Formed in 1978 as a mimimalist duo of guitarist Robert Goodge and keyboardist David Chesworth, Essendon Airport released their landmark 7” EP Sonic Investigations Of the Trivial on Chesworth’s Innocent Records in 1979. Chapter Music reissued Sonic Investigations way back in 2002, as a CD including second single Talking To Cleopatra (with vocalist Anne Cessna) and a raft of bonus tracks.
Originally gentle and inquisitive, with beats supplied by a drum machine built from plans printed in an electronics magazine, Essendon Airport began to expand after Sonic Investigations and explore the possibilities of rhythm. First came classically- untrained drummer Paul Fletcher, and then saxophonist Ian Cox, to form the four piece lineup heard on their lone album Palimpsest from 1982.
With its dryly intoned vocals, flailing polyrhythms and a post- modern fascination with appropration and quotation, Palimpsest is an eccentric post-punk classic. The album title means “a manuscript page from which the text has been scraped off to be used again”, while the original liner notes state “all” “songs” “written” “and” “produced” “by” “Essendon Airport”.
After Palimpsest, Essendon Airport added bassist Barbara Hogarth and grew to become one of inner city Melbourne’s premiere live attractions. “Creative differences,” however, saw them disband in 1983, with Cox, Goodge and Hogarth forming I’m Talking that same year with singer Kate Ceberano. Chapter reissued Palimpsest in 2011 as a double CD set, with disc bonus Live+More collating 18 recordings from the duo period to the impressively muscular, previously undocumented five piece lineup.