Ten sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance were added to Sounds of Australia for 2015.
Established in 2007, the Sounds of Australia is the NFSA’s selection of sound recordings which inform or reflect life in Australia. Each year, the Australian public nominates new sounds to be added with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts.
See the Complete Sounds of Australia list.
Adelaide-born Carmelo Bianchetti, AKA djhmc (House Master Cam), carved out an international reputation for his seminal techno releases during the 1990s, such as ‘Phreakin’, ‘LSD’ and ‘6AM’ – leading to him being dubbed Australia’s Godfather of Techno. Releasing tracks on local Adelaide techno labels Juice Records and Dirty House Records, his career helped showcase the Adelaide scene and took it overseas, through his performing at clubs like E-Werk (Berlin) and festivals like Mayday and Trans Musicales. During the 2000s Bianchetti took on another persona, Late Nite Tuff Guy (LNTG), through which he has become renowned for reworking vintage disco and soul tunes.
The Fairlight CMI was the world’s first polyphonic digital sampling synthesizer, invented in 1979 by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, based on a dual-6800 microprocessor created by Tony Furse in Sydney. The Fairlight grew to become one of the most widely-used synthesizers in music, being used by musicians from Kate Bush to Brian Eno, and film and television composers such as Peter Best.
The four sounds featured in this clip, with examples of 1980s hits in which they were used, are:
Adelaide hip-hop artists Hilltop Hoods first gained widespread attention with this track in 2003, which propelled the album The Calling to become the first Australian hip-hip CD to be awarded Platinum. The song was listed 9th on triple j’s Hottest 100 for 2003, and 17th in the Hottest 100 of all time (2009) – the highest-placed Australian song. The trio’s subsequent three albums reached the top of the ARIA charts, cementing the band as a major and ongoing force in the Australian music scene.
Rock singer-songwriter Deborah Conway was a founding member of Do-Re-Mi before launching a successful solo career, winning the 1992 ARIA for Best Female Artist, and organising the Broad Festivals (2005 to 2008) showcasing contemporary Australian female artists. This track from the 1993 album Bitch Epic was written by Conway and her partner and collaborator William (Willy) Zygier. The lyrics are intensely personal but are delivered in a manner that, as Conway once stated, provide complete transparency between the singer, the audience, the song and the sentiment. This ability to create hits that also challenge people’s preconceptions of pop music is representative of Conway’s ongoing success in balancing her artistic values with the commercial realities of her industry. In 2013 Conway and Zygier released their 10th studio album together, Stories of Ghosts, on their own Another Intercorps label.
Mushroom Records D11563
This is the only known audio recording that contains the voice of an Australian soldier on his way to fight in the First World War. It features the voice of Lance Corporal (later Second Lieutenant) Henry Miller Lanser, 1 Infantry Battalion, who embarked from Sydney on 18 October 1914. Lanser had been a mechanic in civilian life and it may have been his interest in mechanical devices that led him to make this recording. Lanser completed his training in Egypt and went on to the Western Front. He was killed in action on 5 November 1916 in France, aged 26.
This iconic protest song written by John Schumann was released as a single in March 1983, hitting number one on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart. The song presents a soldier’s experience of war and reflects on Australia’s attitude to involvement in the Vietnam conflict. The song helped Australians to better appreciate the plight of soldiers that returned from the conflict and its lyrics were inscribed on the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in 1992. In 2001 APRA listed this song as one of the top 30 Australian songs of all time.
The Argonauts Club was first broadcast on Melbourne ABC Radio in Melbourne, from 1933-34. It was revived as a segment of the ABC’s national radio program The Children’s Session in 1941. By 1950 the Argonauts Club had over 50,000 members who were encouraged to submit contributions of writing, music, poetry and art. The Argonauts segment had its own song, ‘Argonauts Row’, written by Elizabeth Osbourne and Cecil Fraser and performed by leading Australian baritone Harold Williams with the male voices of the ABC Wireless Singers. Williams’ association with the club continued over 20 years, through his weekly humorous pieces during the show.
The Children’s Session was devised by Nina Murdoch with Elizabeth Osbourne as the first presenter. Renamed The Children’s Hour in 1954, it became one of the ABC’s most popular programs, running six days a week for 28 years (from 1941-69), until it ceased in 1972. Unfortunately almost no audio survives of the thousands of one-hour programs.
These rare examples of Aboriginal songs were recorded by John Hutchinson, one of Australia's foremost field recordists, in 1959 along the north-west coastline of Australia. The recordings are an amazing snapshot of Aboriginal life in that period and range from traditional songs to newer compositions that reflect the changing dynamics of Aboriginal society through contact periods. Their significance not only lies in forging greater understanding of Indigenous Australia and its place within Australia’s history but contributes to cultural maintenance and resurgence for many Aboriginal communities in ensuring that their language songs and stories can continue to be passed on. Hutchinson died this year and the NFSA will build on his legacy by continuing to facilitate the return of these recordings to the Aboriginal communities from where the songs originated and celebrating the significance of the recordings to all.
This track is:
New Wave Sydney band Hoodoo Gurus combined Australian garage rock with ‘60s American hooks to create this classic track. The song was originally slated to be a single B-side before producer Charles Fisher noticed that it 'had something’. Writer Dave Faulkner is said to have been surprised with the success of the song – stating that he just liked it because it was noisy.
This track, their biggest hit of the time, demonstrates the band’s wide appeal that saw them achieve Australian and international success, particularly on the US college rock circuit. The band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007.
Big Time Phonographic Recording Company BTS1588
In 1921, performing for the theatrical organisation JC Williamson’s, Gladys Moncrieff played the role of Teresa in The Maid of the Mountains, a role that established her as a major star – she subsequently performed the role some 2800 times.
This recording from The Maid of the Mountains demonstrates Moncrieff’s powerful range, rich soprano and excellent diction that earned her a large following both in Australia and around the world.
Gladys Moncrieff was one of the great stars of the Australian musical stage for more than 35 years – described by many as Australia’s Queen of Song, or simply Our Glad.