Born out of a cross state remote collaboration during lockdowns, Mess Esque features music and instruments by Mick Turner and words and voice by Helen Franzmann. The duo, whose base is both Melbourne and Brisbane, and who recorded their first 2 albums before ever meeting in person, are set to follow the release of their second album – the self titled Mess Esque, released late last year on Milk! through Remote Control (and Drag City in the US/Europe) – with a small run of shows in Melbourne, regional Victoria, Adelaide and Sydney. These will be their last shows before heading to the US, where they’ll do a few weeks of shows off the back of being invited to play Wilco’s Solid Sound festival.
Mick Turner is best known as one third of the Dirty Three. He has also played guitar with loads of talented others including Cat Power, Bonnie Prince Billy, Nick Cave, Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett; and he’s also released several mostly instrumental releases on Drag City.
Helen Franzmann has released three albums under her McKisko moniker and in 2009 was the recipient of the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship for her songwriting. In 2019, they were introduced through a mutual friend who’d produced the last McKisko album. With a plan to get together and make a record, they sent ideas back and forth – but when the getting together part proved impossible, they continued to collaborate from a distance.
Mick and Helen eventually met in person a year or so ago when they were invited to open for Ed Kuepper and Jim White at their opening night Comedy Theatre appearance at Melbourne’s Rising Festival. By that first show, the first Mess Esque album Dream #12 had just been released on Australian indie Bedroom Suck: it was released in a limited edition of 300 LP, with hand-screened covers in April 2021. Their second album Mess Esque followed just months afterwards – in October – and was described in Backseat Mafia: “Mess Esque the album is an ethereal, gentle delight: yearning brittle and delicate vocals that glide over subtle but barely restrained instrumentation that adds a gold filigree to a barbed wire brush. It has the raw and visceral edge of Velvet Underground mixed with a dream pop blur – a late night excess that has resolved into a blurred fugue. What a magical collaboration.”
Through a patient balance of improvisations and a focused pursuit of something that wasn’t fully there at the start, Mess Esque willed themselves and their world into verdant, lustrous being. Having moved things along with a number of shows earlier this year, and now they’re set to give us a last quiet burst of their brilliance before we let the rest of the world have them for a while.
Mess Esque coalesce from ripples of guitar and shudders of emotion into the bumps and grooves of songs with biologic inevitability. Mick Turner‘s aquatic guitar moods are met where they live and breathe by the vocals and dream imagery of Helen Franzmann aka McKisko, causing nights, moons, low tides and empty landscapes to simmer with raw passion. (Drag City site)
MESS ESQUE – LIVE, MAY 2022
5th May – Caravan Club, Archies Creek – TIX
6th May – Lighthouse Arts Collective, Pt Lonsdale – TIX
8th May – NSC, Northcote, VIC (with Sweet Whirl & Palm Springs) – TIX
11th May – The Gov, Adelaide (opening for Ed Kuepper with Jim White) –TIX
13th May – The Great Club, Sydney (with Fabels & Darren Cross) – TIX
Mess Esque | NME
Buy / stream Mess Esque – Mess Esque: https://ffm.to/messesque.ois
Mess Esque – Mess Esque is out now
via Milk! Records / Remote Control Records