Acid jazz, psycho-funk and electric humpbacks

Issue 

Not Necessarily Stoned
Society
Through Disculture
Reviewed by Norm Dixon

This terrific little CD single, by Sydney-based band Society, came as a pleasant surprise when I popped it onto my stereo. Two extended tracks focus on issues that have been shaking up politics in inner Sydney: the impact of the third runway and alternatives to woodchipping, specifically hemp. This is not another dreary folk group playing protest songs.

The first track, "Planes Overhead", kicks straight into a languid acid jazz groove, over which wafts some delightful trumpet. The song was written in Leichhardt as 747s thundered over. Band members were interrupted 16 times in 40 minutes as they discussed how the track would be mixed!

While the song's lyrics are sparse and basic, they advocate two quite sensible — if not very sophisticated — ways to alleviate the noise of screaming jet engines above your living room: play music louder than the planes and/or get stoned.

Society is quick to point out that such a strategy should not be counterposed to "protests, civil unrest" and entering the arena of electoral politics to hold "both major political parties responsible for having neighbourhoods turned into flight paths in a city where the level of pollution and congestion is already unacceptable".

The second track is the stand-out tune on the platter. "Not Necessarily Stoned But Beautiful" is an instrumental homage to the humble hemp plant and its many positive features, which are becoming better known by the day. A truly spaced-out vibe pervades this gem. Chunky funk bass lines anchor a sort of psychedelic-reggae, or is it chunky reggae bass lines that anchor a psychedelic-funk? I'm not sure, but it's nice.

And the electric guitars sing like humpback whales. Well, they may not necessarily be stoned, but what do you reckon?

The CD is rounded out by a much blander club mix of "Planes Overhead", minus trumpet, for those trendy club goers who need lots of thumping bass to know when to put each foot on the ground.

Society's CD single is financed out of their own pockets. Hopefully, it will not be the last we hear from this socially conscious (and hedonistic) outfit. Perhaps groups involved in political and environmental campaigns should contact the band now to get them to play benefits before they get too popular and famous. Society can be contacted at (02) 363 9417 or via Disculture at (02) 519 3101 (fax: 557 1070).

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