Essendon Airport (band)
Essendon Airport was an Australian post-punk group from 1978 to 1983 who explored experimental minimalist, electronic, and funk music. They reformed in the original duo lineup for occasional performances in 2003 following the re issue of Sonic Investigations of the Trivial. A new double CD reissue of Palimpsest and other live material was released by Chapter Music in August 2011.
Based in Melbourne, Essendon Airport began as an instrumental duo in 1978 with Robert Goodge on guitar and David Chesworth on Wurlitzer electric piano along with a homemade drum machine bought from the Trading Post. Both members lived in or near the suburb of Essendon, and took the name of Essendon Airport which since 1971 was no longer an international terminal (replaced by Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine).
They later became a four-piece, adding drums – Paul Fletcher, and saxophone – Ian Cox, and finally a five-piece with bass player Barbara Hogarth in 1982. The group disbanded in 1983. Each of these three line-ups produced quite different music. Essendon Airport performed around Melbourne's newly emerging post-punk inner-city venues such as The Crystal Ballroom, various galleries such as the George Paton and the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre (CHCMC), a venue for experimental music, performance and film during this time. They were also closely associated with performance group → ↑ →.
The duo released the EP Sonic Investigations of the Trivial and the single Talking To Cleopatra with Anne Cessna both on Innocent Records.
Their EP was described at the time by Essendon Airport as .... songs which combine many of the most facile and insipid kinds of music in a redeemingly dignified manner.... creating new trivia out of old. All this takes place along with a kind of pedantic fetishism for small-repetition games - the music travels in circles, spirals and solid blocks of sameness and difference. This manifestation of Essendon Airport is perhaps less well known than the later ones but played some memorable performances around Melbourne including the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre and supports at the Crystal Ballroom in front of bemused punters waiting for bands like Midnight Oil and Jimmy and the Boys
Embellished with the arrhythmic drumming of Paul Fletcher and the often sweet, often brittle saxophone of Ian Cox. The four-piece performed a range of material from extreme minimalism to plundering the hidden resonances of the popular song. Examples can be heard on the album Palimpsest (Innocent Records). The group also made recordings for Fast Forward cassette magazine and a disc give-away for the Art Network magazine.
Adding bass player Barabara Hogarth (from the funky band 'Government Drums' featuring Willy Zygier and Richard Pleasance) the group developed material with an art/funk feel and performed many headliners at the Jump Club, Crystal Ballroom and toured to Sydney. No recordings by the quintet were released until 2011, when the 2-CD release of Palimpsest included live an studio tracks, including a Live-to-Air performances on 3RRR FM including their final performance at the Crystal Ballroom.
After the dissolution of Essendon Airport, Chesworth continued performing as a soloist and with a new group entitled Whaddya Want? (with Phillip Jackson ex Whirlywirld, Equal Local) Goodge, Cox and Hogarth formed the nucleus of the successful pop-funk band I'm Talking which featured Kate Ceberano as lead vocalist. After the dissolution of I'm Talking, Goodge, Cox and Chesworth collaborated again in 1990 in the group "Power Trip featuring Mr Larry Weems". Chesworth later formed the instrumental group the David Chesworth Ensemble, in which Goodge has occasionally performed.
In 2003 a compilation CD was released on Chapter Music entitled Sonic Investigations of The Trivial, comprising live and studio recordings of the duo from 1978-1980. Following this release Essendon Airport have given occasional performances in their original duo guise. They perform their original music having painstakingly transferred the drum machine sounds from old tapes onto computer and have also added some new pieces. Graham Lee (ex-The Triffids) has been accompanying them on pedal-steel guitar. In 2011, Chapter Music reissued the album Palimpsest and a re-formed four piece band performed live to launch the CD. The four piece line up was Robert Goodge, David Chesworth, Paul Fletcher, and Phil Bywater. Bywater stood in for original saxophonist Ian Cox.
- David Chesworth - keyboard, vocals (1978–1983, 2003- )
- Robert Goodge - guitar (1978–1983, 2003- )
- Ian Cox - saxophone (1980–1983)
- Paul Fletcher - drums (1980–1983, 2011)
- Barbara Hogarth - bass (1982–1983)
- Graham Lee - pedal steel guitar (2005-2010)
- Phil Bywater - saxophone (2011)
- Palimpsest (1982)
- Sonic Investigations Of The Trivial (2003)
EPs and singles
- Sonic Investigations Of The Trivial - EP (1979)
- Talking To Cleopatra - single (1980)
- link to Chapter Music to purchase records
- Audio-interview with David Chesworth on the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre Tapes website.