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B(If)Tek

B(if)tek were one of Australia's most innovative electronic acts. As part of the Clan Analogue musician's collective, which also included the likes of Itch-E & Scratch-E, Dark Network, and Infusion, they created experimental music that was futuristic and retro at the same time. The duo consisted of Kate Crawford (aka k8), and Nicole Skeltys (aka single-cell), who described themselves as the Daphne and Velma of electronica. Their prankish, playful quality defined their music; they were known for wearing strange costumes, breaking into giggles, and drinking champagne during their sets. They also famously managed to obtain a grant from the Arts Council of Australia to study the effects of low frequencies on listeners, which they achieved by releasing a double album of minimalist dance music. In 1996, the two tech-heads of B(if)tek released their first album Sub-Vocal Theme Park, produced in a Canberra garage and released with the help of the appropriately named indie label Geekgirl. Shortly afterwards the two moved apart, Crawford heading north to Sydney while Skeltys went south to Melbourne. They continued collaborating by sending DAT tapes through the mail. The result was their next album 2020, released on the Sony imprint label Murmur in 2000. They chose the year 2020 as the year they believed a manned mission to Mars would be possible and conceived the album as a potential soundtrack for the astronauts of such a voyage to listen to. Among the songs was a cover of Cliff Richard's "Wired for Sound" with guest vocals by Julee Cruise. Years later, in 2008, Crawford would be invited to the Australia 2020 Summit to discuss shaping the country's future, though admittedly in her capacity as an associate professor of journalism and media research. From 2000 to 2003 the duo called themselves the B(if)tek Corporation and presented prizes for subversive electronic acts called the WINK Awards. Their own act of subversion was to use their arts council grant to fund their 2003 double album, Frequencies Will Move Together, which they released on their own Subvocal label. The tracks on the first disc were all recorded at low frequencies and made use of found-sound textures including the noises of cats purring and helicopter blades rotating. At one of two sold-out concerts held at the Sydney Opera House they performed an 11-minute sub-bass song that reputedly cured an audience member's tinnitus. The second disc contained remixes of the first by performers including Architecture in Helsinki and Monolake. After touring for Frequencies Will Move Together, Crawford and Skeltys went their separate ways. Crawford joined another electronic act called Clone and also pursued her academic career. Skeltys continued producing electronica under the name Artificial before radically swerving in the other direction by joining a country/folk band called Dust. ~ Jody Macgregor
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