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Tiny Ruins: Olympic Girls

Article originally appeared on The Music 31st Jan 2019

Touring the world with names like Fleet Foxes, Beach House and Calexico, while featuring a line-up that shifts more than the tectonic plates under her New Zealand homeland, Hollie Fullbrook has built a solid base for herself out of Tiny Ruins. The latest album, Olympic Girls, is full of the finger-plucked guitar, homely metaphor, and low-key lyrical delivery that Fullbrook is known for.

Compared to the full-on three weeks it took to record Brightly Painted One, Tiny Ruins’ third record Olympic Girls was drawn over a full year and, while that fact can be seen in the polished production, it feels as though this additional time led to each track being forgotten before she recorded the next – on a cursory listen, there’s little to distinguish them. 

Fullbrook’s vocals are beautiful and full, blooming out over the instrumentation in an encompassing way that feels oddly devoid of emotion despite the wistful sombreness of the lyrics. The overall effect is a little too perfect, like a rock wall that’s been filled with resin and buffed smooth – getting a handhold is all but impossible.

Olympic Girls is a tender feat of musicianship that politely asks you to listen rather than begging to be heard.

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Thom Yorke: Suspiria (Music For The Luca Guadagnino Film)

Article originally appeared on The Music 24 October 2018

A soundtrack is a tricky thing to enjoy; supposed to augment, supplement or transcend its accompanying art, but taken out of context it can sometimes feel inadequate. Thom Yorke soundtracking a Suspiriareboot is so incredibly difficult to decouple from context, it’s hard to say if it can stand without the weight of the movie or the man.

Some parts scream Yorke, or rather, Yorke laments across them in a vaguely hallucinogenic way, while other elements list from faintly eldritch to outright sinister with the help of synth stabs and Gregorian chants delivered with the guttural malaise of noise-rock in a foley room. It’s a lattice of semi-irrelevant ambience and isolated SFX that gives Suspiria a disconcerting feeling like it’s the ghost of Radiohead rattling chains on a haunted house tour. Though deliriously long, it is a wonderful tour punctuated by some suspiciously charming songs that wouldn’t feel out of place on a The King Of Limbs successor.

Overall, Yorke’s take lands on a softer side of psychedelic than Goblin’s original, for better or worse, featuring far less saxophone and its own diffident kind of flamboyance.

The Gametes: The Astronomical Calamities Of Comet Jones

Article originally appeared on The Music Aug 7th 2018

Exploding onto the scene in 2017 with all the velocity and cult acclaim of a popped pimple, The Gametes have been enjoying something in the field of meteoric success.

If you imagine Mr Bungle and the descendants of Devo shouting from the shores of The Lord Of The Flies, you might begin to imagine how unpredictable their sound can be. Simultaneously whimsical and dire, they flit from surf rock to gothic faster than you can sing space opera and with far more dramatic flair. After displaying a penchant for narrative songwriting on their debut, The Sweat Tapes, they’ve dove directly into the concept for their follow up.

A sci-fi leaning story about a lone space traveller, the underlying problem with The Astronomical Calamities of Comet Jones is that the narrative isn’t overly interesting or conceptually original but the execution is definitely both. Outrageous and eclectic, each track does an excellent job of showcasing their eccentric ideologies.

Like your favourite director’s worst movie, the album loses gravitas even as its narrative seeks to build mass, and yet, it is utterly, indefinably loveable.

Tape/Off: Broadcast Park

Article originally appeared on The Music Jul 12th 2018

Broadcast Park is gritty, raw and thick, full of misleading lulls presented here as potholes on a dirt road. It’s really quite excellent if you’re in the mood for being thrashed about.

A vocalisation of manifest injustice, this is the bang and the whimper, the burning of the straw man in variegated and at times atonal intonations that flux from sombre to manic without diverging from a brand of beat delivery that feels as jarring and unacceptable as its subject matter should. And yet, it’s so authentic, so immediate, grounded and familiar that it’s like listening to your down on his luck mate air his grievances. And good on ’em, good flipping on ’em, because it’s taken years for this LP to arrive and you’d have to wonder if there were no frisson at this point then why make anything at all? Thankfully we have fragments here that are over four years old and are hitting home in ways that are more relevant than ever. Things are not going well and it’s a great time for people to hear why.

Tape/Off have put forward something that says, this is Australia, this is modern life, this is malaise meets rage at its most percussive and poignant. This is the sound of someone who’s finally had enough and is ready to speak up.

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