Dream Glitch Electronic*
From the most isolated capital city on the planet, Western Australia’s Young Girl stands on the shoulders of Aphex Twin / Squarepusher et al.
Picture an uncanny ability to manufacture primordial chaos and carve out of it a strange, futuristic sense of order. All warmth, depth, edge, musicality and galaxies of hooks. Young Girl comes with a daring hybrid live / electronic set, absolute music and performance rather than a dance set - the kind of set that has people stare, engrossed, or leave the room confused. There’s little in between with Young Girl.
Korg Volca beats (analogue), Korg Monotron space delay (analogue), Korg Kaoscillator, Teenage Engineering pocket operator: Arcade / Office / Sub / Tonic / Rhythm.
Live drums, percussion, guitar, sitar, vocals Korg Micro-X synth.
The Night Mayor is an exhilarating, terrifying fever dream of an album. Liquid, hallucinogenic, complex, ambitious and highly entertaining. The Night Mayor packs a strange emotional punch in its haunting and often beautiful glitchscapes. It’s music that makes perfect sense but has absolutely no right to.
The Night Mayor is a mind moving rapidly back and forth between chaos and order, disintegrating violently and re-integrating in catharsis over and over again. A prescription cocktail (Sertraline, Seroquel, Codeine), ludicrously vivid nightmares (Vomit Nightmares, Toilet Nightmares, Frustration Nightmares), the chaos monsters (The Low Men, The Red Birds, The Black Gulls) and the fear of being caught forever (Sleep Paralysis, wake up wake up wake up wake up...).
The Night Mayor is the follow up to 2019’s A Marshmallow Called Moon (“It’s simply a mind- boggling assortment” - Igloo Mag) - an album that wore it’s influences (Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre) proudly - but The Night Mayor sees Perth’s IDM savant Young Girl pushing outwards to create something that bristles with originality.
Taking clear influences from experimental electronic pioneers Autechre and Aphex Twin, Australia's Young Girl conjures a semi-eponymous surreal dreamscape on The Night Mayor through complex and sometimes baffling music.
The first half of this album is a constantly glitching affair that seems unable to ever sit still or contain its own bulging mass of ideas. Disorientating bleeps and chaotic bursts of percussion accompany wild and playful synths on opening track 'Vomit Nightmares', which feels like a retro computer trying and failing to gain sentience. Even when things get a little more atmospheric on 'The Low Men', with synth pads both warm and unsettling sitting in the mix, the energetic and skittering beats still remain.
'The Red Birds' is a mischievous journey through a psychedelic world of sound, and 'Toilet Nightmares' continues to pack lots into all its gaps despite its slower pulse. 'Codeine' is something of a watershed, stripping things back to a simple, hypnotic loop which gives way to an upbeat guitar passage, acting as a peak amongst the album's valleys of weirdness, and clearing a path for the remaining tracks.
The remainder of The Night Mayor builds from the ground up, the former jittery energy audible only in pockets of echoing vibration, as your brain is softly reset. There are still nervously frayed edges to tracks like 'Frustration Nightmares' and fittingly disturbed undertones to the lulling ambient sounds in closing duo 'Sleep Paralysis' and 'wake up...', but there's an overall sense that some medicated calm has been achieved.
A Marshmallow Called Moon is the new album, mining the sweet natured side of acid and glitch* (you might think of the Richard D James Album) - colourful, spacefaring hooks abound.
The process of writing the album was something akin to painting backwards - start by splattering a huge pile of chaos onto the canvas, then carve out a song like a sculpture.
Marshmallow is the coming together of a sound and a feeling that YG has been working on for three albums now - and this is the joyous culmination.
Young Girl (aka Michael Strong)’s is a story of endless dogged persistence. A prolific musical misfit with an inability to sit still. Hitting music from a thousand different angles for the last 14 years.
It’s loaded with hooks, joy, imagination, sparks and dreams, standing on the shoulders of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher et al. The songs move with a sense of purpose and structure unusual in electronic.
An accomplished (and award winning) songwriter in disparate genres, a working record producer and a live sound engineer, Young Girl comes at electronic music with a pedigree and skill that is truly rare.
YG supported Melbourne’s Broadway Sounds this year with his super intense and confronting live show - incorporating live drums and primal vocals to push the performance well outside of the standard dj booth fare.
Idolising iconoclasts like Prince and Talking Heads, Strong has never fit in, especially in Perth’s notoriously clique-y scene.
The first album in this surprising musical left turn was Amalthea (2016), an RTRfm feature album. His second Neurotica from 2017 was too long, weird, dark and ambitious for most. The upcoming third album A Marshmallow Called Moon, out on vinyl later this year, is the perfecting of a sound and a feeling, everything coming together in a joyful, accessible, pop influenced glitch dream. The first single Heliocentric Cheesecake picked up some handy Triple J play in 2018, a reward for Strong’s relentless work ethic.
“Making sense of sound is one of the most computationally complex tasks we ask our brains to do, because we process information in microseconds,” said Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences in an article for Science Daily from December, 2015. Take this bit of knowledge and apply it to YOUNG GIRL (aka Western Australia-based Michael Strong), and we are gently guided by A Marshmallow Called Moon, a 10-track album for the new Audiobulb offshoot label TruthTable that promises to provide analogue adventures in sound.
A Marshmallow Called Moon discovers hundreds of microsounds in the dream-glitch electronic arena as the artist describes—and we wholeheartedly agree. Each piece on this new album offers delicate (and sometimes rugged) abstract IDM foundations such as the bouncy “Coconut Neutrino Balls” where emotive blips and bleeps meander with touching melodic sprinkles from start to end. Elsewhere you’ll find digital signals crossing each other on “Heliocentric Cheesecake”—a fragmented bleep manifest—to more laidback numbers such as the short-running “Sorbet Entanglement” that flickers its delicate notes just inches above terra firma. Moving through calm sonic bits, bytes, and bells, “Caramebula” grips the senses with a nostalgic flare not unlike artists like Plod and Plone once executed gracefully during IDM’s early years. Tranquilized ambient moments drift on “Blackholes & Honey,” an utterly serene audio landscape. The title-track delivers light mechanical beats that eventually expand and contract as a plethora of rhythmic notes shuffle about in the background. It’s simply a mind-boggling assortment that blends improvised ambient-electronic arrangements with a glitched-out heartbeat.
Overall, A Marshmallow Called Moon dips into the tiniest sounds, exploring the unique intersection between experimental and minimal analogue electronic music—taking seemingly complex arrangements and presenting them in a lighthearted collection.
Feb 17, 2019
In anticipation of Young Girl's forthcoming album A Marshmallow Called Moon, here's a nice in-depth interview with the man behind the alias.
I have literally zero complaints man, the record’s looking good, people seem keen. I’ve shed a whole host of shitty, stunted ideologies in the last 10 months or so and pulled myself out of the land of Cain and everything is supercharged with meaning now and people are looking at me different. So a great time to put out a new record I’d say! Especially one with a particularly silly naming convention like A Marshmallow Called Moon.
I met David (Newman - Audiobulb) on an archaic IDM email list that’s still shockingly active. Anyways, he was keen after hearing the record, so that’s that. I’m real excited about being on a niche label, especially one from the exact right part of the world. Kind of makes me feel like a real person, if you know what I mean. I’m thinking TT might know people that actually like this kind of music, which is a pretty solid tactic I reckon. More solid than doing… Perth haha. Nah, I jest, I jest. I love Perth.
It’s been real good man, I’m pretty damn grateful about the whole thing. It’s nothing to take for granted that there’s a whole person that wants to help facilitate sharing your actual bones and veins with people. Usually I put my bones and veins out by myself and they sink into obscurity rather quickly. TT are on it I think, proactive, great branding. I love the other artists on the roster. The record that’s coming out after mine, the Talipes Vulgas one, is fucking mind blowing. And Aleksandr Tresorg is great too. Those Russians man, I don’t know what it is…. Solzhenitsyn, Dostoevsky, Nabokov. Poets and mystics and geniuses.
I think that’s a question that’s still on the table - excuse the pun, jesus. I’m only the second release on the label, as far I’m concerned TT still has to prove itself. That’s what makes it so damn exciting. And I’m certain that the label will stand out, the quality of the two records come out either side of mine is really something else.
As for the analogue thing, I actually don’t think it matters either way - it’s just that you need something that feels meaningful to you, and there’s something about the inherent limitations in analogue that helps to facilitate that. I think that’s the hook that makes it meaningful to David at TT, which makes him a better label head. My setup is hybrid - really, the important thing for me was that all I used was a small selection of hardware toys, some digital, some analogue. That limitation really sparked me up. I mean, once I plug the thing into the damn preamp, I don’t really care if it starts with electricity or numbers, as long as I get to play it like an instrument and it sounds cool to me. And then I can bury my head in Pro Tools and edit like a ninja forever. Kind of sacrilegious using PT for electronic production I think. Don’t worry, I use Ableton for the live set obviously (you’d have to be a damn madman to use Pro Tools in your live set! Flirting with disaster every moment).
It’s a real light hearted affair, the playful, poppy area of that IDM and glitch. It’s a pop album essentially, albeit one without any vocals. Don’t ask me about the title man - the luxury of having no lyrics is that you name your tracks and album whatever the fuck you want to - and evidently I wanted to splice together food items and astronomical bodies. The weird thing is, it all feels perfect to me, like the silliness of it is kind of transcended by the feeling in the music, in a way. Kind of like the way that happens when a band with a silly gimmick and lyrical style behind it (I’m thinking of Gwar or The Presidents of the USA) put out a great album, the deep absurdity of the lyrics ends up weirdly transcended, it comes out profound and dark and deeply affecting. I’m getting that sense with this record, not that I’d like to claim any level of greatness or anything like that you understand - more that people seem to just understand the feeling of the track titles as soon as they hear the music, even though on paper that actually makes no sense. People love the album title, and so do I. It’s almost mythology, it came from somewhere below consciousness. Or maybe more like Freud haha. Now there’s a question - what are the Freudian significances of these track titles? What does Heliocentric Cheesecake say about my relationship with my mum? Is she the sun, or the cheesecake? I’ll have to ask her.
In my head, it was going to be an EP, kind of a non-serious stop gap while my juices re-filled after the two albums before. But the title track just poured out of me and I knew very quickly that this was going to be an album. Once I decide that, that’s the story - I keep working on it until it’s a finished album. I don’t change my mind - I think Michael Jordan used to say that, he’d make up his mind and never think about it again. That’s the way I am with making records. Not with anything else in life, just that. It’s the key to creating, switching off all of the buttons that stop you in your tracks. Which can be tough of course, specially when there’s no guarantee anyone is going to listen to or care about your works. But it’s the doing it that transforms your psyche, everything after that is bonus points.
I was living right on the edge of my capabilities making this record - that place where your nerves are alive and everything has meaning and everything feels numinous. That’s kind of a challenging place to live, but in a sense, it’s the easiest place to work from. There was no question of keeping myself motivated or hitting the wall or anything like that, it pretty much poured out of me. It was a delight start to finish. And I think it sounds like it as well. Actually, it suddenly occurs to me that that’s where the track titles come from - just a sense of delight, the way the stars and the sorbet give you that sense of delight.
All of the various musical malarkies I’m partaking in have a way of feeding into each other in the most unexpected and delightful ways. I’m recording bands, doing some live sound, I’m making solo pop records, playing in bands - it’s all part of this big, slippery, glorious musical splatter graph I’m living in. It keeps me lit up like an ol’ christmas tree. Actually, I think that’s what make Marshmallow stand from the crowd a bit - I’m an old school songwriter, so there’s a certain sense of purpose and structure in what I’m doing that you might accuse (some) electronic music of lacking (a little)…(maybe).
The title track is my fave I think. Mostly because it just surprised me when it happened. I had made two albums previous to this one, back to back, and I had kind of assumed that I would be out of dat juju. But I got bored, I really am not fond of being without a studio project to work on at all times, so I jumped on board and decided to make something really poppy and joyful - the polar opposite of the album before actually, which was oppressively dense and dark. I wasn’t really expecting it to work, and then this track poured out of me. It exceeded what I’d done before by a long way. I did a brutal radio edit just so I could put it out as the single - cut from the album version of more than seven minutes to 2 and a half. Now that’s editing! Lemon Horizon always gives me them tingles too. Bookends.
Well, I’m doing a launch show for this album in Perth in March - me and TT are talking about the next record, which is ready to go whenever we’re ready to put it out - maybe this year as well. I’ve got several other records in various genres either ready to go or deep in production now - and I think I’ll start working on the follow up to the follow up to Marshmallow pretty soon as well. Also, reading and thinking. I’m into CG Jung just now, that’s…. something else man. It’s turning my brain inside out, I love it. Funnily enough, that seems to be the key to being ready to make your next record - being a different enough person to who you were when you did the last one. For example, I was more or less straight up when I did Marshmallow Moon, but the album after that, I was cooked up on Antidepressants, riding dat Z train, the big Z, Captain Zoloft. And because of that, I was able to start work on that pretty much as soon as I finished Moon, because my brain was different enough to what it was before to have something new to say. Structurally different in this instance. And I’m an entirely different person to who I was a year ago, so…
Check our premiere of the title track: Loose Lips