Boomkat Product Review:
Left Ear cock to 1983 and the new wave pop of Melbourne’s Tester Housing with a reissue/compilation of their impossible-to-find 7”s, landing somewhere between Dome side projects and early Ultravox
Tester Housing, aka Bill Tolson and Ken Olver, were forged in the belly of the city’s scene centred around St. Kilda, which would play incubator to the likes of The Bad Seeds and many more scuzzy punks and beatniks with a taste for the grog and whatever else they could huff down. Or as they put it; “just say something interesting such as drugs and ego got in the way and after we both had a knife fight on St Kilda pier one night and we both decided to go into rehab for the next twenty years. Or alternatively, we just knew that if we continued to play music together we would become too rich and boring.”
Prior to Tester Housing, Bill set up Prahan’s Greville Records in 1978 and founded the prolific Rampant Records in 1982, home to likes of Not Drowning, Waving and David Chesworth, before playing with Ken in new wave group Gilded Youth, and eventually the short stint that produced the two singles compiled here. ‘The Clock Ticks Over’ is a sweetly puckered piece of synth-pop surely channelling Graham Lewis over plinky synths that get smudged up a treat in the Dub Version, while the B-side follows suit with piquant melody and poised vocal recalling early Ultravox and John Foxx, but the one for us is ‘Oh’, stripping everything back to starkly measured vocal and Factory-esque jangle certain to lay ohrwurms in your left ear, and maybe the right, too?