Craig Schuftan


Bastian Fox Phelan

Bastian Fox Phelan is a prodigiously talented singer, songwriter, zinemaker and adventurer. We met in 2009, and immediately bonded over music, museums and self-publishing, at which Bastian was already something of a master. I read their zine 'Adventure Time', a serious investigation into the philosophy and practice of fun, and found, soon after, that my life had been altered in subtle but important ways by the experience. (I had to learn to get used to this - at least once a year, it seems, Bastian writes a zine that knocks my world slightly off its axis). Not long after, they opened a Vegan tea house with fellow zinester Natalie in Newcastle's Hunter St Mall, and a few months later, this lively (and much-missed) venue hosted the first performance of my talk on Disco, 'You Can't Stop the Musing' as part of the annual This is Not Art (TINA) festival. Since then we've worked on all kinds of projects together, from zine-making days to the launch of Entertain Us!, where Bastian performed a gut-wrenchingly sad version of Weezer's 'Say it Ain't So'.

What with my passion for Chic and Sister Sledge, and Bastian's ability to write charming melodies and sing the hell out of them, it was inevitable that we should at some point attempt to make a disco tune of our own. Our limited means (spare bedroom, reel-to-reel tape recorder, small piano and ukelele) ensured that it turned out more James White and The Blacks than Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. But then, Bastian, with their fierce independence, unique style and ability to produce small masterpieces on a shoestring, is far more spirit of '76 than Studio 54.

Bastian Fox Phelan - The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Schuftronics

Bastian Fox Phelan: Vocals, Ukelele
Craig Schuftan: Tape guitar, bass, percussion, triangle

Bastian on Cowbird

Bastian's Soundcloud
part 1 fear and loathing marina and the diamonds 2

Actually My Name's Marina

"What the audience demands of the artist - really demands, in its unconscious desire - and what the artist thinks it ought to be given... [is] the same thing: the sentiment of being. The sentiment of being is the sentiment of being strong... such energy as contrives that the centre shall hold, that the circumference of the self keep unbroken, that the person be an integer, impenetrable, perdurable, and autonomous in being if inot in action."

marina and the diamonds | the family jewels | identity | personality | realism | authenticity | lionel trilling

WuTang1 e1395794252557

Once upon a time

"Music was now an object that could be owned by the individual and used at his own convenience... Now the Symphony of a Thousand could play to an audience of one. Now a man could hear nocturnes at breakfast, vespers at noon, and the Easter Oratorio on Channukah. He could do his morning crossword to 'One O'Clock Jump', and make love right through the St Matthew Passion. Anything was possible; nothing was sacred; freedom was absolute. It was the freedom, once the cathedral of culture had been wrecked, to take home the bits you liked and arrange them as you please. Once again, a mechanical invention had met capitalism's need to recreate all of life in its image. The cathedral of culture was now a supermarket."

Evan Eisenberg, 1987

wu-tang clan | shaolin | age of mechanical reproduction | aura | ritual | art | artists


Tomorrow's Harvest

"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."



Hold to the Difficult

"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1904

rainer maria rilke | kate bush


Always music in the air

'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'

Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966

pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room


Music Sounds Better

'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'

Susan McClary, 1999

stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition