from the gas webpage:
“gas began in 1995 in an upstairs room in columbo st. three multi-instrumentalists, gene-pool belmondo , ian blenkinsop, and mick elborado began to melt down a number of influences in belmondo’s living room. among the early precepts was a staunch dictum that no live drums be used. this meant finding different methods for establishing rythms, including cassette samples (provided by belmondo’s peavey delay pedal and blenkinsop’s casio sk-1) and manual analogue keyboard drums. many of elborados tended towards an all-guitar lineup. during this fertile period many songs were written. one of their first was blenkinsops “do the cobain”, a piece of black-humoured punk-pop set to a sped-up joy division drum-sample. songs came quickly; for instance “cubicle” (immortalised on the peculiar atmospheres cassette and on televisions catv) was put together by blenkinsop and elborado in the time it took belmondo to make some coffee. there were many which didnt make it much past this era, including belmondos lengthy drone-out “the worlds a balloon”. gas first live appearance was in a bedroom at a friends party. in a strong prefiguring of the problems the band would face with their low-tech approach, at the crucial hour the tape recorder didnt work and the cassette rythms gas were working heavily with at the time were abandoned perforce.
from the first, gas recorded their music on four-track machines. despite many recording sessions over the years, the bands recorded output remains slim. in 1996, gas released a 10-song cassette entitled peculiar atmospheres. the next project was a contribution to a mooted but unrealised local tribute album to australian punk pioneers the saints. a long-time favourite band of scollays, the song chosen was “erotic neurotic”. rather than try to out-punk the original, gas interpretation kept the brutal buzzsaw guitars (played by belmondo and elborado) and ramone-bass (scollay) but deviated wildly with a theremin-like sci-fi synth (blenkinsop), half-serious wagnerian vocals (by the whole band) and in place of guitar solos, elborado filled the sound-space with wild squalls of free-synth rasp, hiss, rumble and squiggle. all of the above was anchored to a steady, massive heavy-industrial clamping sound provided by a swans sample. the album was never compiled, and so gas unique translation of “erotic neurotic” was shelved.
another shelved project was a one-sided geraldine single. this was to have featured some of the bands shortest songs and in a packed five minutes offered scollays “league of the golden maidens”, a sound-collage by belmondo, elborados “town called anger” and blenkinsops minimalist masterpiece, “fearhide” with its infectious bicycle-pump rythm. the single was never released and again, the contents were shelved. scollay amicably departed the band a few months later. gas only other actual release was 1998s gas, a seven-song 10-inch geraldine ep recorded early in the year and engineered by dave khan of the experimental kkrrkk label.
while never exactly frequent, gas live appearances continued to be entertaining if problematic in terms of equipment, particularly in the rythm department. although not a new development (the concept was first unveiled at the short-lived his lordships hotel venue back in december 1996) increasingly, real drums featured in live appearances. while gas had plenty of original material, many cover versions were performed live, including “ambivalence” (the pin group), “are “friends” electric?” (tubeway army), “books” (teardrop explodes/echo and the bunnymen), “love will tear us apart” (joy division), “fraulein love” (space waltz), “let it all hang out” (the hombres), “the green manalishi” (fleetwood mac), “thanks to you” (mr. lee grant) and “trash” (both robin hitchcock and suede).
a curious interlude in gas history was the bands temporary mutation into the masons. for much of 1998 belmondo, blenkinsop and elborado were joined again by guy scollay, this time to play an entirely-original set composed exclusively of scollays songs, and in a fixed two-guitars (elborado and scollay), bass (blenkinsop) and drums (belmondo) beat-group lineup. despite belmondos initially-uncertain drums, the band had power and songs (“augury”, “the human torch”, “my example”) to burn. unfortunately, the masons concept was abandoned when the mercurial scollay lost interest in music altogether. there were a few live appearances but aside from two-track cassette practice-room and live tapes, no recording was attempted.
gas continued to record and play live, gradually assimilating new forms of technology in the course of their work. in 2000, live audiences were treated to a new version of “hinged and unhinged” which did away with all the tactile instruments entirely and instead utilised the band’s acapella vocals (and bad dancing) over a midi simulation. the effect was a parody of the plethora of boy and girl bands which made the pop-charts an adult-free zone at the time. audiences were also faced with an odd situation when the growing section of the set featuring traditional live drums eventually separated late in the year and on the 4th of november gas performed an entire hour-long foot-on-the-monitors rock’n’roll set.
in late 2000, gas recorded for the first time with computer technology. the results were blenkinsop’s “peculiar atmospheres” a long-time live favourite (and no relation to the tape cassette) and “we have nothing”. the latter was a spontaneous three-way collaborative effort in which a simple rythm-track was concocted out of two beats sampled from a 1960s dave dee, dozy, beaky, mick and titch song (“hold tight!”) and a wash of white synth-noise, with a long litany ( we have nothing to shit but shit itself/we have nothing to humour but humour itself ) chanted over it. a layer of synth and harmonica-texturing later it was finished. and for 2001? no dumb puns. more gas and better at it.
gas have been appearing as unannounced support band playing a virtually full rock’n’roll set, their equipment for playing back up tapes being somewhat unreliable at this time!!!”
picks in bold
- peculiar atmospheres [1996 self-released]
- erotic neurotic [unreleased]
- dark side of the cusp lathe-cut 10″ ep [self-released]