea a year ago during a discussion about how to incorporate music into the NGV. “I had an idea that instead of the gallery just playing Australian music, we could look at turning The Studio into a fully-functioning recording studio,” she says. “Of course, if I had have known how much work it takes to build a recording studio... A couple of months ago I didn’t know what a pre-amp was.”
Thankfully, the design and multimedia team at the NGV did. Punters can wander in and out of the studio to watch Batman Park at work, and come November they can buy a limited-edition cassette (that’s right, a tape) featuring their tunes - or a digital download if you don’t have a deck.
Until then, we thought we’d ask the members of Batman Park about their favourite (other) albums recorded here in our fair city.
Dick Diver - Calendar Days
Although it’s hard to know how I will feel about this album in 10 years (being that it only came out this year) Calendar Days has quickly become one of the most indulged records in my collection. It’s an album that for me has all the ingredients that make a classic album, from pop highs like Bondi 98 to one of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs in the form of Amber. This album has it all for me.
Yama Boy - Moon Cycles
Simon Barry DJs as Salmon Barrel, but this is his only release. A pretty unique combo of synth pop, hip-hop and house I guess, with great songs and Simon's beautiful vocal. Came out on the guys from Woollen Kits old label Periodic Collective in 2009. Recorded by Simon in his bedroom at his family home in Ringwood.
KES - The jelly's in the pot
I remember where I was sitting when I first heard it. I was working at a call centre for a fancy pyjama company that sold clothes via catalogue. I was sitting in this little nature strip in the sun during my break with my headphones on. I played half of it before I had to go back inside to keep selling PJs…It sparked something in me... Like a competitiveness but also a permission or space to attempt something that wasn't tough, wasn't cool or trying to be cool. It was just plain beautiful.
KES - Kes Band II
Of course it's really hard to pick favourites, but one of mine would be the instrumental album from Kes Band, called Kes Band II, that came out in 2009. It's got a lot of my favourite musicians on there: Laura Jean, Biddy Connor, Julian Patterson...and Karl Scullin playing these off-kilter-but-perfect guitar parts. I love vocal music, and that's mainly what I listen to, so I was surprised that this got so deep under my skin. But it's got this great balance between summertime feel-good and utterly haunting.
Wired for Melbourne sound will be on display until 27 October 2013 at NGV Studio, located at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, and is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.
For more exhibition details, click here.