ALBUM REVIEW: New War – Trouble In The Air

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New War
Trouble In The Air
Heavy Machinery Records

Last year Sarah Mary Chadwick released an album that she’d recorded on the Melbourne Town Hall Organ – the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. New War had already ticked that box in 2017 when they recorded this new live album.

While Chadwick created a grand widescreen soundtrack to her songs, her Melbourne contemporaries use the instrument in a much more varied way by utilising drones, pulsing rhythms and haunting melodies. Played by Jesse Shepherd, the instrument conjures up images of gothic churches, demented carousels, horror soundtracks and shadowy circuses. Those moods are enhanced by the cold electronic drums of Steve Masterson and Melissa Lock’s post-punk bass playing. Topped off by Chris Pugmire’s sinister incantations, the overall effect is one that draws a line back through Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire to Suicide, Nico and the dark side of Krautrock.

Nearly all the songs include a colour in their title, the exception being the accessible opener Bang On. I Am Position Yellow is a highpoint, wonderfully combining atmosphere, rhythm and melody, while Cocaine Blue is a beautiful piece of Joy Division-esque melancholy. 

The album no doubt had immeasurably more impact and resonance when experienced live, with the imposing Grand Organ imposing but never overwhelming the rest of the musicians. This recording serves as a fine document of the occasion.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Ria Hall – Walk

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Here’s a recently released new track from NZ’s Ria Hall, written with Laughton Kora. It’s a great slice of Pacific reggae but one that rides a minimal and dark rhythm instead of hitting summer jam heights. That works in its favour. Don’t get me wrong, it still gathers momentum and swings along with a real hook to it but it’s definitely on the lowdown tip. Dig it!

‘Walk’ comes from Hall’s new album Manawa Wera which is out now on Loop Recordings.

 

NEW MUSIC: HYG – Be Here

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HYG are a Canberra psych band who’ve already released an EP a couple of years ago and now have this cool new single out. ‘Be Here’ finds its groove and rides it for all money. It’s big and fuzzed-out with heavy stomping drums and bass that provides the repeating melodic phrasing amid the noise and heavy riffage. There’s a simple idea at the core of the song but they know how to stretch it out, adding and removing elements to create the feeling of droning perpetual motion. It’s dark and ominous like an approaching electrical storm.

 

NEW MUSIC: BastienGOAT – Hexane

 

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There’s a great blend of cold industrial percussion and hot-blooded bass tones throughout this new track but US electronic producer BastienGOAT. Hailing from Pinole, CA, he’s just released his new Fumes EP – two tracks that carve some hard pummelling rhythms with haunted sci-fi sounds. A nod to the dynamics of drum & bass but firmly placed in the techno realm. There’s also a playfulness amid the heavy bass and moody atmospherics.

 

NEW MUSIC: The Wednesday Night – The Perfect Scene

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Sydney group The Wednesday Night follow up their 2018 LP Music Club Volume Two with their new single ‘The Perfect Scene’.

Over tumbling drums and bass that wanders with curiosity and a free spirit, Laura Murdoch relays the scenario of a perfect scene (of two tales) through a hazy lens of psych-pop melancholy. Like Mazzy Star filtered through a tougher 60s aesthetic, the guitar of Rob Young hangs in the air, all shimmering, ringing chords and atmospheric melodies, particularly the chiming, six-string sparkle of the chorus.

Murdoch and Young, the core of The Wednesday Night, say of the new single…

“The Perfect Scene paints two dark film noir tales. The stories hang in limbo with no resolve, encircled in reverse looped guitars so you’re not sure if it’s the beginning, the end or even if the tales intertwine. Either way, you get the eerie feeling we’re all in it together.”

‘The Perfect Scene’ is out now via Half A Cow Records

NEW MUSIC: Daniel McCagh – Altered States

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Australian composer and sound designer Daniel McCagh has just released his debut album Altered States, an immersive and sonically detailed collection of compositions that range from visceral sheets of digital rain to delicate filigrees and textures. He manipulates acoustic instruments to place them in evocative settings where the organic and synthetic sounds become one. It sounds futuristic yet connected to human spirit, blood flow and creativity.

The title track buzzes and shudders like a scene from a sc-fi film, all tension and a gradual gradient of intensity and right across the album there’s a sense of graceful wounded beauty.

Altered States is out now via n5MD

 

INTERVIEW: Cable Ties

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CABLE TIES, LONG JAMS AND LOUD AMPS

Between festival appearances and European tours, Cable Ties’ Jenny McKechnie chats with Chris Familton about their new album Far Enough and explains the band’s 30-minute riff test.

Picture three figures, closely grouped between numerous amps and drums, hunched over their instruments in the middle of a large warehouse as heavy guitars at full volume fill the voluminous space and make their way through cables to an analogue desk. That was the scene as Melbourne trio Cable Ties laid down the tracks that make up their second album Far Enough.

With engineer and producer Paul Maybury (Rocket Science) behind the controls, the band knew they were in good hands after working with him on their debut album. “We love Paul so much,” enthuses singer, songwriter and guitarist Jenny McKechnie. “Personally speaking he’s really good at knowing what you’re capable of. When we went in and recorded our first 7” he got us playing it again and again and I think that made the single something that we couldn’t foresee at the time. On this record he’s both the recording engineer and the producer so he knew how far he could push it to get the best out of us and when to tell us to shut up and that we got the best take.”

The band have built up a strong reputation over the last half decade for their blistering and impassioned live shows and McKechnie identifies the essence of those performances as something they’re always striving to embody when they’re in the studio. “What we always want to do with a record is achieve that similar live feeling of excitement and capturing those emotions obviously has to be done in a different way because you can’t feel the bass in your lungs when you listen to a record.”

Sonically there’s a clear progression and evolution with Cable Ties’ sound on Far Enough. It’s heavier, more primitive and they’ve added a weightier 70s rock framework to their punk sensibilities. As McKechnie explains, it’s a sound born of experience and a deep and intense exploration of the power of the riff. “From recording the first album to recording the second one it was a matter of having a lot more miles under our belt, playing a lot more and getting a sense of who we are and what we wanted our sound to be – which was different to the first record. This one’s got a bit more of the primitive rock ’n’ roll thing going on,” says McKechnie. “It’s a bit heavier and that came out us going into the rehearsal studio and jamming on a riff for at least 30 minutes. If you can’t do it for half an hour it’s not worth it!”

The synchronicity of McKechnie’s playing with drummer Shauna Boyle and bassist Nick Brown is key to their sound and how astutely they can turn three minute punk songs into six minute hypnotic workouts. “It comes from jamming a lot and we’re all obsessed with repetition, the build and release of tension and chasing that cathartic rush and feeling that you can get from long jams and loud amps. That’s what we love about rehearsals and being in the band and so that’s what comes out on the record.”

Anyone who has heard Cable Ties is left in no doubt that this is a band who wear their hearts and beliefs on their collective sleeves. McKechnie populates her songs with intelligent, poetic and passionate commentary on a range of social, cultural and political topics. It’s something she’s always done as a form of catharsis and raising of awareness. “Even when I was writing folk songs in my bedroom as a teenager I’ve always written about political issues because I’ve always gotten really upset about them and needed a way to process them. That’s what I’m continuing to do to this day,” she explains, before adding “With this album it’s taking a bit of a jump from the last one in that it’s doing that and also starting to be a bit more self-reflective as well.”

With international and national tours ahead of them, including an appearance at SXSW in the USA, Cable Ties’ first priority is the release of their new album, says McKechnie proudly. “We worked really hard on it and I put all my feelings on it. I don’t really hold back much!”

Far Enough is out now on Poison City Records and Merge Records.

NEW MUSIC: bdrmm – Happy

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With a bass-line straight out of The Cure and Joy Division handbook, this track from bdrmm is undeniably the sum of its influences, but they’re great ones and they approach the music with reverence and respect, keeping all the elements of mood and texture in check. The result is a wistful, melancholically propulsive and free-flowing track that draws from shoegaze, post-punk and dark pop. icon1@2x‘Happy’ is the Hull/Leeds-based band’s first single from their debut album Bedroom, out July 3rd. The album was produced by Alex Greaves (Working Mens Club, Bo Ningen) and mastered by Heba Kadry (Slowdive, Beach House).