DIRTY WHITE MUSIC
LESS is more. Elegance is born of simplicity. Bluegrass kicks arse.
These statements sum up the powerful appeal of 'Dirty White Music', the second album written and performed by Daylesford-based musician Adrian Kosky. The album comprises 14 original songs, played using traditional acoustic instruments, such as dulcimer, mandolin, dobro, guitar and blues harp.
The result is compelling adaptation of Appalachian, folk and roots styles, infused by the environment and culture of central Victoria. Kosky's themes reflect meditations on isolation, locality, metamorphosis, and the travails of middle-aged life. He is blessed with fine wit and compassion, not to mention a gentle yet commanding voice.
All these qualities are evident in abundance on 'Dirty White Music', an album which marks its creator as an emerging folk star, not merely in Australia, but also on the international stage. The album traverses the roots music spectrum, with each song finding an engaging balance of technique and passion, with moods ranging from mischief to melancholia.
'Dirty White Music' was recorded and produced by another Daylesford musician - Richard Pleasance, theme composer for the highly successful ABC series 'Sea Change', and formerely a core member of rock band Boom Crash Opera.
"The recordings were made in a mud brick studio in Elevated Plains, just out of town," explains Kosky.
"Each day, Richard and I would work together to build recordings that honour the place each song comes from, and perhaps capture a little of the spirit that lives inside each one if you look hard enough to find it. The songs are organic in the sense that they have been grown without chemical fertilisers, picked by hand, built locally and cooked with care."
Since his first self-funded album, 'Frozen With Intent' in 2002, Adrian Kosky has found himself in ever increasing demand on the Australian and US folk circuits. He has performed at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, and the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. He also attracted the attention of renowned Canadian folk musician and multi-instrumentalist Harry Manx, who was his formal mentor at Woodford..
In addition, his singing and songwriting have led to finalist positions in the Music Oz Awards, the Australian Songwriters' Association Awards, and the US International Song Competition.
To top it all, Kosky was recently awarded the prestigious 2005 Albert d'Ossche Contemporary Dulcimer Scholarship at Western Carolina University in the US, along with a professional mentorship with famous English luthier Terry Hennessy - whose instruments form part of the Smithsonian Institute's music collection.
Kosky will shortly head to the US to take up his scholarship, and further add to his performing credentials.
"I aspire to be able to understand simple music," he says. "I want to take its essence and magic, distil it, and pass on its addictive qualities to others, infecting them with the same desire."
For Kosky, 'Dirty White Music' is the result of a lifetime of love and learning.
"I was born into a religious denomination with an ancient, well documented spirituality that I never really connected with, except on a cultural level. When I was 13 I heard my first Muddy Waters album - and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. The music I love still does that to me today."
Adrian's next project represents the fulfilment of a grand desire. He is preparing to write and perform an album of songs specifically for the dulcimer - an instrument he regards as underrated and ignored in Australia. His own instrument, made from Australian timbers, was built by Terry Hennessy, making it, arguably, one of the finest in the world.
"The album will explore and reflect what happens when one culture blends with another," he explains. "The melding of the Americana influence, with the origins of the instrument rooted in Celtic tradition, together with my own Australian-English roots, will I hope produce something unique - and uniquely melodic."
In the meantime, however, Adrian Kosky will be giving his all to build the success of 'Dirty White Music', due out in July. It won't be a difficult task. It will be, in fact, beautifully simple.