The Fauves

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Fauves – just take a look at my interview with lead singer Andrew Cox, featured in the current issue of Cordite. I first got into The Fauves as an undergraduate. My friend Dom had bought their first EP, a woeful effort called This Mood Has Passed. At that stage they were struggling to sound like a post-Hunters and Collectors tribute band, complete with acoustic guitars, trumpets and songs about the gold rush. But not enough has been said here. The reason I’m talking about The Fauves is because of two EPs released in 1992, which along with the first two Glide EPs, constitute my favourite early 1990s releases by Australian bands. First off the rank, the brutally titled The Scissors Within heralded a new genre in Australian music, later categorised as art/science rock. Opening tracks “Fracture In the Sky” and “Watching Planets” made telescopes cool again, assisted by some excellent chiming guitars a la Pink Floyd. The production standard on this release was quite exceptional, thanks to Robbie Rowlands, and also included some wicked sound effects work (similar in some ways to contemporaries Ripe). Stand out tracks include the afore-mentioned openers and the should-have-been-a-hit-single “Wilding”. This song took REM’s “Driver 8” and rammed it into the 1990s – it was apparently going to be used for a Phillips TV commercial but that never happened. It did get featured on RooArt’s “Youngblood2” along with most of the other Oz bands I’ve mentioned so far. “Ghosting the Road” (whose title stems, I believe, from a song on Sonic Youth’s Sister – or was it Evol – remember the Lee Ranaldo soundscape/spoken word track?) brings a more sinsiter aspect to the release, but then again, try listening to closer “Hell’s Home Remedy”, complete with sound of band firing a shotgun at one of the songs on the (again) afore-mentioned debut EP. It’s scary stuff – quite metal in fact, and a harbinger of the next EP, released six months later. Apparently The Scissors Within and (get this title) Tight White Ballhugger were meant to be released as an album. I think the jury’s still out on whether this would have been a good move. Considering what would become their first album, the sonically-challenging and over-long Drive Through Charisma, it seems reasonable to assert that if these two EPs had been fused together (they were recorded together in any case), then The Fauves may have had an altogether different career. In any case, “TWB” surpassed “TSW” in terms of musical experimentation, from the opening track – “Misguided Modelling Career”, another SY tribute – right through to the terrifying “Invisible Spiderman”. “Archimedes’ Crown” managed to fuse REM’s “Losing My Religion” and the entire Hunnas back catalogue through its use of a mandolin. I believe this was the last time they ever used a mandolin on a track, none’s the pity. “Sideshow Freak” showcased the band’s darker side, a music hall lurcher featuring some classic lyrics: “twenty towns in forty five days/ slips down a backstreet/ the children behind her all fall down/ the planes of her face like a wounded Picasso.” From memory the EP also featured an unlisted track, basically a demolition of Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone’s a Winner.” Yikes. For me, anyway, no Fauves release since 1992 has matched the out-and-out enthusiasm and daring exhibited on these two EPs. Check em out some time, eh?

Don't be shy: have your say!