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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
art & style 114 Australia is a large, vast and for the main part, empty country. Amidst the red dust of the outback or the gum trees of undulating bush land there's room for many songs. And that's what Australian music does: it creates the right sounds to ll those immense spaces. e music may be di erent, with many styles claiming to be the de nitive Australian sound, but it's the sheer diversity, and the way it matches the Australian landscape, that makes it all unique. Australian music has long enjoyed a privileged position in the international music scene. Whether it was the Bee Gees conquering the United Kingdom in the late 1960s with their divine harmonies and folk rock composition, or INXS lling American stadiums in the 1980s with their anthemic funk rock, music has always been one of Australia's great exports. One of the reasons that Australian music breaks through the geographic isolation is that artists have time -- sometimes too much -- to develop their sound, and they can do it without being deluged by the minor distractions of international fads and trends. It's probably no coincidence that the most isolated city in the world, the Western Australian capital of Perth, has produced so many successful acts, from the Tri ds to Empire of the Sun vocalist Luke Steele: the musicians have time to make something of themselves, to discover what could be unique about their art. Australian bands play a lot of gigs before they get anywhere. It's a rite of passage for young groups to drive up and down the east coast of Australia, playing Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as the regional centres in between, and then turn around and come right back. If you can entertain a bunch of miners looking to go crazy on a Saturday night, or shake up a staid country town, then the rest of the world doesn't o er too many unexpected challenges. e international market is invariably shocked by how prepared Australian bands are. INXS played over 500 gigs in the late 1970s before they got overseas, so once they had the chance they were ready and willing to grasp it. e groups appear fully formed, without an embarrassing gestation. In the late 1990s two young men from Brisbane sold a remarkable 12 million albums worldwide with a collection of zzy, romantic pop songs. Savage Garden completely surprised international listeners as there'd been no inkling of them, no false starts or initial failures. One of the de nitive Australian sounds is pub rock, music forged on the crucible of hot, overcrowded venues full of revved up drinkers. Pub rock was music to burn o the stress of the working week and it had a thumping backbeat and loud guitars; it is therapy by the decibel. sounds of a southern land WHETHER THEY PLAY IN SMALL SUBURBAN PUBS OR HUGE AMERICAN ARENAS, AUSTRALIAN MUSICIANS BRING A UNIQUE, INFECTIOUS MAGIC TO THE WORLD. By Craig Mathieson unique viBe Luke Steele (left) and Nick Littlemore found their sound in the vast Australian space for Empire of the Sun.