Exploring Brisbane's electronic music history with the BNE Project

A concise and thorough documentation of Brisbane's electronic music history. And a must-have coffee table book for music culture fans Australia (and world) wide.

Exploring Brisbane's electronic music history with the BNE Project

The BNE Project, created by Trans:Com founder Dennis Remmer, is a remarkable endeavor that celebrates 35 years of independent electronic music production in Brisbane, Australia, spanning from 1979 to 2014. The project is a testament to the city's vibrant electronic music scene, featuring over 140 bands and artists and more than 260 tracks.

The project so far

The project was initially started to celebrate Trans:Com's 20th anniversary and has since evolved into a comprehensive archive of Brisbane's electronic music history. The result is a beautifully packaged coffee table-style book and a unique music archive on a custom USB device. This collection is available in a strictly limited edition, making it a valuable resource for enthusiasts and researchers alike. You can grab copies from the Trans:Com website and find the music side of it on Bandcamp.

When Remmer describes the effort to create this project as "a massive undertaking", he's understating the sheer amount of work in wrangling so many people. Myself and my friends included. Quite how he did so, independently and with a labour of love rather than commercial intent, is astounding. But as he says in his own words, well worth the effort.

"Brisbane has always been a unique and sometimes challenging place for artistic endeavour, particularly with respect to our city’s social, political and geographic context", Remmer states. "BNE captures the spirit of true innovation in the modern art form that is electronic music. There are some wonderful stories in BNE, but most importantly there is a lot of amazing music".

The project in the future

Trans:Com has also embarked on a long-term initiative, following the BNE project, to re-release long unavailable electronic music productions from Brisbane's finest innovators of techno, electro, and other genres of electronic music. This initiative, known as Phase 2 of the BNE Archive, was released on May 21, 2021, and features reissues from some of Brisbane's early electronic musicians, including Vision Four 5 (a member of which would become an unsung hero to many of us that he booked onto the Big Day Out festival's Boiler Room stage), Stormboy (who was one of the first and most intense Acid House producers in Brisbane), and Jandy Rainbow.

Some personal thoughts

I read through the physical copy after seeing it on the shelf of a friend who was one of the founders of Statler & Waldorf, who are profiled in the book, and who I was a collaborator with. It made me smile to see how well the Trans:Com team documented this era, as these are quite simply most of our immediate and extended community over the decades that we were actively making, touring, performing, or otherwise supporting music in and around Brisbane. It's a remarkable thing to see.

I do have to admit that I missed the deadline for including Segue, despite the team reaching out more than a few times. I was living in France when this was being organised, and focused on the SaaS company I had started in true obsessive startup founder fashion. But flicking through the book I see myself in the lineup of D-KO (our press photo was taken in the old theatre next to the Fortitude Valley train station), as well as across a bunch of other bands I played in (Superfluid, Silent Shadow, and some other bands not starting with "S" for once). A strange feeling to see documented what was equal parts fun and serious effort.

This slice of one's life captured in such a format is interesting not for the sense of self, but the sense of the collective effort. "We did that", is a surprisingly unifying feeling. And to think of it as an ephemeral activity, of picking up the influences and inspirations of those that came before us, and passing that to the next to follow, is perhaps even a healthy exercise to both honour the collective activity, and not hang on to it. I really admire what Trans:Com have done here, in capturing a history to act as a waypoint, and helping direct the energy of those who are stepping up next to do bigger and better things.

Get yourself a copy and dive into the culture

In this way the BNE Project is more than just a collection of music; it's a journey through time, a testament to the city's rich musical history, and a tribute to the artists who have shaped Brisbane's electronic music scene. It's a project that not only celebrates the past but also inspires the future, ensuring that Brisbane's electronic music legacy continues to thrive and evolve.