In 1980, Melbourne post-punk duo Essendon Airport teamed up with mysterious vocalist Anne Cessna and released 500 copies of seven inch single Talking To Cleopatra / Lost In Madagascar.
With its deadpan vocals, kitchen sink percussion and angular, insidiously catchy melodies, the single is a classic of the post-punk era, and has become a highly prized collector’s item.
Now Essendon Airport and Anne Cessna return with their first new recordings in more than 40 years, in the form of another limited edition vinyl single. A-side Agua Por Favor has all the idiosyncratic energy and magic of the original incarnation, updated for the 21st century. B-side Ten Thousand Steps shows a gentler, more reflective side to the collaboration.
Paul Fletcher (artist, filmmaker and drummer in Essendon Airport’s later lineup) has made animated videos for each track – check them out here and here.
Essendon Airport began in Melbourne in 1978 as the duo of Robert Goodge on guitar and David Chesworth on Wurlitzer electric piano, along with a home-made drum machine bought from the Trading Post. They performed around Melbourne’s newly emerging post- punk inner city venues such as the Crystal Ballroom, the George Paton Gallery and the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre.
The duo released the EP Sonic Investigations Of The Trivial in 1979 and joined with Anne for Talking To Cleopatra in 1980. This era was documented by Chapter Music on our 2002 expanded CD reissue of Sonic Investigations of the Trivial. Gentle, inquisitive and subtly experimental, Essendon Airport were described by the UK's Melody Maker magazine in 1981 as “the vinyl equivalent of an attractive lisp.”
Essendon Airport later expanded to a four piece and then a five piece, exploring funky art pop on their 1981 album Palimpsest (reissued by Chapter Music in 2011). They broke up in 1983 with Robert Goodge going on to form I'm Talking and later the remix trio Filthy Lucre, famous for their barnstorming version of Yothu Yindi's Treaty.
David Chesworth is now a renowned sound artist and composer with his partner Sonia Leber, creating installations for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and represented in the Venice Biennale in 2015. His early solo works 50 Synthesizer Greats (1979) and Layer On Layer (1981) and Drive Time (with Bill McDonald, 1984) have been reissued by Chapter. Anna Cessna can now be revealed as Anne Sanger, a still mysterious figure who has only ever made music with David and Robert.
These days Essendon Airport are internationally celebrated as post-punk icons, their original releases feverishly coveted and their legend celebrated by The Wire Magazine, NTS, Vice and elsewhere.
Agua Por Favor is available as a limited edition, 200 copy vinyl pressing via the Chapter Music Bandcamp, or on digital platforms everywhere.