Canberra artist Sebastian Field shares the first glimpse of his forthcoming debut album with a lush take on the Bjork classic, ‘Unravel’.
Field’s spectral vocals and atmospheric guitar textures push the stripped-back earnestness of the original into an otherworldly realm. A realm hinted at in Field’s former band, Cracked Actor, whose occasional ventures into ambient territory can be heard on tracks such as ‘Ventilation’ (from the Upstructures EP) and ‘MYV/Light Year’ (from their criminally underrated 2015 full-length, Iconoclast).
This is fully embraced on ‘Unravel’, allowing it to disconnect from the original, adrift in its own constellation.
‘Unravel’ was recently included on Feral Media’s Covers Vol. 1, an EP of interpretations from artists including Bilby, Lucy Roleff, Reuben Ingall, and Aphir. The latter, a friend of Field who contributes a remix here adding beats and electronic flourishes resulting in an upbeat, almost danceable affair. Closing out the single is a propulsive remix from fellow Canberran Shoeb Ahmad, who introduces noisy blasts and choppy guitar parts which are the antithesis of the source material. If Field’s version is a celestial body in orbit, Ahmad’s is its explosive and fiery demise.
‘Unravel’ will appear on Picture Stone, Field’s ArtsACT funded solo album which explores the intermarriage between sound and space by capturing the reverberant qualities of various locations around Canberra.
Field will be launching the single in his hometown on December 1st at Smiths Alternative alongside Fossil Rabbit. Check out the full event details here, and lose yourself in the single via the player below.
Like every inner city nerd who couldn’t find a warehouse party with an event invite and maps, I love industrial music. Like every weepy romantic who stopped being cute ‘n’ tortured a long time ago, I love post punk. And, like every right-thinking person, I love metal. This deadly tough and dramatic record from Melbourne’s Bitumen is the best part of all three.
The album opens with the dance track, ‘Lash’, and there’s some beats here and there across the whole thing you could make a party out of if you were really committed. But at its heart this record is sinister. They play with the goth, old-timey references in the titles ‘Sicker Dowry’, ‘Pound of Flesh’, and keeping these songs out of a modern context is important. It wouldn’t work at all if these songs were about Tinder and Newstart and missing the bus. I think we’re maybe a bit sick of that anyway. I know I don’t want to hear about my own life in a song any more. Yuck. Give me darkness and depravity, power, violence, dangerous seduction. Not more constant niggling anxiety.
A lot of guitar bands are using drum machines now – it makes sense, give the people something different, don’t have to worry about a kit, hey, you’re playing clubs now. But it’s for this kind of music that drum machines were invented. Cold, precise, robotic, not a hint of swing or groove. The bass is tech without being distracting, guitars tense, tight and massive.
First single ‘Twice Shy’ comes with an unsurprisingly dark and moody film clip, it’s a good punchy single, but doesn’t quite do justice to some of the complexity of the rest of the record. But that is honestly some nitpicky shit. I’m trying to avoid slavish enthusiasm. It’s not working.
‘Pound of Flesh’ is my favourite song because it is drone and desire and it is absolutely huge. Until like a minute from the end it builds, guitars groan and rattle and shake the foundations. Kate Binning whispers ‘I’ve been watching from a distance I’ve been waiting for a signal…’. Then it opens up with her frenzied spat vocal. ‘Pound of Flesh’ and ‘At Bended Knee’ are both revenge horror movies, menacing anthems for the wronged; ‘I’m not quite who I used to be’ ‘I take back what you took from me’.
I think the secret to Binning’s power is how absolutely in control she sounds through the record. Plenty of vocalists could get lost in the sea of riffs and synth hysterics, but the vocals always do them one better, sounding a bit sicker, a bit darker, a bit more crazed. No monotone drone under reverb (well except in the obligatory atmospheric track ‘Wriggling Signal II’, but who doesn’t like a bit of atmosphere) the vocal melodies hit just as hard as anything else. Cardinalidae is the stadium track in an album full of stadium tracks.
This record, to me, is so extremely Melbourne, but without the bad parts. It’s that self-confidence, style, cool, with just enough edge, but it doesn’t try too hard at any of it. It’s dead serious, without crossing that thin sneaky grey line into being silly. Which is hard. Most bands wouldn’t even try, let alone pull it off this well.
Buy this good record from the good label Vacant Valley
The trio’s unique brand of indietronica is as strong as ever, full of sardonic wit and subtle hooks that sneak into your subconscious only to reveal themselves when you unknowingly sing them to yourself in the shower, in the line at the post office (if this is in fact still a viable pursuit), or other such times when your mind is left to wander.
Opener, ‘Noise’, kicks up with some cosmic synth noodling before sliding into a typically bent pop number, the kind we’ve come to expect from the group. This is followed by the single, ‘Cardboard’, a song which relishes the schmaltz taking musical clichés from another time and turning them on their head within a clever indie pop framework. Lyrically, Andrew Kuo is at his candid best with his humorous and poignant commentary on the idiosyncrasies of the human condition.
‘Chinese Whispers’ explores the group’s love of hip hop, a fondness which has borne fruit in the past through collaborations with rap upstart and Yes Rave label head, Simo Soo as well as the surprise guest spot from former Das Racist member Kool A.D. on last year’s ‘Dolphin’.
The EP closes with the psychedelic ‘When I’m Freaking Out’, a song that harks back to older Yon Yonson material, albeit in a more restrained and ultimately successful way. A good example of how the group has matured even in their fairly limited time together.
Fermented Fruit is another notch on the metaphorical belt of this talented crew. Now off to the post office.
On Double Negative, the latest effort from Melbourne band Harmony, the blueprint for the band remains the same. The heart on the sleeve arrangements are stripped of all excess, never overplayed or exaggerated. Yet although things may seem the same on paper, this new collection is more refined without losing the raw edge, more immediate, without seeming obvious.
There’s a deliberate looseness, which could be mistaken for sloppiness, be it the way the band casually rides the tempo in and out, or the bare bones approach to production, not an overdub to be heard. Yet these elements are very much calculated, each adding to the scrappy vulnerability and driving home the fact that in order to make everything work the songs need to be extremely well written, and catchy as hell. And the songs on Double Negative have this in spades.
The unique vocal sound, now a trademark of the band, is as engaging as ever. Tom Lyngcoln’s impassive vocal drawl explodes into cathartic wail, fervently flanked by the rag tag soul harmonies of Amanda Roff, Quinn Veldhuis and Maria Kastaniotis. A sound that is at once uniquely Australian but on the other hand, universal.
Double Negative could be seen as Harmony maturing, shedding some of their noisier tendencies, but far from mellowing the emotion is now fully charged and the dirt under the fingernails remains.
Double Negative is available through Poison City Records now.
Tangents continue their winning streak on new full-length, New Bodies. The album lands on the heels of the Stents + Arteries EP from earlier this year, which found the group introducing new elements into their already expansive sound. New Bodies continues this exploration while further refining the distinct amalgamation of styles on their 2016 breakout, Stateless. As with Stents + Arteries, the new album shifts the balance between processed sounds and live elements, the latter now becoming the more prominent feature. There is a looseness within their sound that brims with confidence as the players explore beyond the gridded confines of electronic music.
Opener ‘Lake George’ picks up where ‘Stents’ left off; gentle, meandering post rock underpinned by delicate electronic flutters gradually give way to processed drum and bass rhythms and swirling ambient textures. ‘Terracotta’ revisits the formula explored on Stateless with renewed vigour as subtle cello and squalling guitar accompany an exquisite and transcendent melody before exploding into a frenzy of drums and organ stabs.
Album centerpiece ‘Gone to Ground’, finds the group channeling a different mood, one which has yet to appear in their previous work. Beginning unassumingly enough the tension slowly eats away at the edges, the throbbing bass and prepared piano clunks foreshadowing a creeping anxiety. This anxiety continues to build until finally conceding to the exhalation of ‘Swells Under Tito’, its whimsical tone accentuated having weathered the storm which preceded it.
There is much to love here, the group embracing their live roots without losing the adventurous studio experimentation sees them eschew the tropes commonly associated with much improvised music.
Tangents are currently embarking on a national tour in support of New Bodies, so be sure to catch them as their live show is an adventure in itself.
New Bodies is available via Temporary Residence now
Lachlan Denton & Emma Russack continue to mine their collaborative vein on ‘I’m Right Here’, the first single from from new album Keep On Trying, which follows their first record from just a…month or two ago, When It Ends.
Denton is predominantly known for his input to The Ocean Party; a Melbourne pop-rock mainstay that seem to deconstruct slightly in-between releases, each member taking five to pursue other things in life. Denton’s approach to songwriting has consistently carried a sort of generational angst; he often seems emotionally rapt, self-reflective to the point of anxiety. He’ll switch between personal confessionals before projecting outward to call out inter-generational wrongs by those that came before.
Russack too is at times a deeply sombre artist, but life has clearly imbued her with a sort of smirking bemusement about everything; a dry wit that surfaces real heart and tenderness within her music.
Nowhere is either’s softer side more exposed than on ‘I’m Right Here’.
“If you need space I’ll give it to you / If you need me near, well, I’m right here”. Deeply sincere and undramatic, a salve for the weakened, the anxious, on the verge of panic. Unselfish love given as needed. The music; with it’s sparkling guitars and melodic piano lines, energises the warmth of the vocals. Denton and Russack are confident but not forceful, calming yet engaged. Sure, it is vague, but the sentiment of unconditional, purely unselfish support is refreshing.
Keep On Trying is out July 18 on Osborne Again.