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Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | INDIE

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | INDIE
Band Alternative




"Intimate storytelling and an otherworldly feel..."

Another fine folk chanteuse on the Australian music scene, McKisko's debut album 'Glorio' is full of songs that drip like stalactites onto stalagmites. The album is dotted with hauntingly fragile melodies, and the songwriting is strong and clear, telling tells of love, loss, longing and lust. The ever-interesting production from Jamie Trevaskis of Junkship Recordings is fittingly sparse, and makes you imagine this album was recorded in the red velvet draped room with the dwarf in the 'Twin Peaks' dream sequences.
McKisko's time spent abroad in attics in Dublin and Barcelona lends a worldly, and at times otherworldly soundscape. The angular album track,'Jackson Curse', leans towards the dark side of Brian Eno and Scott Walker, while magnificent album closer 'Into The Night' would be a sure fire hit in the hands of Delta Goodrem and accompanying pomp. It's lyrics plead "Give me music, not noise, no pleasure, I want joy, Give me passion, no folly, no treasures, I want soul". The vocals are delivered elegantly, and 'Glorio' features some operatic backing vocals, emotive piano playing, and subtle instrumentation. For fans of left-field folk music with bare-all storytelling - this one's for you! - Jmag

"We Heart This Album"

Helen Franzmann sounds beautifully fragile with her voice naked against this minimalist backdrop. 'Glorio' feels like the memory of distant childhood scars and cold Berlin winters. With her understanding of the weight of a measured delivery, it's no wonder this Queensland lass was chosen to support Bon Iver. - Yen Magazine

"McKisko Glorio"

McKisko’s Helen Franzmann can tear out your heart with a single vocal phrase, but don’t fret; she’s bound to let you have it back in the next song.

Two years in the making, Glorio, the debut solo record for this Brisbane songstress has finally made it to the record shelves - and it’s been well worth the wait. A sparse and dreamy record, it highlights Franzmann’s unique vocal style, curious song structures and abstract lyricism.

Having relocated to London with her former band, Redbreast, Franzmann was soon left to her own devices when the band parted ways not long after their arrival. She made her way to Dublin and it was there, holed up in an attic apartment, that work on the songs for Glorio began - and you can hear the hushed creaks and groans of the attic in many of these songs.

The record carries the ghosts of early Cat Power, Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and even a powered-down Sundays, but the songs and arrangements are very much her own. Franzmann switches between fingerpicked guitar and sombre piano and is accompanied by restrained percussion and occasional strings and horns. The songs wander through minimalist soundscapes, lullabies and haunting indie-folk, all the while quietly pulling the listener into their world.

Not many artists are able to create a work that uses space and silence as effectively as McKisko does here and, at times, the air between the notes seems to scream louder than the instruments themselves. Working with Brisbane producer and Troubadour king pin, Jamie Trevaskis, Franzmann has created a record that is glorious in its restraint. Avoiding the usual traps of over-production the songs are complimented, but never overrun by the additional musicians.

Franzmann likes to leave plenty of room for interpretation in the lyrics and this creates a record that is both mysterious and strangely affecting. Stand out moments include the choppy swagger of 'A Difficult Crossing', the nursery rhyme sadness of 'Undertow' and the Piaf-tinged 'Marcel'.

The rippling acoustic guitar of 'Marcel' shifts and sways under the vocal as she sings, "Move for me, Marcel, dance your fear away / We’ll make sordid music, let hesitation sway." On closing track, 'Into the Night', her vocal floats in the dark over solo piano. "I ran for cover, I ran for a hole in the wall / I ran for cover, but this space is just so small," she sings, before ending with "Give me music not noise / No folly, no treasures / I want soul."

In the hands of a lesser songwriter these themes could come across as tired or overwrought, but instead Franzmann has created a timeless record full of joy, sadness and the minutiae of everyday life. - The Vine (Melbourne Age)

"McKisko Glorio"

(El Nino El Nino)
Emerging phoenix-like from the ashes of Brisbane indie kids Redbreast, McKisko – aka Helen Franzmann – has delivered what could well turn out to be one the best local releases this year with debut solo offering Glorio. Not that you’d know it on first listen – this album is the quintessential ‘grower’. At first it seems just too sparse, almost unfinished. But give the record a chance and soon a whole world of nuance and subtlety (both rare beasts these days) soon emerges.
Glorio is a no fuss record, but its simplicity doesn’t mean it’s dull or without depth. Its great strength is its unpredictability as Franzmann moves through any number of moods, often within the same song. You never know quite know where she’s going next. Built from a delicate base of guitars, keys, and the odd slice of washed out brass and percussion, the record’s economical arrangements keep the focus squarely on Franzmann’s remarkable voice – a voice which is somehow frail and warm at the same time. Written and recorded across two years and as many hemispheres, the making of the album has clearly been a deeply personal process for the globetrotting Franzmann, and it’s that honesty and intensity that makes Glorio such a compelling listen.
There’s plenty of atmospherics going on in the background, but never – as is so often the case – are they used as an excuse to disguise cut-price songwriting. As a result highlights abound, from hypnotic opener ‘How We Are’ to album centrepiece ‘Undertow’.
Full marks to producer Jamie Trevaskis also, who deserves a nod for applying just enough sparkle to add depth and interest without washing out the spontaneity of some wonderful performances. All up, Glorio is an album in the truest sense of the word. Beautiful stuff.
HHHH Craig Spann - TIMEOFF

"A tremendously Exciting Brisbane Debut"

Let me preface this review with a few points: (1) I have to be seriously impressed with an artist to give them four stars or more; and (2) first-timers and locals receive no concessions from me. All of which means that the four and a half stars you’ll see at the bottom of this review reflect only one thing: that Glorio is a mind-bogglingly good album. Forget that McKisko, AKA Helen Franzmann, is a local young singer-songwriter releasing her first album, that she has supported Bon Iver, Juana Molina, and José González, and (therefore) that most reviews of Glorio will brow-beat you about how you have a moral duty to listen to her. Just go to your local record store, ask to listen to a copy, and let the opening number, How We Are, with its layers of spare guitars, vibraphone melodies, and cello, tell you all you need to know about this album. Let Franzmann’s plaintive voice – a voice as unique as Nico’s or Joni Mitchell’s – guide you through the spare but effective arrangements on the album, which are something like Bill Callahan’s later work as Smog augmented by some baroque flourishes from Misery Is A Butterfly-era Blonde Redhead. Then, once you have soaked up the sheer minimalist beauty of songs such as Undertow or Thankful Tangle, you’ll understand exactly why this short, restrained album (it clocks in at just over half an hour, certainly not outstaying its welcome) is so exciting. If you’re yet to discover McKisko, there’s never been a better time.
- Rave and Beat Magazine

"McKisko Glorio"

As McKisko, Helen Franzmann makes solitary music, but even when it’s still, it’s rarely insular or regressive. Begun in Dublin and finished in Brisbane, Glorio for the most part has a brisk sense of engagement. These are sparse, purposeful songs. Opener ‘How We Are’ picks up an echo of the guitar figure from Cat Power’s ‘Cross Bones Style’ and lets you sense the space before spectral overdubs – reverent arias, solemn keys, cello stabs – carry the song away. It helps that Franzmann has a calm, uplifting voice that ranges up and down to hit notes but never holds them too long and twists them until they’re pinioned in the name of self-expression. ‘Silence Slowly’ uses little more than a handful of piano chords to find an architecture where the case can be made for and against a solitary life, while ‘A Difficult Crossing’ steadily layers martial percussion, urgent keys, shallow handclaps and snatches of melodica one atop the other – the effect is akin to that of a lo-fi Michael Nyman arrangement. Consider the two aforementioned songs as border points, with the rest of Glorio inhabiting the ground in between. The final minutes fade out into nocturnal introspection, but much of the record exists in the mission set by the closing refrain of ‘A Difficult Crossing’: “Glory at the edge of dream.” - Mess and Noise

"McKisko Glorio"

Australian music is becoming at danger of drowning in its own self-hype.... thus, when a record lands in your lap that is not only remarkably accomplished, but actually very good, it is a far more difficult proposition than it used to be to accurately describe why it is so without releasing waves of opinion throughout the blogospheres and beyond.

So let’s get through the obvious stuff first: McKisko doesn’t sound very much like anything you’ve heard, unless you tune into Triple J every time you’re in the car and refuse to listen to anything before 1993. She has toured with the kind of people that get the scenester set salivating – Bon Iver and Jose Gonzales among them – but she does not share much in common with them apart from her prevalence for acoustic guitar. In fact, her debut album shifts tones so dramatically that if it weren’t for her voice, you’d be lucky to know it was being recorded by the same person.

Compare A Difficult Crossing – which comes armed with an Evermore-style snare beat, brass parts left over from Radiohead’s Amnesiac sessions and an insistent melody that is at once angular and soothing – with the gorgeous opener How We Are, which plays around with free time almost as much as Jackson Curse, entirely dictated by its creator. Make no mistake, Helen Franzmann has a tremendous voice, but it’s her musicality (she plays pretty much everything within her capabilities on this album) that really makes it a delight to listen to.

It’s not a pop record, it’s not an indie record, and it’s not something they’re liable to start pimping on FBi either. I fall short of calling this a ‘classic’ because those observations are usually better made with the benefit of hindsight, but it comes pretty damn close. This is going to be the LP that sweeps all of the critical awards (like the AMP) in the coming year, so do yourself a favour – pick it up and get educated early. Rest assured people will be talking about this for a long, long time. - Faster Louder

"Glorious Noise"


For many bands, the idea of relocating to London sounds pretty appealing. But what happens when they get there is something of a lucky dip – just ask Helen Franzmann, aka McKisko. A few years back she and her then band – impressive outfit Redbreast – took the leap, but things didn’t exactly go to plan.
“We did an EP and went to London…and then we just all went our separate ways,” Franzamnn says with a chuckle. “We’re all good mates, but I think we just decided it would be best if we all did our own thing.”
For Franzmann, that unexpected move has at last born fruit with the release of her sublime new solo record Glorio. Thanks to a keen eye for lo-fi ambience, Franzmann has created an album that weaves minimal elements – keys, guitar, warm simple melodies – into an intoxicating web. With her expressive voice front and centre, this is very much a solo offering – something she’s still coming to grips with.
“I think there is some anxiety that comes with that at times,” she says of being a solo artist. “But I have really enjoyed having free reign and being able to make the decisions myself.”
She admits though that getting to this point has been a long road that started after Redbreast split and she found herself in Dublin, holed up in a small attic apartment.
“I just didn’t know what to do next, I just wrote and walked around,” she says of that period.
While she gives the sense her time in Dublin wasn’t the easiest, it was the beginning of a new creative phase that has been captured on the record. Album highlight ‘Undertow’ is just one of the songs that emerged from her time in the Irish city during 2007. After returning to Brisbane, it took the best part of two years for her to make the record with local producer-on-the-rise Jamie Trevaskis.
“Jamie and I would come together every 10 weeks or so for maybe one or two nights at a time,” she says. “In those weeks between recording I would inevitably come up with a new song I just had to do. In the end, I went in with a completely different album to the one I came out with….which is not a bad thing.”
What really grabs you about the record is the way it manages to sounds spontaneous, but beautifully thought out at the same time. She explains both she and Trevaskis worked hard at ensuring they didn’t get too carried away layering the songs with studio trickery.
“The albums that I really like are really sparse and sometimes I think it is easy to get swept away and fill out things when it’s not really that necessary,” she says. “I was very aware of keeping it within my scope of skills.”
It’s also an approach that survives the transition from studio to stage.
“I do miss the big sound you get with a band,” she says. “But at the moment I am really keen just to keep it simple.”
On the live front Franzmann is fast earning a solid following along the east coast thanks largely to scoring supports slots for the likes of Jose Gonzales, Juana Molina and Bon Iver. The stage, she says, is also where she’s able to breathe some new life into the songs.
“I’m really trying to approach the songs live differently now,” she says.” I mean I still really enjoy these songs, I just don’t necessarily want to listen to myself on an album.”
And while Franzmann says she’s “ready for the next thing”, she’s in no hurry to make another record. “It has actually become a slower and slower process,” she explains. “At one point, there was a period when songs just sort of fell out of me. Now it’s different...I tend to sit with songs a little longer.” - TIMEOFF


Glorio 2009 - Australian release of the week FBI, Feature Album - 2SER, Featured Artist RRR FM, Feature Album - Radio Adelaide.
Single - Baibaba Bimba - Soundcrane 2011



Fleeing the stillness of a rural Queensland Macadamia farm for Europe, a young Helen Franzmann spent four years in the UK and Spain. It was while on her overseas sojourn that her love for bands like Smog and Low came to the forefront, and she started messing around with a guitar and keyboard. Returning to London in 2007 (following a brief stint back home), Franzmann developed her McKisko persona and set out writing sparse and beautiful songs - one acoustic note at a time. Praised for her abstract lyricism, curious song structures, and entrancing live shows, her first album ‘Glorio’ was released in 2009 to national acclaim. She was invited to provide live accompaniment to the German Expressionist Film 'Hintertrippe' at the Gallery of Modern Art and was recognised for excellence in songwriting when awarded the Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship, sending her to Berlin in 2010. She has supported Tiny Vipers, Juana Molina, Jose Gonzales, Grand Salvo and Bon Iver, among others.
The last two years have seen her performing through Australia and Europe, most recently with drummer, Kurt Read.
Her second album is scheduled for release in October 2011.

"..her voice is so full of raw intensity that it packs a heart-rending punch. Even on the more uptempo songs there is a warped broodiness lurking just under the surface. This is a totally engaging and thoroughly exhilirating listen."
**** Sydney Morning Herald

"..gorgeous, minimalist tunes with fiery blood... there is a folk-ish temper to her music, but McKisko is more glorious and wilful than the word allows. Amazing."

"Glorio feels like the memory of distant childhood scars and cold Berlin winters. With her understanding of the weight of a measured delivery, it's no wonder this lass was chosen to support Bon Iver."
Yen Magazine

"Helen Franzmann has a tremendous voice, but it’s her musicality (she plays pretty much everything within her capabilities on this album) that really makes it a delight to listen to...I fall short of calling this a ‘classic’ because those observations are usually better made with the benefit of hindsight, but it comes pretty damn close."