PRAISE FOR OUR MUSIC
"If I said there was something of a gobetweensy thing about it I don't mean in any literal way, rather that there just seems to be some sort of unique Queensland feel about it."
Clinton Walker (author and cultural comentator)
Best stuff now a'comin' out of Aussieland."
Dana Bryant (NY Spoken Word artist and singer)
"Embracing, involving, touching - like overhearing someone's confessions. Great work ..."
Des Wade (Singer Songwriter)
"This is languorous, luxurious after-midnight music. The trance-like instrumentals allow the lyrics to unfurl tendrils deep into the oldest parts of the listener's brain. This is mindful music."
Morgana McCleod (author)
"... really an important work. It is hard even on second listen to pick one piece out, it is like a wonderful landscape where one moment must serve another, and it has to be precise even if only a few words or a whack of the brush on the painters tongue - layered wonderfully. ... there is something of the landscape that hints of the terrible pain of Xavier Herbert's 'poor fellow my country'. A stretching of land."
Christopher Barnett (poet)
"It out Rubins Rick in a manner George Martin could only dream of."
Phill Beckett (Singer Songwriter, Musicisan)
"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
PRAISE FOR FLOWERS & THE AXE
[Following their EP Whispering Highway], long term creative duo Geoffrey Datson and Annette Hughes have created yet another masterpiece of modern day Psychedelic Folk and story telling.
Geoffrey Datson with his golden voice, reaches into the part of us that longs for that excitement which came when we were young and we spoke a language that only us and our friends understood. The idiom of a tribe who knows a secret to which the rest of the world is completely oblivious. This is what this record does for me and how it makes me feel.
Imagination, beauty, wonder and poetic eloquence are some of the easy words i can use to describe this Psychedelic Modern Folk creation. But this music deserves much more than that.'Flowers and the Axe' is both delicate and aggressive with a lush and angelic blanket of female voices (provided by Annette Hughes and Megan Bernard), along with the humming, drone of many stringed things which make up the bulk of this sonic landscape. But when the Eastern percussion and Bass punches into our chests and fills the speakers, pulling us into its hypnotic rhythms, we are hooked and entranced and there really isn't any point resisting.
Datson has the voice of majesty. Half lilting sweet-hearted poet and half revolutionary and maniacal orator, he pulls us in with loving and eerie tendrils latching at the parts of our minds which long for escape from this mundane world, sending us back to another time. A time of meditative bliss, of flowers and war, of young hearted freedom and the openness and vastness of the world at our feet. A time where music and mind-experimentation and prophetic vision and wonderlust all intersected and gave us feelings we would always want to feel again. Perhaps a time that never actually existed but was one that all lost souls yearned for, at least for a decade or so. Its all captured here so tenderly.
The beautiful sleeve art says it all really. A serenity in chaos. A peaceful surrender to the lostness and hopelessness of all things.
Produced by Kalju Tonuma, with such a loving hand with acute and laser attention to each crafted moment within the record giving it life and a quality the likes many Contemporary Psych Folk records have never achieved.
I cannot recommend this record highly enough for its absolute uniqueness, its commitment to sonic and poetic beauty. For the way it parades the playfulness of the English language as we listen joyfully to road stories and tales of misadventure. The way it teases and caresses our most vivid imaginations and for the way, as a listener, you are changed once you've heard it, in a way that is impossible to describe. Truly wonderful.
PRAISE FOR PROTEST SINGER
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
PRAISE FOR WHISPERING HIGHWAY
Their latest 5 track EP is a thing of great beauty,shimmering it's way into your brain like a jewel encrusted earwig.
"Mountain music, they used to call it. Made by people who lived up in the hills, in the backwoods; people who often made their own instruments, and certainly made their own rules and their own fun. Datson+Hughes live in the hinterlands behind the Sunshine Coast in south-east Queensland, where it’s a lot more lush than it ever was in the Appalachians, and they make their own brand of mountain music. It is appropriately lush, a blend of everything and nothing they’ve carried with them from the inner-inner-city post-punk art-rock demi-monde plus a few new things they’ve found up in the hills and use in that same DIY spirit, most principally an age- and environment-induced stillness that allows for introspection... Datson+Hughes produce songs ... out of their own harmonic system, beholden only to themselves, reflections on lives well lived, on hurdles and loss and regrets surmounted, that end up in the moment, on the spiritual quest on-going… the climb to the top of the mountain…"
Clinton Walker (author and cultural comentator)
'...playing Datson Hughes' Whispering Highway EP for the third time today. ... It's a blend of all of my favourite Folk/Psych records. P
PRAISE FOR THEN, AND THEN: A MEMOIR
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