Somehow, at the very end of the 90s, I got in contact with Way Over There records, who sent a couple of things to me. That they had already sent the radio station some things in previous years was something I discovered later, and what I discovered later was the first two albums by J Walker, aka Machine Translations. Before I found these, what they sent me was his third album, Holiday In Spain. And on it was this glorious track.
This was before Machine Walker got big, for whatever value you give bigness to regular play on Triple J. Before Amnesia, Poor Circle, A Most Perculiar Place and the other great tunes. Holiday In Spain as an album showed an artist on the cusp between gloriously ramshackled DIY and slickly recorded quirk. Way Over There for a bit of a distro deal with BMG at this time, and maybe a little of the money flowed into production. Even if not, Walker had honed his skills perfectly. He was already known for producing other Australian acts and now he turned his skills fully onto is own songs.
Out To Sea became a regular on my radio show – often as a closer. The halting nonsense lyrics, the wide-eyed sadness in the strings, the guitar tearing at it all. This song had coda written all over it even though it wasn’t the last song on the album. Considering Australian Indie/Alternate was going stale (in some corners) around this time, this song was blessed relief.
Machine Translations would promptly sign for a bigger label, but Way Over There didn’t survive. The home of Disaster Plan, Wally Gun, Mississippi Barry and the Snuff Puppet Band ran out of money and time. It was a sad death but not the first label nor the last to go but sad nonetheless making Out To Sea the perfect coda for them, too.
Hear the song here.