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Rainbow Generator

DESCRIPTION: Rainbow Generator (AKA The Generator) were a pioneering experimental electronic group from Australia consisting of David Labuschagne and Rob Greaves.


ACTIVITY PERIOD: 1976 - 2007

MUSIC GENRE: Experimental Electronic, Prog


RECORD COMPANIES / LABELS (Current & Past): Fission Chips [own Indie label] Finders Keepers in 2016: re-release of the 1981 double album, "Tranceformer by Krozier & The generator"

OFFICIAL WEB SITE: http://www.myspace.com/RainbowGenerator



Rainbow Generator is the name of Australia’s first true experimental electronic music group. Consisting of David Labuschagne (nee Mow) who is colloquially known as Mojo, and Rob Greaves who is known as Ras, the group has had had many other musicians contribute to their music but they were and remain the foundation members.

David’s musical background was very rich. Born in Zambia in 1948, he was exposed at a very early age to the black culture, particularly the music. Encouraged to undertake playing piano, he desperately wanted to learn Jazz but was forced to learn classical. By the time he arrived in Australia in the early 1960’s he had taught himself guitar and played an acoustic guitar. An aficionado of players such as Jango Reinhardt and Les Paul, it wasn’t until he heard Jimmy Hendrix in the mid sixties that he became completely taken by the electric guitar.

Rob on the other hand came from a family background that was largely devoid of music. Born in England in 1946 and emigrating to Australia in 1948, it wasn’t until his parents bought a radiogram in the late 1950’s that he was exposed to what was in Australia, a very pale imitation of Rock & Roll. However it was the instrumental sounds of surf music, particularly Dick Dale & the Deltones and the Surfaris that caught his imagination. By 1963 he had heard the Beatles first single on a railway station and by 1964 was playing guitar in his first band. By 1967, and many versions of the original band later (including The Sonics, Sound and Moppa Blues), he gave up guitar for the good of the music industry. However, he had also been introduced to the weird musical world of Musique Concrete – a style of early electronic music that also introduced him to Stockhausen and what he heard grabbed him and gave him a strong shaking.

In 1969 David and Rob met by chance and from that meeting a strong enduring friendship grew. Constantly surrounding themselves with popular and contemporary music in the main, David began to seriously play guitar once again around 1973. Armed with congas and bongo’s Rob began to accompany David, and during their travels around Australia, up and down the East Coast and across to West Australia, they met up with and played with a variety of musicians.

In 1975 David had begun to collect a small but effective range of guitar effects pedals, and listening to the sounds they made as well as the way the modified sound, the embryonic love for electronic music that Rob had buried deep began to surface. Thus their first recording, on cassette, was titled Sensuous Undercurrents of My Refrigerator and largely consisted of David on Fender Guitar with minimal effects pedals and Rob on congas and short wave radio. It was an experiment in free form composition.

The delight that was experienced in playing this ‘new form’ of music just goaded Rob on. Canvassing magazines he came across an advertisement for a kit synth, called a Gnome, by a company called PIA. Later in the year he purchased a PAIA Gnome in a kit form. The Gnome was a small single oscillator synthesiser. It has no keyboard but the frequency was controlled by either using a probe on a ribbon that ran the length of the synthesizer, or by rotary pot.

While this kit was on its way from the USA, on the spur of the moment, Rob walked into a large Melbourne Music store and purchased one of their first imported synthesisers, the Roland System 100, which was the first modular analogue synthesisers released in Australia.

This purchase came as a complete surprise to David, but not just taking it into his stride, within 48 hours of Rob taking delivery of his system, David was over and they began experimenting and recording immediately.

In 1976 the second cassette was recorded, titled ‘ROY G BIV’. Instrumentation consisted of the System 100. David’s Fender and growing bank of effects pedals, the Congas as well as the inside of a piano and a tympani. Parts of the music on the cassette were recorded from their first live performance in a small country hall, which had an audience of one. The remainder was recorded in the house Rob was living in where for one track, the entire contents of the kitchen cupboard were emptied and used.

The limitations of recording in their homes became very evident very quickly, and without hesitation David moved to Sydney in 1977, and very quickly was lucky enough to be introduced to a large 2-½-story factory in the middle of what were known as the Woolloomooloo Squats. The address? 155 Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo!

Hard work, much cleaning, with primitive but effective soundproofing it resulted in what became the legendary underground studio, the ‘Lectric Loo. To call it just a studio in fact was to do it a disservice. Over the years it became home to not just a recoding studio on the ground floor, but also an animation studio and a Tai Chi School (operated by David) and hosted many theatre performances, largely on the second floor.

The first vinyl recording, DANCE OF THE SPHERES, was conceived and recorded in the Lectric Loo.

Released on their own independent label of Fission*Chips, it was purely an expression of themselves, what they felt and what they needed to express. There was very little traditional composing, like most of the music that followed over the next 31 years, it was play it in real time, play together, play with each other, play across each other, play through, under, over, lead and follow. It is an exploration of sound that involved shaping sound and moving into a space that they would never have explored if they had been recording in a controlled environment, in the “classical recording studio”. The outcome is a groundbreaking album, which fused early electronics with guitar in a manner few had explored. The album featured, possibly for the first time, blending the traditional indigenous instrument – the didgeridoo, with synthesisers, and experimental processing, resulting in a haunting aural landscape.

However, while they were not looking for it, vindication that they were breaking new ground and doing it well came when they entered an international electronic music competition hosted by the Roland Corporation. They entered two tracks, one under David’s name and one under Robs – but both tracks were from the DOTS album. Among the distinguished judges was an icon of contemporary electronic music, Isao Tomita. Not so much to their surprise, but certainly to their delight, they won first prize in Class B (The most innovative electronic composition) for the track ‘Polyploid Spex’.

There was just the two of them but this was never seen as a problem, in fact after a while they found it easier to keep it to just the two of them. Innovation, experimentation, ignoring the classical rules of music, finding their limits, the limits of their instruments, the limits of their processing gear and recording gear, and, then pushing those limits. Total freedom to make mistakes and not be criticised. These were only the rules. In the end, they developed to a stage where they could anticipate each other’s musical paths; they could supplement and complement each other’s playing.

By 1978 -79 the variety and quantity of instruments and recoding gear had grown. By now Rob was using a variety of Roland synthesisers, in addition to the System 100 and Gnome, he had an SH7 and the Roland keyboard Vocoder/Hamonizer – the VP550. David had now joined the synthesiser club having purchased a Roland System 100M, an ARP and a local machine, an International 4600. But a very interesting development was in regard to the purchase of a Roland GR500. The GR500 was a Les Paul styled guitar that hooked up to a traditional type synthesizer complete with sliders, etc. This unit was monophonic and the 24 pin cable was wired differently than the next generation of guitar synths. In David’s words, it certainly came out with some very interesting sounds – but was a bastard to use!

However, the penchant to play together did not mean that they never shared their music with other musicians, or played with other musicians and their style of music. David played with many musicians over the years, and in a number of bands but always returned to the Generator as his number one love.

Many people came to the ‘lectric Loo, fondly called the “Loo” and played, some contributed to recorded music, some just jammed. Tor Davis, Damien Burnett and Naomi Leggo featured on the release, Dance Of The Spheres. Other well known musicians/artists to work with the Generator at the ‘Loo included Keith Casey (percussionist from the iconic Aussie group Ayers Rock), Peter Thin Carolan (keyboardist who went onto join Gondwanaland) and a man whom they became close to, in fact they became brothers in many ways, Geoff Krozier (nee Crozier).

Rob and David met Geoff in Melbourne late in 1980. Within two weeks of the meeting they formed Krozier and the Generator. Fusing Kroziers utter madness with the Generator ‘Off the Planet” music – was a mix that was waiting to happen. There were ten live performances between 13 June and 25 October. Some of these performances were recorded on cassette and were revived on CD as part of the archiving of the music.

For Live performances, drummer, Michael Buckingham, joined David, Rob and Geoff. Appropriate rehearsal space was always a problem, not just because of the volume of music but also because rehearsal space also became where Geoff lived, as wherever he went, so did his chooks, turkey, duck and occasional dove, along with many, many trunks of costumes, props, potions and other paraphernalia.

In the end, David made the recommendation that they pack the whole thing up and move to the “Loo” studio, where he had the space, where they could continue to rehearse for both live performances and for an album release of their combined material. So it came to pass that the entire support crew of five, the four of them and all their combined equipment ended up in Woolloomooloo. There were three weeks of rehearsals before the crew, Geoff and Rob returned to Melbourne, with intention of reforming back at the studio’s for a full on tour and recording session toward the middle of the year.

On the 17th May 1981, Geoff passed away, an unfortunate victim of his own lifestyle and circumstances. Distressed, dismayed, in fact quite guttered over Geoff’s death, David and Rob were determined to pay due respect to Geoff and the 12 months they had together, by releasing an album of their music with Geoff’s vocals.

With the musical assistance of master percussionist, Keith Casey and engineer genius Barry Wolifson, David set about assembling material from the January performances that were put down either for future reference purposes when rehearsals began again, or for personal entertainment.

It required a lot of production and engineering work, and some overdubbing, but the resultant double LP titled, TRANCEFORMER, resulted in an album that provides an insight into where the group was progressing, and certainly represents a good cross-section of the material that was being used. It remains the only known vinyl work featuring Geoff.

Years later, when the technology became sophisticated and affordable, Rob worked on other material that had been archived on cassette and this resulted in a CD titled KROZIER’S CRUSADE. Consisting of out-takes, pieces of live performances, unfinished work and humorous moments, whilst it cannot measure up to the technical or musical finish of TRANCEFORMER, it non the less provides a further insight into the group as a whole and it’s individual members.

The album was re released almost 25 years later by Finders Keepers Records in the UK.

Finally progress caught up and after five years of operating as underground studio/theatre David was forced to close when the Department of Mains Roads (who owned the property) began making redevelopment murmurs and the area became more and more violent. David and Rob relocated to the small mid-north coast township of Bellingen, although David lived in an even small area called Thora and Rob in the Kalang Valley. David then set up the Never Never Studio on a property he purchased. Unfortunately, living on a large property where the bush continually threatened to take back it’s own, and other distractions meant that the music didn’t get the attention it had in previous years.

In a further unfortunate event, the best recordings that were completed at the Never Never Studio were lost in the USA, when David departed on an exploratory trip in 1987. A few cassettes represented the only known recordings from this period, and parts of the tracks were resurrected by Rob and appear on a later CD under the name of the MoonRockers.

David and Rob continued to play together and make recordings right through to 2008. Following their departure from the mid-north coast of New South Wales toward the end of the 1980’s, David opened his next studio in a small room in LaTrobe University, where he was studying for a musical qualification and in doing so operated the smallest studio in Australia – his room, where there was so much equipment that on entering the room, the only place to really stand or sit, was his bed.

Following completion of his studies he opened a studio in Fitzroy, Melbourne, titled Bus Stop Studios. Noise was a problem that was never successfully overcome, and after a short stay in this location, he moved to Bouverie Street Carlton, an inner Melbourne suburb. Here he established the Radio*Galaxy Studio.

For a number of years this became the focus of much music making, and resulted in David releasing two CD’s of his own compositions. The first, titled SYNTHONY was commissioned as suite based upon the myth of the Quest for the Holy Grail. Neoclassical in style, SYNTHONY is unusual in David’s opus for extensive use of imitative synthesis. The second release is titled DIGITAL DREAMING and is a futuristic set of pieces using extensive digital synthesis with algorhythmic compositions, as well as the use of MIDI guitar.

This resulted in a series of live performances at the 1995 Fringe Festival. The show was titled Digital Dreaming and celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Fission*Chips, David’s independent recording label.

By now their combined musical equipment had become overwhelming. They had an extensive collection of analogue synthesisers; based upon voltage controlled subtractive synthesis; ring modulation; vocoding and sample & hold techniques. In addition there had been a growing list of digital synthesisers, using FM techniques; digital wave generation; wave sequencing; table look up; sample playback and modification; harmonizing and re-synthesis techniques. It looked great and allowed for many excellent recording sessions, but was just getting to big in volume and to heavy to allow for live gigging.

Not long after with the further development of computers, initially David was using an Atari with Notator and Logic music programs, they began to make more and more use of computer based music generation and manipulation, although this mainly came about in the next studio, called, The Zoo.

The Zoo was established in the same suburb as Radio*Galaxy – Carlton. With the introduction of several Apple Mac computers between them, and a full digital drum kit, it proved to be a good move as it provided them with fresh impetuous and enthusiasm. The end result is the CD titled ABOUT TIME, recorded over two years it was released in 2008 and is in fact the last and final release by them as The Generator.

Late in 2007 David moved overseas, while Rob is hidden away in Belgrave, Victoria - where he continues to compose and record using a battery of Macs, USB keyboards and a range of high end music software.

Between 2008 and 2016 he has recorded two CD's of contemporary electronic music, and two CD's of classical/symphonic music.




Parent Catagory Page Links: Music Artists / Outfits - Australia

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