"the thinking person's hillbilly music on self made stringed instruments with beautiful harmonies".
Daniel Morphett, El Duende 2011
"superb-dulcimers, hand made guitars, brilliant lyrical work, hillbilly feels for want of a better description. Stunning and can;t wait to visit you guys in the hinterland!
Dale Caldwell 2011
"An eccentric pair of old hippies playing home made instruments, and you know, they weren't bad!
Cooran 'fan' 2011
"I was amazed at the recitation and songs and you and Annette playing your hand-made instruments: it had that sense of time stopping, or maybe of another place where time runs at a more stately pace: and the whole room becomes a sounding board, resonating with the word."
Dan McAloon 2011
"The duo is coming together nicely, isn't it? ... Was listening to Then, and Then the other day and it occurred to me your writing style is sometimes a series of haikus rather than linear storytelling."
Des Wade (Singer Songwriter, Adelaide) 2011
"Then, and Then is like field recordings from The Twilight Zone. If Alan Lomax took his Nagra to Alpha Centuri and pointed it back this is what he would hear; snatches of electronica colliding with folk music, pop melodies and Celtic droning dulcimer crashing against lines tinkled on a Casio. Floating on top of this strange brew are snatches of poetry. ... It will adjust your set."
Toby Creswell 2010
THEN, AND THEN
Review by Toby Creswell
Then, and Then is like field recordings from The Twilight Zone. If Alan Lomax took his Nagra to Alpha Centuri and pointed it back this is what he would hear; snatches of electronica colliding with folk music, pop melodies and Celtic droning dulcimer crashing against lines tinkled on a Casio. Floating on top of this strange brew are snatches of poetry.
Geoffrey Datson has had a diverse recording career to this point from the straight up pop rock of the Surfside 6 to the post-punk of Belle du Soir who recorded for the legendary MSquared label. In the mid 1980s he formed Samurai Trash whose Afrobeatish sides released by Virgin were widely acclaimed. Since then he has toiled in the basement and traveled widely, recording an eclectic range of projects, most recently as producer and musician on a powerful CD of poetry from Moshen, an Iranian refugee interred in Villawood.
Then, and Then is a record of Datson’s peripatetic travels in time and space from adolescence on a farm in Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast to Sydney and then around the world back to Sydney and finally back to Cooroy. It’s an album that starts with teenage dreams of Patti Smith and the symbolist poets and Neil Young and winds up back on the land. As a teenager he’s full of ideas and adventures. By the end of the journey, he’s coming to understand the acceptance of country that his father had. “Homeland Borderland Wasteland” is the most obviously political, while “Pied Plucker of Cooroy” the most whimsical.
This is not a linear narrative by any means. There’s snatches of ideas, nightmares and reminiscences and quotation; dreams and events. The music also has its own narrative that signposts Datson’s journey; songs like “Woodcut” sound like the Velvet Underground jamming with the Incredible String Band. There are other familiar sounds here too; Suicide, early Human League, the Grateful Dead, Arabic drones and plainsong. Sometimes all in the same song.
The album comes with a beautifully packaged book of poetry. The words on the page are satisfying enough, unlike most rock lyrics, but benefit from accompaniment. Given the breadth and diversity on these tracks, it’s amazing that it holds together but it somehow does. The doom-laden clouds part into delicate pop melodies. Like any collection of poetry, you can dip in and out, but listening to the story unfold is the way to do it. This is definitely not, as they might say in Star Trek, rock & roll as we know it. It will adjust your set.
Toby Creswell 2010
JUICE July 2002
In a world where every corner has been explored, globalised and fucked up, , the internet remains the last wilderness, a wild place where the frontier is getting further away from us rather than closer. And its on the internet that today's folk scene is thriving. Not the "folk" of traditional instruments and styles, but instead in the sense of home-made, uncompromising and free from commercial ambition.
In this way, Geoffrey Datson is a folk singer. Datson has done his time in the conventional recording industry with the Surf Side 6 and Samurai Trash. He's now concentrating on music distributed via the web and his legendary warehouse parties.
After the industrial grooves of last year's Star of Heart, the more accoustic based Protest Singer is a departure; it's stripped down immediacy and socially concerned lyrics apparently a reaction to the Howard government's brutal treatment of refugees. The latter are not addressed directly, but form the inspiration behind songs like "Planet" and "Back up the Car".
While acoustic instruments are prominent, Datson is more than a singer-songwriter with a battered six-string. "Co-deependent Cowboy" makes constant and amusing use of samples which are almost as funny as the lyrics. "Ruin House" and "Spawn" are still raw, but musically closer to Brian Eno or Kraftwerk than Billy Brag. Pushing the envelope further, a mesmerising secret track is built around samples of Winston Churchill's war speeches, with telling implications for our times.
Datson makes music with all the rough edges left in, the emphasis on inspiration and to hell with the rules. In other words, music as music was originally dreamed of.
David Messer rated 8
HQ Magazine June 2002
"Playing with old styles is a self-titled album from Protest Singer (Stickylabel). Mostly just recorded with voice and guitar, the album in part harks back to something Alan Lomax might have captured and elsewhere toys with beats or recalls the deadpan experiments of the Velvet Underground. The lyrics generally protest the state of the world; "Y2K Buggin'" is a litany of global irritations from Milosevic to big hair. On "Ruin House" political theory crashes against the
personal and the poetic. Throughout the eight tracks there's a harking back to Biblical language and the mythology of the ancient world juxtaposed with crappy cars and the detritus of the inner city life. Protest Singer doesn't have pat answers or prescriptions but draws connections through the ages to man's inhumanity."
Toby Creswell 2002