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Rob Greaves

RAINBOW GENERATOR (AKA The Generator)

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RAINBOW GENERATOR(AKA The Generator)
“The untold story of Australia’s first, and longest operating Experimental Electronic Group.”

This is the story not just about what might be Australia’s first experimental electronic music group, but is also about the people associated with it, and the music that was produced over an amazing 36 year period.

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 myself, Rob Greaves who is also known as Ras. Over the years the group has had a number of other musicians join for various projects, but David and I were the foundation members and the core two members who saw The Generator through from the beginning to the end.

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 both in the villages as well as in the clubs. Encouraged to undertake playing piano, he desperately wanted to learn Jazz but was forced to learn Classical piano, where the ruler was applied liberally to the knuckles. Realising that playing classical piano what not for him, by the time he arrived in Australia in the early 1960’s, he had taught himself to play acoustic guitar. Starting with folk music and being influenced by Jango Reinhardt and Les Paul, it took his introduction to Jimmy Hendrix in the mid sixties to become completely enamoured by the electric guitar. It was then that he purchased a Fender Stratocaster. That particular Strat remained as his main guitar for his entire musical career.

On the other hand I came from a family background that was largely devoid of music. Born in England in 1946 and emigrating to Australia in 1949, it wasn’t until my parents bought a radiogram in the late 1950’s that I was exposed to what was in Australia, a very pale imitation of Rock & Roll. However in the early 1960’s it was the instrumental sounds of surf music, particularly Dick Dale & The Deltones and the English sound of The Shadows. Both styles caught my imagination. In 1963 I was waiting for a train at a station, when I heard for the very first time, the Beatles and their first single. This had an instant and lasting impact upon me! By 1964 I was playing guitar in my first band. By 1966 that original band had undergone many name changes and personal. Some of its name changes included “The Sonics”, "The Sound” and, “The Moppa Blues”).

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The Sound 1965 at Edithvale, Melbourne
[Left to right: Les Taylor, Mick Elliot, Rob Greaves, John Sullivan]


By 1967, I’d given up guitar for the good of the music industry. Guitar wasn’t my instrument, and although I had a wonderful reacquaintance with the guitar almost 40 years later – at that time I wasn’t sure what my instrument was. Now, I had the opportunity of mixing with some of Melbourne’s great blues musicians and music aficionados, where I was introduced the world of both the Delta and Chicago Blues, to Soul, and from there a broad range of music and styles, including the maestro, Jimi Hendrix. I also played alongside such musicians as Mick Elliott, Snowy “Cutmore” Townshend, John Sullivan and Mark Barnes, learning as they learned. However, it was through Mark that I was introduced to the weird musical world of Musique Concrete – a style of early electronic music that also introduced me to Stockhausen. What I heard grabbed me and gave him me strong shaking.

In 1969 David and I met by chance, he was hitchhiking in Melbourne and I stopped and picked him up. From that chance meeting a strong and enduring friendship grew. Constantly surrounding our selves with an incredibly broad spectrum of music from the polyrhythmic sounds of African and the harsh but curious sounds of German electronic music, through the works of Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, we revelled in all that we were exposing ourselves to. In 1973 David decided to begin to seriously play guitar once again, and I, armed with congas and bongo’s, accompany David and during our travels up and down the East Coast of Australia and across to West Australia, we met up with and played with, a variety of musicians.

By 1973 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 I had buried deep began to surface. Then in 1974 came our first recording, on cassette, and it was titled Sensuous Undercurrents of My Refrigerator and largely consisted of David on Fender Guitar with minimal effects pedals, and myself on congas and short wave radio, an echo unit, and manipulation of our voices. It was an experiment in free form composition.

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Sensuous Undercurrents of My Refrigerator: Charles Opens the Door

The delight that was experienced in playing this ‘new form’ of music just goaded me on. Canvassing magazines in very early in 1976 I came across an advertisement for a kit synthesiser – a ‘build it yourself job, called a Gnome, by a company that went by the name of PAIA. Later in the year I purchased a PAIA Gnome in a kit form and set about assembling it. 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.

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The PAIA Gnome, circa 1976

However, while this kit was on its way from the USA, and on the spur of the moment, I walked into Brashes Melbourne Music store and instantly fell in love with one of their latest acquisitions and ended up buying, on the spot, one of their first imported synthesisers. This was the Roland System 100, which was among the first modular analogue synthesiser released in Australia.

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The Roland System 100

This purchase came as a complete surprise to David, but instantly recognising the importance of this purchase jumped into the new world that was opening up without hesitation. Within 48 hours of me taking delivery of this system, David was over at my house and we began experimenting and recording immediately.

So in 1976 we recorded our second cassette, titled ‘ROY G BIV’ (which if you haven’t caught on, are the first letters of each colour of the alphabet). 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. Now parts of the music on this cassette came from a recording of our first performance in a small country hall in Panton Hills, just outside of Melbourne. The fact that we only had an audience of one didn’t deter us one bit, it was crude, it was weird, but we loved it!

Within days of getting home we were recorded in the house I was living in. For one track, we emptied out the entire contents of the kitchen cupboard, dumped them on the lounge room floor, and recorded ourselves playing the pots, pans and assorted cooking implements at differing speeds, using a crude form of multi-tracking on a cassette player. Experimentation was what we sought, and it was something that never ceased to be a focus over the next 36 years. What was very important, we had decided that we really were now forming a two-man group. So it was that in the first half of 1976 we formalised our electronic music relationship that had begun the previous year and “Rainbow Generator” was born.

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[AUDIO CLIP: Kitchen Capers.mp3]

Kitchen Capers from ROY G BIV

The limitations of recording in the house became very evident, and just as quickly and without hesitation David moved to Sydney. The year was 1977. He was fortunate in being directed to Woolloomooloo, where he found a large unoccupied 2 storey factory, in the middle of what was known as the Woolloomooloo Squats. The address? 155 Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo!

With a lot of hard work, with much cleaning, painting, rewiring, and 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 a number of theatre performances, largely on the second floor.

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David entering the ‘Lectric Loo – his studio and home circa 1978

The ‘Lectric Loo studio soon gave rise to the first vinyl recording by Rainbow Generator, DANCE OF THE SPHERES.

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The front cover and silk-screened inner cover of Dance Of The Spheres 1979

Having the space, the necessary playing equipment a four-track recorder and with boundless enthusiasm, the music poured forth. As a result in 1978 we had assembled a series of radically different tracks, which demanded to be put onto vinyl. And so it was that Dance Of The Spheres was created.

Released on our own independent label of Fission*Chips, it was purely an expression of us. It was a statement of what we felt and what we needed to express. There was very little traditional composing, like most of the music that followed over the next 36 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 we had been recording in a controlled environment, in the “classical recording studio”.

In many ways there were no rules governing the composing and playing with electronic instruments. Oh yes, many bands were using synthesisers in a vain attempt to mimic other instruments – but they were doing a fair to very poor job. It wasn’t until the advent of digital synthesis that they could successfully achieve that outcome. But WHY try? Why bother? These babies were waiting to be used as instruments in their own right. In many ways it was time to take the early concepts of Musique Concrete and accelerate them into the 21st Century. The rules of conventional composing did not need to apply, and taking the music from the ‘earth’ to the ‘stratosphere’ was where it was at, something the Floyd had tried and moved away from into a more (and successful and lucrative) traditional composing. Only Jimi Hendrix had succeeded, and he used guitar!

The outcome was a groundbreaking album, which fused early electronics with guitar in a manner few musicians anywhere 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.


The album was ours, from beginning to end. We played, we recorded, we produced. David designed and did the artwork. The covers were printed using silk-screen, and the results were stunning, both visually and to the ear. The only real assistance came from local audio Engineer (and genius), Barry Wolifson.

However, while we were not seeking it, vindication that we were breaking new ground and doing it uniquely and well, came when we entered an international electronic music competition hosted by the Roland Corporation. We entered two tracks, one under David’s name and one under mine – 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 our surprise, but certainly to our delight, we won first prize in Class B (The most original electronic composition) for the track ‘Polyploid Spex’.

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Rob in repose in the ‘Lectric Loo Studio, circa 1979

There was just the two of us but this was never seen as a problem, in fact from the beginning we found it easier to keep it to just the two of us. Innovation, experimentation, ignoring the classical rules of composing music, finding our limits, the limits of our instruments, the limits of our processing gear and the recording gear, and, then pushing those limits past the boundaries was a daily ritual. Total freedom to make mistakes and not be criticised. These were only the rules. In the end, we developed to a stage where we could anticipate each other’s musical paths; we could supplement and compliment each other’s playing, and it was pure unadulterated fun.

Mind you, not everyone would agree that it was good, or fun. There was one night when we decided it was time to really see, or rather hear, just how loud we could be. We turned up everything, including the amplification to a massive bass bin that was around a cubic meter in size, I believe David called it the A4 base bin. Well we ‘rocked’. 80 plus years of dust rained down from the timber roof, the guttering along a wall that led into a courtyard fell off. We played on! Eventually, fearing for our sanity, we backed off, to be confronted by a strange unexplained external noise. David went upstairs to where there was a window overlooking the lane at the back of the studio. What he saw was a man sobbing as he thrashed at the wall with a piece of two by four in frustration. OK, so not everybody liked our music at that volume!

By 1979 the variety and quantity of instruments and recoding gear had grown. By now I was using a variety of Roland synthesisers, in addition to the System 100 and Gnome, I had a Roland SH7 and the Roland keyboard Vocoder/Hamonizer – the VP550 and an electronic drum machine. 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 synthesisers, but on this early experimental model was probably the cause of much of its problems. In David’s words, it certainly came out with some very interesting sounds – but was a bastard to use!

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The Roland GR500 – more than a guitar, it certainly took more than an understanding of how to play a guitar, to use it.

However, the penchant to play together did not mean that they never shared our music with other musicians, or played with other musicians, including at times, non-electronic 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.

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One view of part of the studio, never conventional in its set-up, it was never meant for conventional music. Circa 1979

Many people came to the ‘Lectric Loo, fondly called the “Loo”, some to play music and contributing to recording sessions, whilst other just came to jam. Other visitors came to bear witness to the amazing shows we put on. The man who assisted most in the recording was Wunderkind, Barry Wolifson, who in later years would become a highly demanded engineer in New York. Artists, Tor Davis, Damien Burnett and Naomi Leggo, worked with us and featured on the release, Dance Of The Spheres. Other notable musicians/artists to work with The Generator at the ‘Loo included Keith Casey (percussionist from the iconic Aussie group Ayers Rock), who worked live with us as well as contributing to the album, Tranceformer. Another was Peter Thin Carolan (keyboardist who went onto join Gondwanaland), who played and recorded with us, and, a man whom David and I became close to, in fact we became brothers in many ways, that being Geoff Krozier (nee Crozier). However, I will return specifically to Geoff later.

You need to understand, that although David was squatting, under the law in New South Wales at the time, he was legally able to have the power supplied to the premises and as a result of the massive increase in playing and recording gear, as well as banks and banks of coloured lights – it became necessary to have 3-phase power put into the building. Although the Department of Mains Roads (the buildings owners) would one day reclaim the building as part of massive reworking of the area, we were largely left alone with only the occasional visit from various authorities, curious as to what was happening.

The studio’s fame spread to those in the know, and wonderful live concerts resulted with invitation spread via the underground word of mouth. The most magical of music was played, and luckily some of it was recorded. Fortunately among that which was recorded was some of the most experimental. Much of that music is featured on a two CD set, titled Quantum Mechanix I and II, which were recorded on New Years Eve 1979.

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‘Lectric Loo - late 1979 for the ‘Quantum Mechanix sessions

In that session Peter Thin Carolan worked with us, just prior to him joining Gondwanaland. The following two tracks are representative of three of the numerous styles of compositions on these CD’s. Track 1 was lifted from the longer pieces, with track 2 being a complete piece. With so much music played and recorded, it is impossible to even begin to provide samples of it all.

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[AUDIO CLIP: Crystal Jungle.mp3]

Crystal Jungle, from Quantum Mechanix I

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[AUDIO CLIP: Chillin’ Out.mp3.mp3]

Chillin’ Out, from Quantum Mechanix II

Although substantially a studio outfit, both as Rainbow Generator and as The Generator, we did play at a select number of live performances. This wasn’t so much as we chose not to play at external venues to a live audience, it was more the complication of the set-up. The amount of gear was massive, and heavy. Further complications involved the manner in which the equipment was directly tied to the mixers and recorders. The thought of pulling all this down, relocating for a bracket of music somewhere, setting it all up, pulling it down again, and having to return it all to the studio only to have to reset it all up again, was mind boggling.

Then apart from the weight issue, analogue synthesisers are finicky devices. However they constantly had tuning issues dependent upon temperature, and didn’t really like being moved. This was something that would haunt us again in the near future!

So apart from the multiple live performances in the “Loo”, we did perform live and some of those live performances including the first and second “Down To Earth” concerts, in Canberra in 1976 and then in Bredbo in 1977. There were several performances in the Sydney Festivals in the 1980’s, and others in Paddington, but the major live performances came with the establishment of Krozier and The Generator.

The location is Melbourne; the date is the mid 1980. For the second time in my life, a chance meeting occurred with someone that would have a major impact upon me personally, and creatively. David and I were driving through Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne, when we saw this extraordinary man. We had to stop, we had to talk, and as a result we suddenly found us talking and planning with the legendary Geoff Krozier. It sounds ridiculous, but the three of us connected immediately and within two weeks of the meeting, we had formed Krozier and the Generator. This fused Krozier’s utter madness with The Generators "Off the Planet” music – it was an alliance that was waiting to happen. Not so much a ‘combination’ of talents and experiences, as a ‘conflagration’! There were ten live performances between 13 June and 25 October in Melbourne. We played at some of the largest venues of the time, including Billboard and Bombay Rock. Some of these performances were recorded on cassette and were revived on CD as part of the archiving of the music and can be found listed in the discography. Now one thing I need to clarify, the spelling of Geof’s name. His given name was Geofrey Thomas Crozier. He also referred to himself as Jeff Crozier, and with us he, became Geoff Krozier.

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Geoff Krozier 1980
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Rob and David prior to a performance in 1980

For the final series of live performances, drummer Michael Buckingham, joined David, Geoff and myself.

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Appropriate rehearsal space was always a problem, not just because of the volume of music during rehearsals but also because rehearsal space also became where Geoff and his menagerie lived, for wherever he went, so did his chooks, turkey, duck, dove, along with many, many trunks of costumes, props, potions and other paraphernalia.

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A fuller account of Geoff’s life and his work with groups overseas and finally with The Generator, can be found on the Toorak Times, in an article titled “Geoff Krozier – A Magik Story”

tooraktimes.com.au/content.php/1579-Geoff-Krozier-%E2%80%93-A-Magik-Story

In the end, David made the recommendation that we pack the whole thing up and move to the “Loo” studio, where we had the space, the recording equipment and where we could continue to rehearse for both live performances and for an album release of our new material. So it came to pass that David, Geoff, Mick and myself, the entire support crew of five, and all our combined equipment ended up in Woolloomooloo. Here we recorded, ate, drank, played some more, had a lot of fun, rehearsed, played and recorded even more! You get the idea. It was full on for just over three weeks before the crew, Geoff and myself 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 the circumstances that resulted.

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Distressed, dismayed, in fact quite guttered over Geoff’s death, David and I were determined to pay due respect to Geoff and the 12 months we spent together. The best way we knew how was by releasing an album of our 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 had been recorded. These recordings were for two purposes. The first was for future reference purposes, when rehearsals were to begin again, and were to be the basis of the music for a national tour. The second reason was that there were some magic and very funny moments and these tracks were to be for our personal collections. None were ever intended for release, but it was the best material we had at hand.

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 as well as being further developed for future live performances. It remains the only known vinyl work featuring Geoff.

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The front and rear covers to
the double LP “Tranceformer”
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[AUDIO CLIP: House of the Sun.mp3]

House of the Sun from Tranceformer

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[AUDIO CLIP: Devil May Care.mp3]

Devil May Care from Tranceformer

Years later, when the technology became sophisticated and affordable, I worked on other material that had been archived on cassettes and other media and this resulted in three CD’s. These three CD’s are titled, KROZIER’S CRUSADE, HANNIBAL’S SKULL and SIGNS and SYMBOLS. Consisting of finished tracks, 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.

Finally progress caught up and after nearly six years of operating as underground studio/theatre David was forced to close, for two main reasons. The first was when the Department of Mains Roads (the property owners) began making redevelopment murmurs, and the second reason was that the area had became more and more violent as the junkies moved in. So, David and I with families, relocated to the small mid-north coast area near the township of Bellingen. David lived in an even smaller area called Thora and I in the Kalang Valley. David then set up the Never Never Studio on a large property he purchased in Thora. Unfortunately, living on a large property where the bush continually threatened to take back it’s own, and with other distractions including helping to establish a Community Radio Station – 2BBB-FM, meant that our 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 existing cassettes represented the only known recordings from this period, and parts of the tracks were resurrected by myself and appear on a later two CD set called, “Sounds from the Never Never – The Wonderful” and "Sounds from The Never Never – The Weird”, with the music, largely of a non-electronic format, recorded under the name of the MoonRockers.

David and Rob continued to play together and make recordings right through to 2008. Following our 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 from the main road the studio was on 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.

It was here that significant changes began to crystallise as we began the expensive, but necessary change from analogue to digital synthesis. The studio was called the Radio*Galaxy Studio and David and I recorded some material, as The Generator, but David also spent considerable time exploring his own needs to produce some solo works.

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Part of the Radio*Galaxy Studio, circa 2000


David released 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 regard to David’s style of recording, for its 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.

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[AUDIO CLIP: Rondelle.mp3]

Rondelle from Synthony

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

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A publicity flyer for the Digital Dreaming concert

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[AUDIO CLIP: Sonaria.mp3
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Rondelle from Digital Dreaming

By now our combined musical equipment had become overwhelming. There was an extensive collection of analogue synthesisers; based upon voltage controlled subtractive synthesis; ring modulation; vocoding and sample & hold techniques. In addition there was 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 all looked impressive and allowed us to begin a whole new facet of experimentation that resulted in many excellent recording sessions, but was all just getting to big in volume and to heavy to allow for live gigging. The same problems we seemed to constantly face.

Not long after, and with the further development of computing power and software development, David began using an Atari with Notator and Logic music programs, and we began to make more and more use of computer based music generation and manipulation. These early experiments were developed out further with the move and establishment of the next, and final studio, called, The Zoo. This studio was established by David, on the second floor above a bar in Lygon Street Carlton.

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Mojo (aka David - 2007) with trusty Fender, companions since 1973

With the development of The Zoo, came the introduction of several Apple Mac computers between us and subsequently experimentation with computer driven digital synthesis, and with the addition of a full digital drum kit, it proved to be a good move as it provided us with fresh impetuous and enthusiasm. The end result is the CD titled ABOUT TIME, recorded over a two year period, it was released in 2008 and is in fact the last and final release by us as The Generator.

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[AUDIO CLIP: Timeless Reality from About Time.mp3]

Timeless Reality from About Time

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[AUDIO CLIP: Tx/Rx/Dx.mp3]

A section of, Tx/Rx/Dx from About Time

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[AUDIO CLIP: Chards of Time.mp3]

Chards of Time from About Time

In early 2008, The Zoo was dismantled with David moving overseas and beginning a new career in the Health Sciences. I established a micro-studio (The Dragonhelp Studio) in my home in Belgrave, Victoria. For almost 18 months I failed to play a note of music. Then I decided it was time to reconnect with my music, and with an old G4 Mac, a new iMac and a Mac book Pro, I assembled the music software I needed and between late 2009 and 2010, I composed and recorded sufficient original material to produce two ‘contemporary’ electronic based music Cd’s.

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The Dragonhelp Studio 2011

The first was “Singularity”, and this was followed by hEADsPACE. I was pleased with the result of these efforts, as the music represented my first real solo works. However, I was still unhappy. I realised that I had the need to try my hand at composing and playing a more ‘classical/symphonic’ style of music. So in 2011 I worked for several months on a piece of music titled, “Sunset Sonata”. Buoyed by the response I received, I then worked for 6 months on a more complex piece titled, “Four Seasons in Belgrave”. Not a really original title, but it represented the emotions and feelings I had to the vastly four different seasons we experience in the hills surrounding Belgrave, especially the deadly fires in February 2009. And so the music hasn’t died it has just slowed down, and for the time being it is solely in my hands. What I am currently recording is largely inspired by all the years playing in The Generator, and, although Rainbow Generator is no longer exists as a musical outfit, it’s name and music, particularly in Europe, still lives on. Some might debate whether Rainbow Generator was in fact the first Australian Electronic music group, but what is incontrovertible, is it certainly was the longest surviving.

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[AUDIO CLIP: Runaway Reaction.mp3]

Runaway Reaction from Singularity

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Klaus, Where Are You? from hEADsPACE


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Belgrave in Summer from The Four Seasons in Belgrave
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Updated 8th April 2013 at 07:38 PM by Mick Pacholli

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Rob Greaves , Rainbow Generator and Geoff Krozier

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