Beat’s best of Bandcamp: Exploring the dark, elegant music of Two Steps on the Water’s June Jones

Beat’s best of Bandcamp: Exploring the dark, elegant music of Two Steps on the Water’s June Jones

June Jones - image by Jess Brohier
Words by Tom Walters

Also featured in this week’s column are double bassist Helena Svoboda and local electronic luminary Alex Albrecht.

Hello and welcome to Beat’s best of Bandcamp, a fortnightly roundup of the best new Melbourne/Naarm bands and artists making waves on the internet’s most indispensable music platform. 

Bandcamp has been incredibly supportive of artists during the COVID-19 crisis with its Bandcamp Fridays initiative, where for 24 hours, the site takes no fee and 100% of profits go directly to artists. Bandcamp Fridays will return in 2021, with the first taking place on February 5. 

If you’ve been meaning to buy some new music, are a seasoned Bandcamp veteran looking for something fresh, or are simply intrigued at what Bandcamp has to offer, then this column will have you covered every two weeks with Victoria’s finest.

Let’s start exploring!

Keep up to date with everything local and international music at our website.

June Jones

“Having ADHD means I am probably more prone to having boredom than most,” says June Jones, whose second album Leafcutter comes out Friday February 19. Jones wields her ADHD like a superpower, swinging between styles on every song and sticking all the landings. 

‘Therapy’, the second single from the album, lays bare all of Jones’ wants, needs and comforts. “I need something that I can count on/I need a calculator, I need a clock/I need to tell the world a story/I need a place to write my name,” she sings, her thick, honeyed vocals traversing atmospheric keys and kick drums. Jones’ voice takes centre stage on ‘Therapy’, the flurries of saxophone propping the weight of it up as it’s beamed into the heavens.

The whole of Leafcutter was, according to Jones, “made on a tiny refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad that I bought off a guy at a McDonald’s”. While the music is brilliantly low key and unpolished, it would be an injustice to label Jones’ music as lo-fi or bedroom pop. Using only the tools in front of her, Jones shows that when no matter what you pour “18 months and 1000 hours of work” into, you can create something that oozes with depth, courage and confidence. 

Fans of John Grant, Kate Bush and Björk will find a lot to love here — Leafcutter is by very definition art pop, but it never ventures out of the realm of accessibility. Start with ‘Therapy’ and let the dark elegance of it all wash over you.

Leafcutter is out Friday February 19 on Bandcamp.

Helena Svoboda

Melbourne native Helena Svoboda is a nature enthusiast. Her compositions with the double bass often feel organic and spacious, creeping gently like vegetable roots crawling through soil. On dormant, I lay — a new Bandcamp release out now  — she encapsulates all the darkness of last year’s lockdowns while simultaneously expunging it with catharsis. 

dormant, I lay is a compilation of multi-tracked double bass recordings, all captured on a Zoom H4 in a tiny Dutch apartment amidst the peak of European lockdown in April. The apartment’s size is reflected in tracks like ‘Flight’ and ‘Greyscale’ — listen with headphones, and you can practically feel the walls closing in. 

Svoboda says the music “depicts the apathy and uncertainty felt amidst an unprecedented era in our shared timeline of life; yet, a peacefulness remains in the belief that this chapter is temporary … a period of learning and appreciation of things we never previously appreciated”. While dark and at times claustrophobic, it’s certainly true that there’s peace to be found in dormant, I lay — perhaps in the mental clarity that’s to be found long after the songs finish.

dormant, I lay is out now on Bandcamp.

Alex Albrecht

Melbourne’s Analogue Attic Recordings showcases the gentler side of Australian electronic music, and one of its founders — Alex Albrecht — is one of the best at creating it. Albrecht is best known for exploring hypnotic, deep house music as part of the duo Albrecht La’Brooy, but is now prepping his debut solo album, Campfire Stories.

Due out Wednesday March 10, the first taste of Campfire Stories, ‘The Beaten Track w. Oliver Paterson’, nods to Ibiza balearica, ambient country and lo-fi house. While Albrecht says Campfire Stories is intended to be listened to from start to finish, ‘The Beaten Track’ does make sense as a standalone track, drifting in on blissful percussion and a guitar line that wouldn’t sound out of place at Café del Mar.

Campfire Stories looks set to be one of the strongest Melbourne electronic releases of the year, bolstered by a supporting cast of players that includes the likes of 30/70’s Allysha Joy and Ziggy Zeitgeist (ZFEX), Thomas Gray, Carla Oliver (Badskin) and long-time musical partner and co-Analogue Attic head Sean La’Brooy. Releasing just in time for autumn to settle in, you can experience ‘The Beaten Track’ right now (this humid weather is perfect for it) and then enjoy the full LP as a balm for the mind over the colder months. 

Campfire Stories is out on Wednesday March 10 on Bandcamp.

Missed our last Beat’s best of Bandcamp column, featuring Alexander Biggs? Give it a read here.