Emergency Music, 2009

Originally released to coincide with Magic Dirt’s October Australian tour, White Boy has become something of a sad epitaph for this much-loved Melbourne rock band. The tragic passing of bassist and co-founder Dean Turner in late August took everybody by surprise, mostly the fans who were unaware of his condition, and by his bandmates who hoped his tireless enthusiasm and droning basslines would never stop.

With the lead track taken from their recent album Girl, White Boy brings together an odd selection of new, unreleased and rare material including duets with Gareth Liddiard of The Drones and Rowland S. Howard of the Birthday Party, both representing the new and old guard of Australian music. In fact, you could probably pair up vocalist and guitarist Adalita Srsen with almost any Australian singer of reasonable repute and the track would quickly turn into spun gold. The fact that she’s chosen two of the most enigmatic and unique men about Melbourne town shows as much about her taste in music as well as the musicians that inspire her.

“White Boy” is pure Magic Dirt noise terror. Not an obvious track to pull from the album, but as case study in ‘What is Magic Dirt?’ the answer lies within the lurching beat and bludgeoned riffs. The wistful gothic romance of “Summer High” has Adalita and Rowland S. Howard locked in a tender seasonal embrace and is perhaps one of the Dirt’s finest recorded moments. “Deep In A Net Of Red” and “Valley Of The Rose” are both melody-charged gems from the Girl sessions, that like “Summer High” seem wasted on this lucky-dip vault-clearing EP. Rounding out the disc are two tracks taken from their sold out tour EP of last year, The Drones meets Magic Dirt meets Neil Young‘s “Cortez the Killer“ with “Love Is The Armour” and the 10 minute rock deconstruction epic “Future Fuck”.

Having gamely soldiered on with a temporary bass player filling in for the October tour, and the future of Adalita’s solo album that Turner was producing with her thrown in doubt, what is to become of Magic Dirt is a little uncertain. With a work ethic that often resulted in non-stop touring and recording, you always got the feeling that Magic Dirt were building up to something career defining. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of them.