It dates back to ‘95 or thereabouts, this whole sorry mess. A young blonde guitarist captured my attention - not in a sexual sense, mind you - in a local (then) trio called Tweezer in some dimly lit hellhole known as Feedback. Kinda the bastard sons of Slint, Codeine, Shellac and June of 44. He had a Palace Brothers shirt and I wanted it, fuck ya. Matt Grant. He had a style that could put thunder in yer belly one second then soothe the savage beast in ways I’d never thought of playing the guitar.Tweezer released two EPs with a drummer change and a second guitarist augmentation then disbanded (late ‘97?) after recording a few new tracks that were to be never released. The new shit they were playing live was the work of their fuckin’ career too. Oh well. Their sound engineer Steve “Golden Ear” Foster was keen for extra live work and so a friendship was founded with the offer of my own measly drunkard combo. He ended up doin’ our record, funnily enough.
With Matt having time on his hands again he started jamming with Steve on bass and Izza - the drummer for a similarly influenced band we loved called Midget, who were about to split - and did one show under the moniker of Red Setter in early 1998. Then, for a while at least, all was silent.
Another Matt. Surname Blackman. I was writing for a local piece of shit rag doin’ reviews of whatever would come my way. Something promising landed in my pigeon hole sometime in ‘99 but I can’t remember exactly when. I was probably really stoned or somethin’. Anyway, it was an EP by a Newcastle group callin’ themselves Purplene and lo and behold it was recorded by Steve Foster! He’d also recorded albums for Gerling and 2 Litre Dolby by now and was one of Sydney’s favourite live sound engineers. Still is.Purplene were pretty good, but they needed something. They got better and Matt still plays with them to this day, even though he and his brother Jonny (who also did some work with Purplene) made the move to Old Sydney Town sometime 1999. The Blackman brothers started a Sydney based project called High Plains Drifter who did the lo-fi countrified thang but unfortunately never played a show.
Matt and Jonny were aided and abetted in this endeavour by Christo, a recent arrival in Sydney from Melbourne. He’d been doin’ the rounds for a couple of years in a noise guitar band before breaking up and hot-tailing it northwards. Jonny was also playing bass with Matt Grant and Steve Foster - who were still gettin’ ideas together in the winter succeeding Red Setter, and ultimately the five joined forces to become Ukiyo-e. Actually, a few months ago I was in Melbourne one morning, hungover as fuck tryin’ to wolf down breakfast, when a crossword clue beneath my plate took my eye. It said something about ukiyo-e. I think it’s some Japanese art style but forgive my ignorance, I could be wrong. Shit for brains.
They were ready to do their first show on Thursday 25th November 1999. I’ve got the goddamn poster on my bedroom wall ‘cause they were supporting another hotch potch ensemble I was involved in. They blew everyone away. Kinda like Tortoise but more jazzy, a little like Isotope 217 or Ui, similarities to Aerial M and Mogwai too, and a bunch of other bands that I bet you’ve never fuckin’ heard of. Typical. And you say you love me.
They’ve done a slew of awesome gigs this year also. They should get more. Shit, that’s right. The reason I’m telling you all this is because they’ve given me a CDR of four songs they recorded in a ramshackle house on a busy road amongst the junkies in the cesspit that is Surry Hills. Fuck, it’s good. I’m gonna lend it to ya but ya gotta give it back before the weekend, okay? One of the songs will be on a compilation, and two are on their recently released 7”. That means the CD won’t be released in that format.
Ukiyo-E are headin down to Melbourne for some more shows soon, so I was wondering if you would consider meeting me there so we can put an end to this charade. There are problems in this dalliance we have going and we need to address them. Either that or we can get a hotel room. Your call. If your father feels he needs to kill me then so be it. I’d rather die in your arms than live life without you. But he better sleep with one eye open whilst I’m alive.
Forever in undying love