Posts Tagged ‘Zak Olsen’

Traffik Island’s Zak Olsen on Public Nuisance – Gotta Survive

Keeping the wheels turning on Hidden Gems and pulling more and more psychic diggers into the fold. This week the honors fall to Zak Olsen, the Aussie indie utilitarian who crops up in quite a few RSTB faves, to be honest. From the fractured pop ooze of Hierophants to the crushing grooves of ORB, Zak has done time in The Bonniwells, The Frowning Clouds, and keeps time in his own solo work as Traffik Island. The latter’s work caught my ear a few years back with a spot-on deep-dive into loner folk, but of late the band has embraced an aesthetic of psychedelic beat driven on an engine of Library Music funk. Zak gives some background on California garage band Public Nuisance and how their Nuggets-era works came into his life. Check out Zak’s take on the band’s works below and head to Flightless for the latest Traffik Island thumper.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

Traffik Island

Even when the first couple of tracks from Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam came filtering out, it seemed like a fever dream timeshift, not to mention a headscratcher for fans of the band’s past output. Zak Olsen’s (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) solo psych dugout always took a different tack than his collaborative endeavors, which ranged from Sabbath fuzz to post-punk. Under the Traffik Island signature he’d largely stuck to the psych-pop formula – laconic strums, wisps of folk, and tape-hiss veneers gave most of his works the feeling of a lost private press reel stuffed in storage and found by rabid collectors on a lucky afternoon. From his split with Sleepyhead through last year’s Flightless debut proper, Nature Strip, the formula seemed set… or at least locked within the same cloud of strange smoke. So, when the follow-up arrived and shucked the whole framework, I was intrigued to say the least.

Zak keeps the psych, and maybe a bit of the pop, but puts the folk away for the moment. At least in any conventional sense he has. The record adopts an electronic haze and a crate digger’s ear for dusty grooves, propulsive beats, and lush atmospheres. Much in the mode of something out of the Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Shadow, or Egon bag, the record repurposes the ideals of Library recordings from the ‘60s and ‘70s and knocks funk, Krautrock, and lounge into a candy-colored vision that swirls with light and sound. While the format might feel like a throwback in more than one way – to both the ‘70s inspirations and the late ‘90s methods of hot-gluing them together – the record is a complete journey that works so well that it, again seems like a private press found in a dorm room dig, just update the time frame about 30 years or so. The best part is that the record works together like a soundtrack to an unseen film – I’d imagine somewhere there’s an animator that needs to get on this. Bright colors only need apply.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Traffik Island – “Ulla Dulla”

The new Traffik Island LP is rolling out shortly and this time around Zak Olsen (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) has moved away from the private press folk that caressed his Flightless debut and into an arena of beat-laden psych-pop. Under the title Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam, it seems almost a given that the album would process Library, folk, and psych nibblets into plastic pop for beat collectors and oddball hoarders alike. The first offerings from the record have a feeling of being children of the big beat era, but without as much bombast – a quieter cool looking towards Shadow and Peanut Butter Wolf doing their crate digging darndest. Despite Flightless’ partnerships in the US (with ATO), this one, much like that indispensable Grace Cummings LP, doesn’t seem to be making its way Stateside. So, for the understandably fraught, you’ll have to head over to the Aussie store and pony up some cash for an import.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Traffik Island – “Charlie Is My Darling”

One of last year’s great surprises was the solo debut from Zak Olsen as Traffik Island. Zak’s been a fixture in Aussie indie for a while popping up in ORB, Frowning Clouds, Thibault and Hierophants before going down the road of psych-pop with a folk heart, dredging up come Syd Barrett, Simon Finn, and Kevin Ayers comparisons with his off-kilter warble. The last album was produced by Library recordings savant Frank Maston, though its Olsen’s new cut that sounds like its got more of Frank’s influence all over it. “Charlie Is My Darling” pulls away from the vocal folk and into an instrumental groove thats’ bright and soaked in sun and breeze. This time around Traffik Island is hinged on Mark Mothersbaugh synth quirk and looping samples, but its still got a timeless quality to it. There’s still a filter of the ‘60s laid over an aughts mentality. Apparently this ties together the past and the future, but that only makes me wonder what the future might bring. The new LP, Peanut Butter Traffik Jam is out February 21st from Flightless.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Hierophants – “Limousine”

Very excited to say that Aussie pop-manglers Hierophants are back on the scene this week. The band, which features members of ORB, Frowning Clouds, Ausmuteants, Parsinp, and School Damage among others returns with their first album in five years and the first track’s a perfect extension of their warble-pop legacy. Among the ranks of the Geelong punk panel Hierophants have always stuck out for their adherence to a slower, slimier, hot-house vision of post-punk. There are no brittle edges in Hierophants world, but the floor gives way without notice and everything seems to be covered in a pungent gel of pop weirdness. “Limousine” is a slow-motion shuffler with an ode to dubious wealth. There’s a feeling of artifice that crumbles under the band’s used-car slink. The track feels as if its constantly slipping away like new money hustlers trying to impress with style over substance, and ultimately lacking either. Gonna want to keep an eye on this one when it comes out May 24th.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Traffik Island

On his solo debut, Zak Olsen (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) casts a subtler shadow than he does with ORB. The record strips away any semblance of the doom-shaking freak fuzz and Sabbath hangovers that have permeated the trio’s work. However, the shaky, whimsical footprint of Syd Barrett remains. In fact, the affectation not only remains, but becomes the guiding light for Nature Strip. The record reclines in pools of purple light, slips through the kaleidoscope’s eye and revels in an impish glee that’s only been hinted at in Olsen’s other projects. Its not just the Madcap magician that makes his stamp (though it is indeed the boldest imprint), this appears to be an album built from the bricks of fragile souls. Its pop as purveyed by Kevin Ayers, Skip Spence, Roky and Twink, and Olsen has lovingly recreated a lush world of bemused wonder that would befit any of them.

As the volume and fuzz have ducked out of view Olsen eagerly replaces them with a palette of mercurial keys and chiming guitars, not to mention a bevy of swooning strings and flutes. The record is pastoral and peaceful, but with a mischievous smile. Olsen feels like he’s having fun playing the part of the damaged artist – indulging every inch of the studio while creating beauty and weirdness in equal measures. This bubbles over a bit with the almost too spot-on Syd dribble “Lazy Cat,” but in most other cases he’s drawn the caricature lysergic psych-folk with a steady hand and pleasingly good-natured wit. There was often a lingering darkness that made the works of the ‘60 acid-damaged set as tragic as they were enjoyable, but Olsen finds a way to imbue the genre with a playfulness that doesn’t end in pain.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

ORB

OK lets get it out of the way quickly, ORB sound a lot like Sabbath. I mean they have the early catalog on full repeat, day and night. They’re feeling the doom of Iomi and the dread of Osbourne in their marrow. But, you know what, screw it, they’re doing it right. If you’re going to go down the Sabbath rabbit hole, you better know how to handle that gas mask groove and you better be able to bring the low end like a boot to the neck. In that respect, this Geelong gaggle are doing doom-psych like it was their birthright. They stretch it out, kick up the maggots below the soil and don’t make this feel like a night at headbanger’s karaoke. They know that the speedier sections of Paranoid were fun, but the times when the band touched on prog, that’s when they were gathering the true clouds of doom. ORB has been behind the wall of sleep and they’ve dug up the bodies buried there.

It doesn’t hurt that Birth comes with a triple (quadruple?) pedigree backing it up. The man behind ORB is Zak Olsen, also of Geelong punks Hierophants and the album was recorded by Aussie heavy Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring), putting his stamp on the sound and shattering the very last bong in your cabinet with van rattling authority. He then kicks it over to King Gizz’ label Flightless on the home turf and completing the circle, its found a home at Castle Face in the US. This thing’s been making eyes at your girlfriend for the last twenty minutes and its moral compass is merely waiting for you to get up for a beer before it slinks in like the creep asleep in the back row of your Trig class. Shit, its a wonder this thing doesn’t come loaded in a shag shrouded package with pop-up quadraphonic. Essentially this album is the living embodiment of the second Bassmobile and that’s alright by me.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments