Soundtrack of memories
I want to have people who love music look back on their memories of a certain album and record the significance of everything they find.
■Your name including the names of your musical project(s): Mahne Frame, intern at 21 N FUN
■Date of birth: 1 November
■Where you live: Tokyo, Japan
■What does music give you?: A wife, but no kids yet
■Album : Chill Out – The KLF
Why I refuse to watch Star Wars
To those who know the facts, please don’t shoot me. It’s hard to remember what’s real after four years in Japan without Japanese. Plus my memory has never been the best, but I’ll try my best.
When I listen to The KLF, ‘Chill Out’:
I actually try NOT to play this record, cos when I do it gives me a resounding sense of freedom that only my younger naiver self could muster up organically. You’re probably thinking that sounds good; it is good, but the problem is that each time I listen the feeling gets a little further watered down and I’m afraid of completely washing it away. I try not to play it cos I’m worried that my brain will chisel out new pathways, muddied by my current environment, wrecking the original copy. Or equally disheartening, my brain will start remembering the memory instead of the real thing, and then the memory of the memory of the memory etc. If this can happen with a dead loved one, then surely it can happen with a record.
Anyway, when I listen to The KLF, ‘Chill Out’:
I remember Kirin J Callinan: It was Kirin who showed me the record, somewhere in middle America. Nothing felt real. A week before, I was a picture framer, working 9-5 in Sydney cutting and joining corners and trying to convince Kirin to take me on my first tour. The excitement around the idea had worn off and the logistics had set in; there was no money. It was Friday afternoon, Kirin had already landed in LA and was gearing up to hit the road solo. In a last ditch effort I offered to do the tour for free. As I waited for an answer, I clocked out of work and told them I’d either be back on Monday or sitting on a plane.
Before we go forward, let’s go back even further. Kirin is the loudest proponent of Sydney I’ve ever met. I dare you to take him on in a debate where you argue the side of Melbourne. He has SFC for Sydney Football Club tattooed on the front of his right shoulder, and, cos he’s usually shirtless, it’s the second thing you notice after his face. So fittingly, the first time I heard Kirin I was driving my two friends and their Craigslist fridge across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. ‘Embracism’ came on the radio and my friends who’d already heard of Kirin started debating: one on the side of garbage and the other on the side of genius. Over the expanse of our iconic bridge, my brain steadily clicked over from confusion to captivation.
It was night-time when Kirin put the record on. Normally he throws his hands around when we’re driving in the car listening to music, nailing each instrumental flourish, drums, bass, guitar, you name it, with a natural ease that I’ve tried to imitate but it’s fucking hard. He’s in tune, in his element (next time you get in the car with him, put him behind the wheel and play ‘Blackened’). But The KLF ‘Chill Out’ is a different story: it’s one of the rare times I’ve seen him sit still.
Driving at night-time is already the ideal setting for connecting with a piece of music, even in the most routine circumstances. But add the bewilderment of actually making it to the States, and the awe of migrating some huge expanse I’d never heard of, and you can start to understand why it was the first album that came to mind when my friend Yuki asked me to write this, quote ~ “manuscript”.
The next thing I remember is Tex Crick: My memories of Tex are harder to collect cos our day to day relationship is one of the few components of my life that made it through to living in Tokyo. We hang out several times a week, a saving grace in Japan while it’s one of the last countries holding onto COVID-19 isolation. It does help though if I picture him bald without eyebrows, his choice of form on this run of shows. I can use that image to help compartmentalise that era of Tex. We shared beds and shaved each other’s heads, building a slow solid bond. On the day in question, Tex was busy filming trucks for a not yet released truck documentary but there was only so much that could be captured in the middle of the night. We had a big Chevy van with bench seats and Tex and Kirin climbed into the back rows to catch some shut eye, so Spike climbed into the front.
And therefore I remember Spike Fuck: She’d just joined us in the van after that night’s show, to accompany us for a few dates. It was the early hours of the morning. I was instructed to keep driving and Spike was instructed to keep me awake until we found somewhere to stay; somewhere between somewhere and somewhere. As we blasted through the night we talked about Nirvana and her Californian porn star girlfriend. As The KLF washed us in sound abstractions, we were both captivated by a low light on the horizon that seemed to be travelling towards us. As we speculated about psychotic truck drivers and aliens, a small shaky plane appeared, hurtling straight for our van. Just as we held our hands up to shield our eyes, it curved right above us and flew low across some field next to the road. A farmer spraying his crops. We accidentally drove until dawn, jacked up just being there.
I’ve only met up with Spike once since then, briefly in passing, but there was something about that night under the vast American sky that has fast-tracked the need for any small talk when we meet again.
So anyway, I try not to listen to The KLF, ‘Chill Out’; for the same reason I refuse to watch Star Wars. I’m saving that connection to my nostalgic core for an absolutely dire time, and I hope I’m not too much of a donut to miss it.
Special thanks to Graphic Art Mount for the fact that they would’ve been disappointed to see me back at work instead of going after my dream. Special thanks to Yuki Kikuchi who got me to write this, and who I coincidently met on the same tour I’ve documented here today. I have my own project now and I hope if you ever listen to my music you’ll consider getting in a car and driving at night.
I’m listening to The KLF ’Chill Out’ right now to help me write this “manuscript”, and in doing so I may’ve just killed it.
From growing up in the Australian bush to living in Tokyo throughout the pandemic, Mahne Frame is an artist difficult to pin down: be it the multiple outfits he’s loaned his drum skills to (namely Kirin J Callinan, Aya Gloomy), or his solo music, branded with simplicity, cynicism and ilucidity. Inspired by The Prodigy, Nick Cave, Goldie, Valentino Rossi, his “baritone-monotone” (NME) mixed with “icy rave beats” (PAPER) has seen the singer/drummer/producer collaborate with Japanese rapper Tohji and recently, Australian artist Buzz Kull.