FROM THE LONE WILDS OF AIRPORT WEST: EVOLVA By Byron Covey Airport West. What is it and what has it produced? It is a northwestern suburb of Melbourne, originating in the 1940s as a mainly flat expanse of paddocks sold off in cheap plots for housing, situated a light plane dive west of Essendon Airport. Utilizing a dim bureaucratic logic the newly formed suburb was named Airport West. Through the 1950s and '60s young families soldiered on without proper sewerage disposal and unpaved roads that turned to slosh when it rained. They went to bed at night to the plaintive drones of Lockheed Electras, De Havilland Comets and DC-3s, 4s and 6s that also sifted shadowy horizons of children's dreams. A community was doggedly formed: milk bars appeared, schools sprang up, and so did the factories: furniture factories, electroplating factories, airplane parts factories, car mechanic, carpenter and tiling yards. Airport West ostensibly contained an Anglo/Italian, Protestant/Catholic milieu operating in an atmosphere of mutually loathsome distrust, most of the time. As the years passed the suburb came to reflect the changing social tides of Melbourne's (and Australia's) multiculturalism. Community pride and the acceptance of different cultures expanded. Property values rose. Today the Westfield mall foments the nucleus of gatherings as the more traditional intercourses once provided by the church and workplace have fragmented. But the factories remain. Alsatians and Dobermans still rear up scratching at bolted gates to roar at passersby; old Valiants still lie rusting in abandoned, barbed wire-fenced yards. Train tracks pass the outer perimeter of the suburb; long boxes of freight rattle along at all hours of the day and night: freight trains...(there's a Beat hobo image). The line cuts through undeveloped paddocks; so do power lines reaching towards the sky, crackling with electricity and trapping wandering souls. Cars and semi trailers fly past on the adjacent Western Ring Road. A walking/bicycle trail runs under those lines that march away to infinity. Feel the wind. Ask the dust. You can get a tram out here. Airport West is the last stop on the line, terminates at the mall and Skyways International Hotel with it's friendless bars and soulless gambling machines. Two men could sometimes be seen here buying a bottle of Grants Whiskey at the bottle shop and disappearing into the dead of night, past the barking dogs clawing at their hated gates-back to two guitars and a potbelly stove in a nondescript garage. Or was it the nexus of the universe? This is where Evolva comes in, and the CD you hold in your hands. For it is through Airport West that Evolva evolved. The zone has been as crucial to it's musical vision as Aberdeen was to Kurt Cobain or Warracknabeal to Nick Cave: a vision that owes it's debt to an environment purely as an ideal of escape from it. Kim 'Kid' McCoy and Leonardo Fante comprise Evolva. McCoy is a former skater and graffiti writer who sprayed the factory walls of Airport West for many years with his trademark tag, Radical K, before getting nailed one night out by the train tracks. He was placed on a good behavior bond and ordered to remove the graffiti he was caught doing. Nonetheless, dozens of his tags still adorn the factory zone in streets situated due west of the old airport today. Radical. Kid honed his guitar playing during his teenage years, harnessing the wisdom, to borrow a line from Ecclesiastes, that "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." But the vicissitudes of life-the graffiti bust, several failed relationships, a series of dead end jobs during and out of university-tempered the directionless rage of Kid's youth, forged it on an anvil of suburban experience and gave his playing a subtlety-in motion like water, at rest like a mirror-that we would call Art. Kid McCoy also now saw in music a way out of Airport West, but several years were to pass before he took the leap into recording. It came during a chance meeting with Leonardo Fante at Skyways International-Fante was characteristically drunk out of his mind at the time, but something of a poet and visionary for all that (or because of it). Leo was a local fitter and turner, yet possessed of no mean intellect, music in his blood and a decent axe and amp to grind-given to him at an early age by an uncle who used to hang with Lubricated Goat and The Makers of the Dead Travel Fast. Leo's mercurial nature also lent itself to a droll vocal delivery. By this time McCoy was studying art and design at RMIT, and was by no means a stranger to the spirit of a revel. The two bonded in friendship and music, in the concrete Airport West night. They soon commenced on the personal odyssey of jamming, writing, recording, mixing and polishing the finished songs into the debut collection before you. Evolva's association was honed by the travels the two young men embarked on-the 'escapes' from which they yet inevitably returned to Airport West, the potbelly stove and slab of VB in the old fridge of Kid McCoy's parents' garage: hearing old time psychic fiddle music emanating from the ruins of the ghost mining town Waukaringa, surrounded by desert and the padding of dingoes under a gibbous moon; a delirious two-day drunk at the Silverton Hotel, carving their initials into Mad Max's Monarro; taking a ferry up the Mahakam River in Kalimantan to convene with Forest Dayaks and imbibe grain wine from bleached headhunting trophies; hiring a fishing boat to ply the monsoon-churned waters of Sunda Strait, destination: Krakatoa-and a star-shot evening dining on roasted fish freshly caught, watching distant waterspouts dance, and sleeping on warm black pumice shores. The elements of these experiences wend their way into the Evolva vision. I'll take a stab at prediction here by noting a few future classics: About a Man; Playa Sol; Game On; My Friend-you be the judge. Choose your poison: poison being a noble thing and a mark of good taste. There are 13 indelible tracks in all, by my humble judgment (and I am not known for my humility). Here then, is something of Airport West is and what it has produced. It is more than a suburb, if something less than an ideal. It can generate offspring that determine to score it's soundtrack: a little love, a lot of hate, something of remembrance, and everything of escape. I also see Evolva in it for the long haul-after you listen to this album, you'll probably agree. As Emerson aptly put it: "Excellence is the perfect excuse." -Crank Publications Cuernavaca, July/09.