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Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Indie rock
Post punk
Neo-progressive rock
Years active 2006 - present
Labels Mosquito's Tweeter / Inertia Distribution (AUS only) / Miasma
Website Official site
Official Myspace
Josh Quinn-Watson (vocals, keyboard, loops)
Alex Cameron (guitar, loops)
Cayn Borthwick (bass, vocals)
Mitch McGregor (drums)
Former members
James Nicholson (bass)

Dardanelles are a four-piece indie rock band from Melbourne, Australia formed in early 2006. Often incorrectly labelled or billed as "The Dardanelles", they are named after the narrow strait in northwestern Turkey of the same name.



The founding four members met during university after moving to Melbourne from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Geelong and shortly afterwards formed the band.

After streaming their first recordings online, they were signed to a Sydney-based label who co-opted the songs to form half of the debut EP of the same name. Released in November 2006 to critical acclaim, it spawned the single Origami Tree which spent at least 5 weeks in the top 10 of the Australian Alternative Radio Play Chart.[1] A second single, "Of Course You Said", was released later that year alongside remixes by Riot in Belgium and others. "Of Course You Said" and the Origami Tree (Coda) deconstruction that appeared on the EP were recorded six months after the other songs on the disc, and foreshadowed a move into more spatial, experimental and electronic territory.

Their debut album Mirror Mirror, released in October 2007, continued the move away from garden variety post-punk towards something more filmic in scope. Widely seen as a departure from their guitar focused debut EP, it took sections of their fanbase and the music industry alike by surprise, and aroused a passionated critical response.

It was variously flagged in the domestic music press as "the finest Australian album of 2007 bar none"[2], "A seminal record"[3], 'Flat-out outstanding.... epoch-making', and "the most ambitious record of the year" [4]. The single Footsteps was subsequently released via iTunes and received heavy rotation on Triple J, Australian community radio, and one of the United States' largest indie station. In the week of its release, it was the second most added track to alternative radio in Australia behind Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

After several re-pressings, the album was reissued in 2008 with a second disc featuring 8 bonus tracks. The band are currently working on their second album, mentioning that it'll be a departure from their previous work.


Critical recognition

In March 2008, Mirror Mirror was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize, alongside the Devastations, Architecture in Helsinki, New Buffalo and eventual winners the Mess Hall. [5]. The album had been previously shortlisted for the QANTAS Spirit of Young Australia Music Prize. The Inpress music-critics poll ranked "Mirror Mirror" at #6 in its year-end list, surpassing Radiohead, as well as being one of only two Australian albums on the list.

In November 2006, Dardanelles were added as Triple J's "Next Crop" feature artists and also made the iTunes "Band to Watch in 2007" list. Most recently, they were selected for Australia's first "JD set" in 2008.

Live shows

The quartet are renowned for their hyper-kinetic live performances, in which they frequently reinterpret, expand or combine their recorded output. Music journalists describe their live persona as "a frenetic mass of addictive and schizophrenic sonic madness".[6] They have also played or toured with the likes of Who Made Who, The 1990s, Crystal Castles, Ratatat, The Howling Bells, The Shocking Pinks, Dappled Cities Fly, Cut Copy, and the Midnight Juggernauts.

Live festival's include "Pyramid Rock Festival", Phillip Island, Sydney's "Field Day", "The Playground Weekender", Canberra's "Trackside" and the "Essential Festival" in Melbourne and Sydney. In addition they have toured nationally, playing in all Australian capital cities and internationally at events including the "In the City Festival", Manchester.

Musical style

"Dardanelles is a place of transformation. It's scarred by the past – a theatre of the Trojan and first World Wars, and the campaigns of Xerxes I and Alexander – but its ongoing physical beauty slaps mankind's lust for a longer shadow in the face. And the failure at Gallipoli, instead of remaining an open wound, is trumpeted as the birthplace of the Australian identity. Transforming sore spots into celebration is something we aim for in music. We want people to bounce to music with a dark bloodline".

— Frontman Josh Quinn on the rationale behind the bands name.[7]

Ghostly vocals and darkly subdued interludes grafted against bursts of noise amount to a certain degree of difficulty in pinpoint the genre of Dardanelles, who blend elements of punk, electronica, dance and pop into a distinct variant of art rock. The music press have likened elements of their sound to contemporaries Liars and TV on the Radio, as well tribal-era Cure material, Can, The Creation Records stable, psychedelic 80s Northern England outfits such as The Chameleons, aspects of first-wave Detroit-tech and, frequently, to Joy Division.

The band has a demonstrated contempt for genre, with Quinn-Watson claiming "genres are quicksand, so we write songs blind to genre walls".[8]

The band members deeply interested in groove-driven music as the basis of their song-writing, and as an anchor for their excursions into atmospherics. As guitarist Alex Cameron explains "we’ve layered the recordings with backing vocals and noise that more reflects our live show".[9] The sheer inability to categorise their sound has resulted in frustrated music journalists resorting to inventing new genres suck as "post-crunk-nu-rave", "industrial gospel/industrial pastoral" and "neu-gaze". The band neither condone nor deny such titles.

Lyrics and themes

The subject matter of the band's lyrics is a layered and ambiguous as their haunting sonic landscape. With the EP, the lyrics tended towards shadow and dislocation, with Josh Quinn-Watson claiming "the content of our songs is always cathartic – subjects which haunt or inspire us, or both".[8]. With the EP, there was a focus on intentionally contrasting the tone of lyrics and music, a move Quinn-Watson described as akin to "subliminal advertising" [8]. They abandoned this technique with the album, where both music and lyrics shared a dreamy, Borgesian quality.

On the "Mirror Mirror" LP, the lyrics had a more surreal tinge, seemingly aimed at accumulating impressionistic detail to the sonic landscape. Childhood and dreaming are common lyrical threads, reflecting an interest in the philosophy of André Breton and others.


Despite sounding not at all like Bob Dylan, he did spark the bands initial interest in music and they draw a great deal from his chameleonic approach to his art. Other influences cited by various band members include Avant-Classical pioneers Terry Riley and John Cage, the soundtrack work of Phillip Glass and Vangelis, German experimentalists Cluster, Kraftwerk, Can and Popol Vuh, Brian Eno's solo work and collaborations, Australians The Triffids, The Birthday Party, and Bob Fisher and the Renegades, and the Factory Records' production values.[7]





Year Song EP Album Chart
2007 Origami Tree Dardanelles
Of Course You Said
Footsteps Mirror Mirror



  1. ^ [1] Mosquito's Tweeter
  2. ^ [2] Album review from Rip it Up Magazine
  3. ^ [3] Album review from Beat Magazine
  4. ^ [4] Profile in 3D World magazine
  5. ^ [5] Article in The Sydney Morning Herald
  6. ^ [6] "In the Mix" review
  7. ^ a b [7] "Post-crunk nu-rave: Dardanelles" by Dimitri Kalagas
  8. ^ a b c [8] PBS 106.7 FM biography
  9. ^ [9] "The Dardanelles Campaign" article at "Mess and Noise"

See also

External links


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