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Sanitary Apocalypse is a 28-minute narrative song about an Earth spray-and-wiped to oblivion, with survivors living on dirt pills. The song follows protagonist Clara making her way north to an alleged shelter off the coast of Norway.

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Bourian Boubbov: French horn, Dave Carr: banjo, Tim Firth: drums, Alex Fontaine: cor anglais, Jess Randall: nyckelharpa, Mary Rapp: double bass, Ian Watson: violin, Alexei Dupressoir and Oscar Henderson: bass clarinet duel.

Choir: Susie Bishop, Brian Campeau, Dave Carr, Sarah Klarnet, Louise Nutting, Nina Stamell. Vocal duet: Louise & Wyatt.

Wyatt: lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, piano, keyboards, synths, sounds and programming.

Composed, arranged and produced by Wyatt Moss-Wellington. Recorded in Sydney, Australia by Wyatt, except drums, French horn and double bass (recorded on a sweet Neumann U47) by Tim Walker at SoundWalker Studios, Newtown. Mastered by Tim at SoundWalker Studios and Daniel Fournier at Digital Archives Network. Mixed by Wyatt. Cover art by Jess Bradford and Jack Breukelaar.

Click here for Sanitary Apocalypse lyrics.

If you like the music, please donate!


John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald

Ah, the joy of stimulation by the imagination of one who dares to ask “what if?”, amid so much hollow falsity and slavish imitation. Wyatt Moss-Wellington’s new opus consists of one 28-minute composition blending innocence and knowing, wit and wonder, charm and unabashed cleverness.

His satirical narrative is set in a world “sprayed and wiped” into such uninhabitableness that people survive on dirt pills. His flaring imagery is made more vibrant by music replete with dazzling similes and allusions (including to Robert Wyatt and England’s Canterbury scene). The idioms swirl and change like kaleidoscopic images, or as if Moss-Wellington is opening and closing doors to rooms inhabited by disparate musicians – and, indeed, his players come from folk, jazz and classical backgrounds.

A constant is the sense of abandon, risk-taking and daring to be different, engendering a little revolution of musical possibilities crowned by his own singing and playing of assorted strings. During Dream Sequence his falsetto notes crack and shatter as do love, health and hope in a billion lives each day.


Oliver Downes, RealTime Arts

Wyatt Moss-Wellington’s fiercely ambitious and willfully idiosyncratic Sanitary Apocalypse is something of an anomaly within contemporary Australian music. Described as a single 28-minute song, the work consists of distinct song-like fragments that emerge from a body of through-composed musical tissue, blending elements of folk, jazz, prog-rock, electronica and the 20th century avant-garde. It charts the journey of protagonist Clara through a disturbing post-apocalyptic vision of an Earth cleansed of all complex life.

Sanitary Apocalypse is a far cry from Moss-Wellington’s 2009 debut The Supermarket and the Turncoat, a more conventional collection of songs in the accepted manner of an acoustic guitar-wielding troubadour. Certain tendencies are clear in this earlier incarnation however: whimsically direct lyrics curling around unpredictable melodic twists; a lyrical style both tenderly heart-felt and savagely satiric; the occasional frenetic solo bursting out of unthreatening finger-picked patterns. It’s a style further developed in his more fully produced follow-up, 2011’s Gen Y Irony Stole My Heart.

With Sanitary Apocalypse, Moss-Wellington seems to have taken the limited broader reception of his earlier efforts as a license to push himself into new artistic territory. Although still embedded in the folk tradition, the concept of the folk ‘refrain’ is here refigured as a series of recurring musical idée fixe. The omniscient yarn-spinniner of folksong is re-imagined as a Greek Chorus offering commentary and information in a tone at once firmly solemn and archly ironic, a scene setting line such as “in the end we sprayed and wiped our whole world away” dismissing cataclysm with a raised eyebrow and a shrug.

There are many delights to be found here, Clara’s farewell to her dying husband featuring some beautifully realised vocal writing, perhaps reminiscent of Björk’s Medulla. This section unravels in a cluster of voices chanting over one another, fragments of lyrics thrown to the foreground before being chewed back into the mass, cohering around the words “I love you” in a gloriously illuminated moment of consonance, before collapsing into despair in the form of an unhinged solo from violinist Ian Watson.

Moss-Wellington has assembled a broad range of musicians to realise his artistic vision. One of the pleasures of this recording is hearing performers such as jazz drummer Tim Firth or The Crooked Fiddle Band’s Jess Randall brought together to produce something inclusive, unexpected and complementary, an approach suggestive of Moss-Wellington’s love of Robert Wyatt or the North Sea Radio Orchestra. It is his own vocals that command most attention however, at times relating the saga with cool detachment, at others taking advantage of his startling range for dramatic effect, straining towards his highest possible note at the moment of his heroine’s nadir, pinching the sound to a point of almost unbearable intensity on the single plaintive word “how,” stark piano chords rising into an electronic blizzard of sound before collapsing once more.

There are other moments of almost manic playfulness, a mandolin solo from Moss-Wellington becoming a mashed pastiche of motifs cribbed from violin studies. Elsewhere, the moment of Clara’s rescue is celebrated with an over-the-top bluegrass duel between Dave Carr’s banjo and Randall’s nyckelharpa. The unreality of the narrative moment is underlined by the almost too-cheerful melodic motifs and the breathless delivery of Moss-Wellington’s cartoonish lyrics describing the hyper-futuristic bunker in which Clara finds herself: “the dining room is massive / It’s bustling—full of food, and people, and smiles, water cooler banter.”

Unfolding in a comic phantasmagoria, the work ends with themes from all previous sections swirling together over an inexorably rising bass line, colliding on a single, almost screamed note before voices drop out one by one, leaving Moss-Wellington to close the epic with a single snarled note on the guitar. Self-funded, uncompromising and uncompromised, Sanitary Apocalypse is a unique musical gift.