Artists + ShopAll online purchases are made through CCNOW
Jim Moginie Alas Folkloric
Alas Folkloric + Fuzzface EP
There are a no hard copies of Alas Folkloric left in the warehouse.
You can download it from bandcamp
1. This is not a folk record – although it does contribute significantly
to the oral tradition of a group of people.
2. Neither is it a lament – although a beloved icon of Australian
folklore has, alas, shuffled off this mortal coil.
"I don't lament the passing of Midnight Oil," Jim Moginie says for the record. "We did what we had to do and moved on. We had 25 years, we got out in reasonably good shape and we maintained our creativity and integrity through all of it. It was almost the perfect trajectory a band could have."
Since the Oils' retirement of late '02, their co-founder, guitarist, keyboard player and songwriter has been, in his unassuming words, "pretty busy". Check the fine print on albums by the Sleepy Jackson, Neil Finn, Silverchair, End of Fashion, Sarah Blasko, David Bridie and Kasey Chambers for starters.
If, like him, you're more interested in exploring new horizons than polishing old war medals, Alas Folkloric is a revelation unto itself.
It's an album of discovery, both in its wide spectrum of moods, textures and melodies, and in the union of broadly political and intensely personal themes that only come with knowing your place in the world.
"It probably sounds a bit like a disaffected '70s leftie really," is the way Jim puts it. "There's been a certain amount of idealism lost to economical gobbledygook, weasel words and spin, but I guess a lot of my preoccupations have continued into this record. Maybe in a quieter way."
Well, sometimes. No Oils fan could fail to connect with the crashing electric propulsion and contained rage of "Around the World" – yes, that is Rob Hirst thrashing the drumkit, and Martin Rotsey applying the familiar guitar tension that launched a thousand riffs.
There are familiar rings, too, in the euphoric finale of "Outer Space" (Hirst again); and in the bittersweet Australian pride at the heart of "Halfway Home", an acoustic road song for a compromised country co-written and played with Something For Kate's Paul Dempsey.
The ethereal "Hey Little Dove" is one of a raft of songs that belong to "a lost rock opera" Jim started a decade ago. "The Oils played around with 'Stand Your Ground' too, but as a band we could never quite get our heads around it. I like to believe that they'll be relieved those songs have seen the light of day at last."
Aftershocks aside, equally evident on Alas Folkloric is an air of radical departure, as one of our most thoughtful songwriters follows his heart to a new level of personal expression, with fresh horses to speed his way.
Cold Chisel alumnus Don Walker had a hand in the sparse, resonant song of transition, "A Curse on Both Your Houses". Co-producer Wayne Connolly (Kneivel, You Am I, the Vines, Dallas Crane) applies his rock guitar wizardry and sundry other skills to a handful of tracks.
Pedal steel player Garrett Costigan (Tex Don and Charlie) is a poignant presence on "Let the Hurricane Blow", "A Love So High" and "Stand Your Ground", a trio songs that could only have been written by a seasoned observer of life who knows how to hold his powder dry.
"I knew it was time to finish the album when I was doing 'Stolen Moments'," Jim says. "I did the vocals in April this year and I'd done the backing track back in '98. A lot of the time I was making the record, life just took over.
"At times I thought well, maybe I should just hang up my guitar and go retire in dignity. But I'd started spending time hanging out at folk festivals and I realised making music was too important to me, to my happiness.
"I found those festivals a revelation because they're full of people who are music fans. It's not about the music business, or people telling you what's cool. It's about people having quiet revelations in bowling clubs and cafes and if you're crap, people walk out. You just need to be good at what you do."
After 20 years of classic recordings, perhaps the real calibre of Jim Moginie's craft is only now coming to light, maybe in the line-drawing character sketch of "Stranger Than Truth", the dark suburban confusion of "Stolen Moments" or the prayer of hope that is "Pastoral Scene".
And ultimately, albeit tempered by the experience and even resignation of a wiser man, his message of self-respect and gentle defiance is as strong as ever: "Everything fades, everything fades, but we will not fade away."
"I think the key is to continue with a certain sense of integrity, not to do the obvious acoustic album of your greatest hits," Jim says. "I think people are much more interested in (artists) doing things that are now, for them.
"Being in a big band and all that goes with it, all of that fell away for me in the last few years and that was a really interesting process. Let it all fall apart and see what happens. That's what making this record has been all about."
The beautiful and thought provoking album was produced by Jim Moginie, Wayne Connolly and Brent Clark and recorded in various Sydney studios including his own secret hideaway, ‘Mums’.
Moginie sings, and also plays the majority of instruments including optigan harmonium, piano and of course, guitars. Whilst fans of Midnight Oil will be pleased to note that drummer Rob Hirst and fellow guitarist Martin Rotsey guest on some of the tracks, the new songs are on the whole very different to his previous work, with Lennonesque vocals and beautifully crafted lyrics.
Jim said of the album, “The album kicked into gear after the Oils broke up late in 2002 . Some lost songs were rediscovered and new ones came along. The themes of the songs aren’t all disaffected 70’s leftie agitprop although inevitably some of that is in there. There’s a gentler, more folkloric nature to what I do here, one that didn’t really fit into Midnight Oil’s sound. It’s all about the songs for me but I love also mucking around with sounds and the potential of the recording studio on this record and working with other artists. It feels like a joyous thing of beauty to get this thing out of my system and onto a CD, I’ve done lots of solo gigs in the interim, and I’ve been doing my frontman moves in front of the mirror”.
In signing Jim to EMI, Managing Director John O’Donnell said, “Jim Moginie is one of the true legends and under sung heroes of Australian music. ‘Alas Folkloric’ addresses this - it sees Jim stepping out from the shadow of Midnight Oil, releasing an album of powerful and emotional songs that are coloured by his trademark sonic wonder”.