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Strange Silence

Strange Silence my band in the 80s!

photo Strange SilenceIn 2005 after a tenure of over 10 years with Australian band Real Life recording three albums, a number of memorable tours of the US, Europe and Australia, I and indeed the band as such, called it a day.

Shortly afterwards I began work on my debut album 'Don't Open Till Doomsday' releasing it in 2008, and with this issue Alien Skin was born. But the story goes further back.

Musically, I began writing & performing in the 1970s and mostly confined myself to being a guitarist in Melbourne rock bands. My synthesizer epiphany, in the wee early 80s, grabbed and shook me into passionate submission beginning my henceforth fascination with all things musically electronic. One of the band incarnations I set up was Strange Silence and admittedly I was pretty naive at the time; there was very little in the way of hands-on learning in that nascent period. Many people around me and in the wider music industry at large, were still very much prejudiced in favour of standard guitar rock, in fact there was regular open hostility leveled at what we were doing. Unlike working within electronic music's well trodden safe base today, I pretty much made it up as I went along, often clueless and with synths and other device necessities that just didn't meet my expectations and came nowhere close to producing what I was hearing from the UK & Europe from hero bands like Depeche Mode.

Listen to the song 'Writing from the Top of M Head' Listen to Writing from the Top of My Head (1985)

Strange Silence was a combination of excitement - doing something which was dramatically different to what I had been doing thus far and different to what most other bands in the country where doing - BUT simultaneously frustrating. In pursuit of our uncompromising musical objective, especially mine including 'mortal sins' like no live drummer on stage & minimal guitar (no guitar if I'd had it my way, allowing more space for the synth arrangements), we suffered many doors closing in our faces. Electronic bands at the time were not taken seriously & too often dismissed off-hand. Without elaborating on the specifics, the band ended in 1988 but not without leaving me many enduring memories. I have collected some memorabilia from these years, live videos, recordings and photos. They will remain here publicly in my pre-Alien Skin museum.

photo Strange Silence live 1986Although the band personnel did change, the main performers, aside from myself on all things electronic, were Stephen Beckett on vocals, John Benevoli on guitar and Andy Tosilini on bass. Steve, John and myself shared the songwriting. It is the four of us you will see in the live videos below.

Rough the videos and performances may be, for me they nevertheless are a document of my personal musical development stretching decades; learning my craft all the while from Strange Silence through to Real Life and presently Alien Skin, so I hope they'll be of some interest to fans.

A collection of 18 live videos. First 2 are montage promos...  The player automatically plays all videos from first to last, no need to keep hitting 'play'

The performances shown in these videos were all from 1986, by 1987 Andy (bass) left the band leaving us as a trio with sequenced synthesized bass. Unfortunately I don't have any videos from this period. With a change in personnel we reconstructed all the songs and wrote many more using newly bought samplers. For those of you who are Depeche Mode fans and have seen the movie '101' you will recall Alan Wilder demonstrating his Emax Sampler during sound check at the stadium. We were now armed with 2 of these samplers alongside the remaining synths. Below are some examples of Emax's and harder rhythms being employed.

Listen to the song 'Slowly Down the Drain'Listen to Slowly Down the Drain (1987)

photo Strange Silence live 1986
New Ideal
[below] is another song I wish to draw attention to, written by band mate John Benevoli and produced by me. Listening to it again after all these years I can hear how I was influenced by the Joy Division track 'Atmosphere'. The end is unfortunately lost and I only have these songs on cassette but I think it's a good one to include in the museum.

Listen to the song 'New Ideal'Listen to New Ideal (1987)


left to right: Stephen, George, Andy, John [1985]

left to right: Braedon, John, George, Stephen [1987]

Nuclear War recorded in 1986, is one of our earliest songs with its origin from 1983.

Listen to the song 'Nuclear War'Listen to Nuclear War [1986]

Below is a 1985 review, our very first, in the leading Melbourne street music-press, reviewing a 4 song cassette we submitted. Yes, it was cassettes in those days - and the reviewer got our names wrong! Years later while on tour with Real Life, I met Andrew Watt, the reviewer, in New York City where he now worked. He couldn't remember Strange Silence from 13 years earlier :)

There are many more recorded tracks from the 80s that I've rescued from old cassettes. Time and inspiration permitting, I will make them available as well.