Clinton Green (b.1972) is a researcher, curator and performer of Australian experimental music.
Short bio (March 2016)
Clinton Green makes something akin to music. Formerly recording under the moniker of Undecisive God, Clinton has been active in Australian experimental music since the 1990s as a recording and performing artist, curator, facilitator, writer and researcher. He has worked with unconventional approaches to guitars, turntables and found objects as tools for new forms of musical expression. He also works with dancers, theatre and performance artists in improvised collaborative situations. Clinton runs the Shame File Music label and writes on/researches historical and contemporary aspects of Australian experimental music. He completed a residency in Taiwan in 2015, which included site recordings and performances with Chun-liang Liu (who works with Green as the duo Moe Chee), and workshops on experimental music practice and the art of listening.
His current interests and pursuits include: multi-disciplinary improvised (often durational) actions in unconventional locations (such as public space); incorporation of text into improvised performance; the composition of structured improvisational situations; the Improv Idol talent show/improvisation lab with Carmen Chan; collaborative improvised site-specific performances/ceremonies with Ren Walters and Michael McNab; ongoing performance of Carmen Chan’s If I Am A Musical Thinker multimedia piece.
Long bio (updated February 2015)
Green grew up in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. As a teenager, his most influential musical experiences came from the local hardcore punk scene. The DIY ethos of making your own music, publications and events had a lasting influence on Green that has endured even as his musical interest moved beyond the punk genres. He co-founded a fanzine based on the local scene called M4, which published 17 issues from 1990 to 1995.
His first musical venture was a short-lived affair called KAOS, which consisted of amateurishly-recorded noisecore covers of glam metal songs, and extended noise improvisations (Green rotated between distorted bass, shouted vocals and drums). Even though Green’s musical output would be very punk-focussed for several years, KAOS showed his very early interest in freeform noise. He formed a more standard hardcore punk band called Punchbag with his KAOS and M4 offsider, Kevin Ryan, in 1991. Green basically taught himself to play electric guitar whilst playing in Punchbag, his main instrument for the next 17 years. The band played about 30 gigs around Melbourne before splitting at the end of 1993. Earlier that year, Green took up the bass again to join NeTE, which had formerly been the solo recording project of Wayne Duncan. Duncan and Green recorded and performed as a duo for about 18 months (a guitarist joined to create a trio for their final gig). NeTE was probably Green’s most exploratory musical outing yet, running a gamut of styles from industrial to gothic.
Although Duncan was the driving creative force behind NeTE, in retrospect this was an influential time in Green’s musical development. As early as 1992, Green had begun recording ambient and noise-orientated guitar improvisations at home on a walkman under the tentative moniker of Undecisive God (a phrase he’d misread in Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf), and it was on a 4-track portastudio borrowed from Duncan in 1994 that he recorded the material that made up most of the tracks for the first two Undecisive God cassette releases (The Difference Between Light and Shadow and The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge). Issued on Green’s own Shame File Music cassette label (which Green has founded in the early 1990s to release a cassette by KAOS and several other tapes), these early cassettes represent the project’s primary focus upon abstract guitar-based sound. Yet Undecisive God’s output was at that stage restricted to a solitary home recording environment with minimal distribution. Green formed another band called Kill with former Punchbag bassist, Mark Hodges, and Jason Dutton (ex-Christbait) on drums. The trio played for a couple of years in the mid-1990s, focussing on increasingly complex song structures and time signatures, influenced by the likes of Shellac and The Mark of Cain, but made little impact on audiences.
The late 1990s saw Green take a hiatus from music. Even though a couple more Undecisive God cassettes were released on Shame File Music (in 1996 and 1999), these were largely made up of recordings from the 1994/1995 sessions that had yielded the first two cassettes, and had negligible distribution. Green was focussing his creative energies on writing fiction during this time (he has published several short stories, a novella and a novel), as well as his day job and starting a family. He did not begin recording again until he acquired a 4-track portastudio in 2000, which began a flurry of new Undecisive God recordings initially released on tape, and then on CDR beginning with 2001’s self-titled release, again on Shame File Music. From this time, Green began giving occasional live solo guitar performances as Undecisive God. These performances were relatively rare until later in the decade, but they marked the beginning of a less solitary artistic journey, which also included several collaborative projects that evolved over the next decade with sound artists including Andrew McIntosh (Screwtape),W.I.T., Zac Keiller, Scott Sinclair, Zan Hoffman and others.
2003’s Offering album marked the change from 4-track portastudio to digital recording and mixing, which continued throughout the decade as the default recording environment for Undecisive God material. Offering is perhaps the opus of ambient/drone guitar work for Undecisive God; post-Offering, releases began to explore different timbrel territory, including harsh noise (on 2004’s Border Protection Policy), aleatoric field recording (on 2005’s A Year of Silence), and cleaner recordings of electric guitar sans effects and focussed on live improvisational technique (on 2007’s Everything’s Broken).
In 2007, Green began working with turntables playing shards of broken records, initially as chaotic/dynamic generators of improvisatory material with which he would improvise on guitar simultaneously (as on 2007’s Duos for Guitar and Broken Records mini CD). Green became much more focussed on various approaches to turntables to the point where guitar became increasingly-less present in his musical output (2011’s Finnegans Wake mini CD/download contains his most significant guitar output of recent years). From 2010, Green began performing live more regularly, predominantly with turntables (with up to three at a time). He designed a compositional structure called “RPMs” which he often performed, and has recorded and released several versions of this series, documenting his evolving approach to turntables. “RPMs 5” and “RPMs 6” (on the RPMs 5-6-7 CD) marked a further departure from more traditional turntablism, with little involvement from records (intact or otherwise) at all; instead, objects are introduced to the turntable as percussive rogue elements. Green’s 2011 turntable performances (including his first installation, at the Melbourne International Jazz Festivals Overground event) saw a growing use of turntables as dynamic percussive and rhythmic generators. Most recently, Undecisive God performances have been with ‘acoustic turntables’ (i.e. – the turntables are not plugged into speakers; the sound of objects on the turntable becomes the sonic focus, aided by strategically-placed microphones) with more emphasis on visual performance elements (demonstrated in Green’s 2011 Rogue Elements video). He has increasingly performed in duos and trios with other local improvisers, in an effort to explore the improvisational possibilities of his turntable preparations in the group dynamic.
Green’s Shame File Music label has also developed through the 2000’s from a boutique microlabel to a significant hub of Australian experimental music interest, with a specialisation in documenting the history of experimental music in Australia. Shame File Music’s first significant release in this area was the online reissuing of the seminal NMATAPES (2006), followed by 2007’s landmark Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music: 1930-1973 compilation CD, uncovering for the first time in several instances previously-lost recordings of early Australian experimental music. Shame File Music has also released and reissued historical works by artists including Arthur Cantrill, Ernie Althoff and Jack Ellitt, as well as a follow-up to Artefacts in 2010 (Artefacts of Australian Experimental Music volume II: 1974-1983). Green was awarded Australia Council for the Arts grants for both Artefacts projects, giving testament to their cultural value. This developing speciality in Shame File Music’s release schedule sits beside Green’s more academically-aligned research into Melbourne experimental music history and his publication of several articles (including some in peer-reviewed journal) on the topic.
In January 2012, two decades after the project’s first recording, Green announced he would be phasing out the “Undecisive God” moniker and continue working under his own name. His music and performances over recent years have seen more emphasis on percussive aspects of turntables and found objects (he muses that he is attempting to become a percussionist by stealth), along with explorations of theatricality in performance. 2014 saw his collaborative work extend beyond work with musicians, to theatre performances and work with dancers and performance artists. He performed and played music for Elnaz Sheshgelani’s play The Birds Conference and formed an ongoing duo with Taiwanese performing artist and more-than-a-dancer, Chun-liang Liu, called 默契 (Moe Chee).