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Mess Esque: Dream #12 – “the essence of something special”

The Dirty Three guitarist and Brisbane songwriter combine for beauty on their debut album.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brisbane-based label, Bedroom Suck Records, started their Private Eyes series, releasing a host of records from artists including Low Flung, Barricade, and the great Blue Divers – the latter featuring on these pages earlier this year.

The series finishes in seismic fashion with Mess Esque, a new collaboration between the Dirty Three‘s Mick Turner and Brisbane-based artist, Helen Franzmann, better known to us as Mckisko.

The duo’s debut album, Dream #12, comprises of songs that were recorded remotely last year between Turner in Melbourne and Mckisko in Brisbane.

Turner is no stranger to a collaboration such as this and speaking before the release of Dream #12, he hinted at the need of a voice to accompany his latest work. Having worked alongside Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, most notably on the era-defining Moon Pix, Mess Esque provides a similar aesthetic whereby his lithe, gentle, guitar work shines.

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The foil for Turner‘s innocuous proficiency arrives in the way of Mckisko. Living close by a major road, in an attempt to capture the necessary artistic weight, Mckisko recorded the vocals for Dream #12 during the early hours of the morning.

And with a modest poise, the results are fantastic.

Like a feather floating through the air, Big Old Blue begins this pensive journey. On the sonic bedding of wobbly synths and soft clarinet, Mckisko‘s weary late-night-empty-bar vocals alongside Turner’s melodic thrumming illuminates the imagery of an Australian summer where that gentle breeze creeps through the backdoor, providing momentary respite from the bone-dry heat. 

Mess Esque - Dream #12

On Yoko Ono’s Listen, the Snow is Falling, Mess Esque deconstruct the ditty into a blues-y balladeering reverie, providing the same kind of emotional intensity as something from the Dirty Three’s Ocean Songs.

Creeping through the hallways of jazz, on Make it Waves Mckisko’s wispy-cloud-like voice create a luscious imagery akin to being alone on a beach and watching the waves roll in. In fact, it’s almost like re-imagining the portraits that Turner has spent a lifetime committing to the canvas.

While Turner’s plucky chords and Mckisko’s abstract vocals during the title track pass off a cinematic aroma, the song itself is a mere curtain-raiser for False Mirror. The shiniest jewel in this particular crown.

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With soft drums reminiscent of a punch-drunk procession, Mckisko‘s cracked melodies and Turner’s gentle riffs pass through broody synths, guiding us towards the sunset.

And that’s where Dream #12 ends. On a lonesome road starting absently into the sunset.

A release that gets stronger with every listen, Dream #12 contains the essence of something special. It may appear simplistic on the surface, but it’s the subtle intricacies which makes Dream #12 one of the collaborations of 2021.

Much like Turner’s Dirty Three cohort, Jim White, who last year joined forces with Marisa Anderson, alongside McKisko we very much hope that Mess Esque is just the start of this beguiling coalition.

Dream #12 is out now via Bedroom Suck Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

3 replies on “Mess Esque: Dream #12 – “the essence of something special””

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