Early Life

Born in Australia’s capital Canberra in 1976, during childhood Ivan Bullock enrolled in classical piano and violin training. By his teens, he had focused exclusively on violin, enjoying a point of difference by not just having the only white instrument case in town, but also playing a violin lovingly crafted by his (now deceased) Father (a part time instrument maker), from striking African hard wood “Zebrano”. By the age of 18 however, neck injury sustained from prolonged use of the instrument put an end to music creation. He became an avid collector and supporter of music, paying particular attention to experimental works, industrial, electronic and various sub genres of metal.

 

Mystral Tide’s Beginnings in Tokyo

The late 1990′s saw a large personal adjustment and long-term move to Tokyo, which became a catalyst for creativity and learning. The intensity, stress and isolation of central Tokyo living also birthed his first solo music project Mystral Tide, which ultimately lead to years of experimentation with piano, digital recording and hardware synthesis. The first instrument used for the material was a Roland digital piano, loaned to him by a work colleague in a desktop publishing and language translation firm. Frequent trips to Shibuya soon eventuated in the addition of electric guitars, keyboards and a Korg MS2000.

By 2001 he had recorded two albums, “Moiety” and “Etchings”, and released a single titled “SY-S-D”. These self-published CDs were hand-distributed at gothic and industrial music themed events throughout Tokyo, as well as placed into larger music stores such as Tower Records and HMV in Tokyo’s busy Shibuya district. He was contacted by the Japanese publisher Shinyusha and an early recording “Forged” was released in the CD accompanying their magazine “Windows 100%” for the October 2001 edition (T1111863100802).

Later in 2001, having met Sean Cooper of Zeitgeist Records (Brisbane) online, the next album “Whirlpool of Souls” was manufactured in Australia. The release led to numerous performance opportunities in Europe and Japan, including Tokyo’s Labyrinth for the Brains V, Cyber Age Voodoo which Sean traveled from Australia to attend, Tokyo Goth & Darkwave 3 and support for experimental project Seij minus aÇ at the infamous Wave Gotik Treffen festival in Leipzig during 2002. Whilst in Germany, the label Sonic-X signed a distribution agreement with Mystral Tide for the album, under the condition that it underwent further post-production work. This didn’t eventuate as Ivan had turned his focus to recording a follow-up release.

Whilst residing in Tokyo he met Adam of Trucido, forming a duo to release an EBM album “Modus Vivendi“, also through Zeitgeist Records. Adam’s Alesis QSR synthesizer still forms a permanent part of Ivan’s recording studio. Ivan and Adam also became regular promoters and DJs of Tokyo industrial club, Cyber Age Voodoo, for its events during 2002.

The news of Mystral Tide’s work spread, “Whirlpool of Souls” receiving Album of the Month at the New Empire online magazine on 18th April 2002, coverage in Mick Mercer‘s book 21st Century Goth (Reynolds & Hearn ISBN 1-903111-28-5),  as well as reviews by Electroage, Japan’s Metropolis magazine issue #411 February 2003, Australia’s Goth Nation issue #3 in May 2003 and The Drum Media issue #654 in June 2003. Mystral Tide was also included in Industrialnation magazine’s issue #18 in 2003, in an article about Japan’s prominent members of the industrial music scene.

New recordings by Mystral Tide made their way onto several compilation albums during this era, including Cranial Fracture Recording’s “Dissonant Structures” and Canberra community radio station 2XX’s “ElectriCity” 2004.

 

Community Projects and Relocation to Australia

With half of a follow-up album recorded, Ivan returned to Australia in late 2003, first residing in Canberra before locating to Melbourne the year after. Whilst in Canberra, Mystral Tide was invited to present at Newcastle’s This Is Not Art festival [link to PDF scan of event program], in combination with Electrofringe [link to PDF scan of event program], about combining classical instrumentation into electronic synthesis.

It was later in Melbourne that he then connected with fellow Zeitgeist Records artist Cassandra’s Myth (later to be known as SleepLab), and began seeking out independent musicians interested in operating as a community, and working towards producing a series of live events (which would later become known as Enzyme). In response to the enthusiasm and interest from numerous local artists, he founded DEMUS (dark electronic music underground society), an online community where artists could share their releases, news, events and connect with prominent members of the underground arts scene via a forum. In 2006 the project expanded to include Darkstereo, a public-facing website to sell member’s digital and physical works.

Both DEMUS and Darkstereo (under the umbrella of Dawn Industry), went on to co-ordinate, fund and produce 19 “Enzyme” live music and visual events throughout Melbourne between 2005 – 2015. They featured emerging artists ranging from experimental and noise, through to electronic pop, industrial and EBM. In 2010 a special event “Enzyme Tower” was produced for the Melbourne Fringe Festival [link to PDF scan of Fringe Program] with 13 acts across the 2 floors of Blue Velvet Nightclub, culminating in 6 hours of non-stop live music. The event programme [link to PDF scan of event program] included a compilation album CD. In conjunction with such events, several other compilation albums were released by DEMUS including “DEMUS Compiled” in 2008 and its follow-ups “DEMUS Compiled II” in 2009 and a digital-only release, “DEMUS Compiled III” in 2013.

From the increased popularity of social media platforms for artist communication, the DEMUS website was closed by 2010, and replaced by a presence on Facebook.

 

Mystral Tide’s Final Releases

Recorded in Tokyo and completed many years later in Melbourne by 2007, Mystral Tide’s “Geometry of Loss” was a 3 CD set which included a 12 track album, an additional 8 tracks of previously archived and unreleased material, and 12 tracks of remixes by international supporters. The work quickly became out of print due to a limited run of physical media. During this time Ivan also contributed piano music for the score of “Entrapped“, a short film by Adam Haywood and Adam Clash, which was released in DVD format.

Mystral Tide’s final release came in 2009, a sorrowful and dark classical album titled “Isle of Narrows“. The CD version included a DVD containing all of the project’s former recordings, as well as videos originally mixed for live performances between 2009 and 2010. At its conclusion Ivan made an announcement online that all future work would come under a new title, “Minorarc“.

 

Minorarc’s First Recordings and the Infectious Unease Radio Compilation

After shifting focus from classically-inspired and predominantly gothic electronic music, Ivan began recording work to tackle the themes of urban decay and despair, at times heavily incorporating influences from the metal genre.

The debut album “Minorarc” was released in 2010, with a limited production run of hand-printed and assembled CD media. Three years later a 6-track “Involution” EP was released digitally as a collection of new material and re-interpretations.

During this period, Dawn Industry and Darkstereo worked with Infectious Unease Radio during 2009 and 2010 to produce a 4x CD compilation of music from artists who had been involved with the radio show since its conception in 1992. The Infectious Unease Radio Compilation Volume 1 quickly sold out, and was reviewed both favorably and in-depth by Mick Mercer in his blog.

 

Minorarc and Darkstereo Return

Between 2009 and 2019, Ivan’s energy was largely focused on live performances with SleepLab as a guest keyboardist and collaborator. In 2011 Mystral Tide was noted in the French music guide La Croche Lune by David D’Halleine (ISBN 978-1-4709-6520-4), and in this same year had music licensed to the Ten Network for their coverage of the 2011 Formula 1 Grand Prix in Korea. Ivan was also extensively interviewed by Australian Gothic Industrial Music during this era in 2017.

In 2020 Minorarc began recording a concept album “Untold“, the production fees for CD media and digipak artwork covered via a successful Kickstarter campaign. The album was a sonic representation of drowning and loss, fusing classical works with modern metal (djent) and ambient electronics. Released in 2022, it was accompanied by a digital “Blind Remixes” album where contributors were provided stems, but not final tracks, in order to produce their own interpretations. “Untold” was favorably reviewed by numerous sites including A Closer Listen, was voted number 27 for Album of the Year by The Avant-Void, and triggered an interview with Nagamag.

Just three months after the release of “Untold”, a side-dish album “Overburden” was distributed digitally and included 10 new recordings which had been completed shortly after the Untold’s sessions reached completion. It formed a further exploration of the “Untold” themes, and the conclusion of the album’s concepts. The release was covered by Metalperver and Divide and Conquer, leading to an interview with the USA based Sound Pollution Podcast in their Episode 86.

In 2021 the Darkstereo site was re-established following requests from members of the Melbourne independent music community. It functions to this day as a news site for music reviews and articles about extreme, subversive and dark independent audio.

Minorarc’s most recent release was “Inclusions” in 2023, containing instrumental works of neoclassical and modern metal designed to portray dream-like states and flaws in perception. It received an Album of the Week at The Progspace, reviews by Metal Temple, track mentions by Progland, Metal Junkbox, Sounds Good Webzine, Skylight Webzine, and an interview with Lelahel Metal.

 

Present Day

Currently Ivan’s focus is on translating Minorarc’s last three albums into performance-ready work. He has engaged with a Melbourne violinist and bass guitarist who are currently at work recording and rehearsing. He also continues to write articles and review music at Darkstereo, whilst operating a small boutique gem-cutting business. The early stages of a digital event for the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2024 are also in the works.


References

Printed materials:

Various (2001). Windows 100%. CD-ROM. Shinyusha. October 2001 edition. T1111863100802.
Mercer, Mick (2002). 21st Century Goth. Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-28-5.
Dan Grunebaum (2002). Metropolis. Mark Devlin. Issue 411, 8th February 2002. p. 26.
Jay (2003). Goth Nation. Goth Nation Magazine. Issue 3. p. 32. ISSN 14474476.
Paris Pompor (2003). The Drum Media. Rural Press. Issue 654, 17th June 2003. p. 24.
Solomon Grundy (2003). Industrialnation. Issue 18. p. 10. ISSN 1062499X.
Shawn Stanley & GMAN (2003). BMA. Radar Media Pty Ltd. Issue 178, 24th April 2003. p. 16, 19.
GMAN (2003). BMA. Radar Media Pty Ltd. Issue 185, 17th July 2003. p. 18.
D’Halleine, David (2011). La Croche Lune. Lulu.com. p. 23, 45, 74, 189, 379. ISBN 978-1-4709-6520-4.

Websites:

https://www.discogs.com/release/2513505-Mystral-Tide-Whirlpool-Of-Souls. Mystral Tide – Whirlpool Of Souls.
https://www.discogs.com/release/2513443-Trucido-Modus-Vivendi. Trucido (2) – Modus Vivendi.
https://web.archive.org/web/20020418000540/http://www.newempire.com/music/aom.asp?SID=JHANGAJRFE6W11042002165910. New Empire. March 2003. Retrieved from web.archive.org.
https://www.discogs.com/release/352511-Various-Dissonant-Structures. Various – Dissonant Structures.
https://www.discogs.com/release/29838214-Various-ElectriCity-2004. Various – ElectriCity 2004.
https://cassandrasmyth.com/blog/. Cassandras Myth.
https://sleep-lab.bandcamp.com/. SleepLab.
http://w.gailpriest.net/projects/electrofringe03_program.pdf. Electrofringe 2003 Program.
http://w.gailpriest.net/projects/ef0304_.html. Electrofringe.
https://web.archive.org/web/20080103073945/http://www.tidalportal.com/DEMUS/html/. DEMUS. January 2008. Retrieved from web.archive.org.
https://www.discogs.com/release/9997304-Various-Enzyme-Tower. Various – Enzyme Tower.
https://www.discogs.com/release/1486699-Various-Demus-Compiled. Demus – Compiled.
https://www.discogs.com/release/1975858-Various-Demus-Compiled-II. Demus – Compiled II.
https://darkstereo.bandcamp.com/album/demus-compiled-iii. Demus Compiled III.
https://www.discogs.com/release/2513537-Mystral-Tide-Geometry-Of-Loss. Mystral Tide – Geometry Of Loss.
https://minorarc.bandcamp.com/album/isle-of-narrows. Isle of Narrows.
https://infectiousuneaseradio.com/. Infectious Unease Radio.
https://www.discogs.com/release/2174456-Various-Infectious-Unease-Radio-Compilation-Volume-1. Various – Infectious Unease Radio Compilation Volume 1.
https://mickmercer.livejournal.com/1036688.html?fbclid=IwAR0UtOX7nFO57Ct6iOQAJnTnlZnIh4qY83XrIhf3h0zrm_MVhli4lkk7QUo. Mick Mercer March 26th 2010.
https://www.australiangothicindustrialmusic.com/interviews/ivan-of-dawn-industry-mystral-tide-minorarc-sleeplab-enzyme.html. Australian Gothic Industrial Music interview with Ivan Bullock.
https://minorarc.bandcamp.com/album/untold. Untold.
https://minorarc.bandcamp.com/album/untold-blind-remixes. Untold – Blind Remixes.
https://acloserlisten.com/2022/01/07/2022-winter-music-preview-rock-post-rock-folk-jazz/?fbclid=IwAR2Dy6VnUfnah2RRIvT3iIbEFYEfQFgTJQk2w9-B56YIGvhMfITx_2Gia3k. A Closer Listen, 2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Rock, Post-Rock, Folk & Jazz
https://www.nagamag.com/the-latest/minorarc-interview/. Minorarc interview on Nagamag.
https://minorarc.bandcamp.com/album/overburden. Overburden.
http://metalperver.com/2022/04/05/minorarc-a-brief-afterthought/. Minorarc – A Brief Afterthought.
https://www.pitchperfectsite.com/indie-music-album-reviews/minorarc-untoldoverburden. Pitch Perfect, Minorarc Untold/Overburden.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1oEx4uaxKM. Sound Pollution Podcast, Episode 86 Ivan of Minorarc.
https://minorarc.bandcamp.com/album/inclusions. Inclusions.
https://theprogspace.com/album_releases/week-35-2023/. The Progspace. Albums of the Week.
https://metal-temple.com/review/minorarc-inclusions/. Metal Temple. Minorarc Inclusions.
https://metaljunkbox-com.translate.goog/lancamentos/minorarc-meet-the-blade/?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US&_x_tr_pto=wapp. Minorarc Meet The Blade.
https://www.soundsgoodwebzine.com/minorarc-seven-times-burnt/. Minorarc – “Seven Times Burnt”.
https://skylight.gr/index.php/2023/09/10/minorarc-bleeding-facet/. Minorarc – Bleeding Facet.
https://lelahelmetal.blogspot.com/2023/09/interview-minorarc.html. Interview Minorarc.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/27564018@N05/collections/72157613919321141/. Flickr Gallery of Enzyme Photos and Flyers.
https://www.wave-gotik-treffen.de/past.php?reqYear=2002. Wave Gotik Freffen lineup 2002.
https://melbournefringe.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/2010_Program_MelbFringe.pdf. Melbourne Fringe Festival 2010 Program.
https://canberraelectronicmusic.com/articles/history-of-canberra-electronic-music-artists. History of Canberra electronic musicians.
https://web.archive.org/web/20020505040015/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.electroage-music.com%2Felecmystralrev.htm. Electroage. May 2002. Retrieved from web.archive.org.
https://blatantpropaganda.org/radio/2xx/singed/dj-robot-radio-special-canberran-dark-music-bands.html. Playlist from History of Dark Music Canberra.
https://www.criticalsenses.com/previous.html. eXXentricity artist list.

Artist Websites:

https://www.minorarc.net. Minorarc.
https://www.darkstereo.com. Darkstereo.
https://www.dawnindustry.com/mystraltide. Mystral Tide.