|Andrew's official history||
The Metronomes were founded by Al Webb and Andrew Picouleau in about 1979 I think. It was really Al's idea and energy that got it off the ground – he had the contacts to organise the recording, the covers, and the independent release through Cleopatra Records. I think we'd started talking about ideas we'd like to record and we developed certain rules – that we'd use a metronome as the percussive rhythm and that we'd each record our separate compositions – the other member was open to invitations for contributions but the originating member had the right to refuse or ignore any and all suggestions or contributions.
We did the first single (to a fairly limited response in the alternative music press) and then did another, this time with Ash Wednesday as an invited guest. Then we did an album – we must be up to about 1981 or 82 by now. We'd started moving away from instrumentals on the second single and there were quite a few songs on the album. While there was the odd thing I'd change if could, I thought we'd done a pretty reasonable job. I can't really remember the reviews now, but I think it was probably the same old mild enthusiasm in the alternative music press.
I got a bit diverted over the next few years, playing with the Sacred Cowboys, and then “retiring” from music for a while to do an arts degree. In 1985 Al got in touch about doing another album with Ash. In my memory this came together pretty quickly, and was a more refined piece of work than the first one – I was pretty happy with it – there was even a track that come together out of nowhere (Deluxe Service Station) which is always a good sign.
The critical response was mixed.
You'd have to wonder why we keep doing it – it's a strange kind of compulsion, we just do.
Anyway, years passed, and after various musical adventures, I'd pretty much ground to a halt musically, when I get an email at work from a German student, asking if I was the Andrew Picouleau that played in the seminal 80's Melbourne electronic band, the Metronomes. Of course I am, I immediately replied, thanks for asking. Some correspondence ensued, and the possibility of re-releasing the old material came up. At this point, I felt obliged to contact the others, but as I had lost touch, I needed to get their addresses etc through APRA – this became a little tedious, blah blah blah, but in the end I got in touch, and Al as usual got us organised to do some recording, and after 3 or 4 years of sporadic effort, hampered only by the insurmountable complexity of the recording software, we've settled on the 14 tracks that are listed somewhere on this site.
Al wanted to do an album that centred on the idea of the frustrations and disappointments one encountered in using the internet, or more broadly, on the deficit between the experience of using the web and the way it had been represented in the media. (Some of this is becoming anachronistic already – broadband users will not really understand the excruciating misery of waiting to get online, then waiting for pages to download, then waiting for files to download, waiting, waiting, waiting…..)
I was ok with this, but I preferred to focus on my own obsessions: my sense that the 21 st century had not lived up to the predictions of science fiction that I had cherished in my youth – that JG Ballard's vision of the future had turned out to be right after all (one vast conforming suburb of the soul) – that the aliens hadn't made contact, that the space program had fizzled out to a kind of sad farce, that political and social change had reached a kind of mediocre peak in the 80's and had been slipping back into neo-conservativism ever since……but I could see congruencies, parallels, echoes between the two themes.
I'm not sure what Ash made of all this, he seems to have gone broader in some ways, although Today stays pretty close.
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