Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cradle/Grave (1997-1999)

Cradle/Grave was a short-lived Wollongong/Canberra studio-project consisting of Matt Aitchison (Kohllapse) and Warren Wheeler. The pair first met in Canberra in the early nineties when Wheeler answered the call for a bassist in death metal band In Tears. Playing only a handful of gigs (including Metal for the Brain III) Wheeler soon returned to Wollongong for personal reasons however the friendship would remain. 

Defying their musical heritage, the pair became increasingly interested in electronic music and with technology becoming more affordable and accessible, the pair turned their hands to a studio-project that would cast off their metal background. Aitchison, meanwhile, would continue his work as drummer/keyboardist in progressive metal band Kohllapse.

Inspired in equal measure by the burgeoning electronica movement, the sample-heavy sounds of the industrial underground and the spiritual nuances of darkwave, the project's first home recordings were released on cassette as the Moths demo and received high-praise in unexpected places. Each of the demo's three tracks were picked up for various compilations in Canada and America: Forensics Lab (Flaming Fish Records), Awaiting the Dawn (Velvet Empire) and Machines in the Garden Part 1 (Blacklight).

Capitalising on this mini-success, the duo set about reworking the demo tracks and writing additional tunes for a full-length album. As a stop-gap however, the pair entered Roundhouse studios with long-time friend Ed Telfer to record 'My Life Is My Infinity' for another Flaming Fish compilation, Lethal Injection. Using a mash-up of movie quotes to explore spirituality and mortality. 'My Life...' was later deconstructed and rebuilt for their debut album.

Securing the services of famed Icelandic-born/Canberra-based producer Geir Brillian Gunnarsson, Cradle/Grave recorded Saper Vedere in a week, with Aitchison and Gunnarsson finalising the mixes in the following weeks. Mixing ambient, trip hop, world beat, darkwave and electronica the album was released on Melbourne's Heartland Records and again received rave reviews, drawing comparisons to Dorobo and Cold Meat Industry artists (such as Shinjuku Thief) as well as more mainstream artists such as Delerium and Enigma.

The tyranny of distance however thwarted the duo's plans to perform live, and Cradle/Grave would soon lose momentum as other life events took precedence.

Aitchison went on to join successful roots/world ensemble Rivertribe, before leaving to form Oka - an even more successful roots/world combination that appeared at numerous festivals across the globe. These days Aitchison records and performs as Favourite Son and manages roots artist Kim Churchill.

Wheeler - always a better observer than performer - forged a side career in music journalism, before working with Jeb Taylor (How Machines Work, High Beam Music) and Simon Dalla Pozza  (Monstrous Blues) in setting up Music Farmers and Trans Electric Records. Deliberately distancing himself from the scene for a few years to establish a career in community services, Wheeler now spends his spare time researching and blogging about the history of the Wollongong music scene.

Discography:
1997: Moths demo (download) (Ballistic Test review)
1999: Saper Vedere (download) (Blatant Propaganda review)

Extras:
'My Life Is My Infinity' original version from the Lethal Injection compilation (download)

Resources:
Automatapedia

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