Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Naarm/Melbourne duo Dippers (fka Thigh Master) give kudos to Gareth Williams and Mary Currie’s lone release as Flaming Tunes (1985).
Dippers is the duo of Matthew Ford and Innez Tulloch, who formerly worked together under the name Thigh Master. Together, they make jangly and earnest indie pop music, which remains as shaggy and exuberant as ever on the new album, Clastic Rock, out now via Tenth Court and Goner Records.
Dippers’ Innez Tulloch’s Love Letter to Flaming Tunes’ Self-Titled
Innez Tulloch: You know when a record finds you at exactly the right time? That’s what happened with Flaming Tunes by Gareth Williams and Mary Currie. It was February 17th, 2020, when I first saw the original pressing front cover shared in a Record Sharing group on Facebook that Matthew and I are in. The front cover showed a worn out black and white photo, a man and woman, in their late 20s maybe. It’s Gareth and Mary, childhood friends, with Gareth looking a little sinister behind Mary, who looks calm and serene. Perhaps you can judge a record cover by the cover? Either way, I was intrigued. And when I saw that our pal Bill Roe commented “NEED” under the post of the vinyl, I knew I had to go and have a listen.
Now, note the date, February 17th, 2020. At this time the world was getting very weird and scary. We weren’t yet in the world of lockdowns, but the Preston markets certainly felt strange, and we, as Thigh Master then, had just, after long deliberation and two days before we were due to leave, cancelled a tour to the US. On this trip, we were going to record our third album, and it was our first tour with an actual booking agent. Oh, the hopes were high, but better to be safe than sorry, right?
So, with the trip cancelled and the world rapidly falling apart around us, Flaming Tunes enters the picture. It’s a little before its November 2020 re-release on Superior Viaduct, so it wasn’t readily available online, but with time at hand, I happily jumped down the rabbit hole. With my curiosity at an all-time high, and usual channels not throwing a bone, enter a mystery kind person who popped a full stream of the record on YouTube (bless their soul).
On first listen I was hooked. I grew up playing classical piano and have always been a sucker for a recorded upright, and on the album opener, ‘Another Flaming Tune’, it’s right up there, front and centre. Throw in almost all of my other favourite musical tropes – i.e., rolling repeated melodic sequences; humming; slightly singed sounding synthesisers; cut-up bass and rhythms on simple drum machines or found objects; all home recorded on tape and manipulated in mixing – and well, I was a complete goner.
As the first track fades out into ‘Beguiling the Hours’, a slightly wonky out of tune clarinet (is that what it is?) enters the picture and I found myself in the Eno-esque elements of the record. Eno but, like, home-done Eno, panned hand claps, instruments and elements that make noise that’s also music. They’re not paying an hourly studio rate, and why should they? And the lyrics: “Beguiling the hours / A thousand precious thoughts.” It was the most perfect album to find in that exact moment.
I could take you through every track, but honestly, if any of the above sounds good to you, jump on in. Every track is beautifully different, touching and soothing in its own way. From the hypnotically treated guitars and synthesisers to the crickets and rainfall on ‘Raindrops from Heaven’, which soothed me through lockdowns with too many housemates under the same roof, dreaming of being in the bush, under the stars and hearing crickets and feeling the rain fall on my face.
I still listen to this album and adore it. I mean, I listened over the weekend, and am listening to it right now while I write this. I cried when Matthew bought it for me on record; that is how much it means to me. So, thank you Gareth Williams and Mary Currie for recording this playful, hypnotic, inspiring and moving work of art. First released in the year I was born, and now will forever live with me through my life.
Dippers – ‘Recurrent Sight’
Get your hands on ‘Clastic Rock’ by Dippers now.