Monday, May 23, 2011

Dancing Back And Forth With Kins

Kins have been on the rise locally thanks to the release of a couple of key singles (Lake Troposphere, Mockasin's), the fact that it's the new outfit for ex-Oh Mercy man Thomas Savage, and some amount of local exposure (oh that'll be me, here and here). Last week, the group unleashed their debut 'mini-lp' a seven track introduction to their brand of disciplined interlocking rhythms combined with sparse almost skeletal guitar-work, as well as haunting vocals and precise patterns. Entitled Dancing Back And Forth, Covered In Whipped Cream, it's an ambitious work - tying togther the group's musical mission with a loose thematic concept about the two sides of the human condition; all delivered in a keen artistic package.
Having a chance to talk to Thom and musical partner Jacqueline Collyer, it turns out they're not only serious artists, but lovely people to boot. Jacky in particular speaks in hypothetical conversations which is totally endearing while Savage picks his words carefully, perhaps a little jaded at the constant mention of his old group in relation to his new one. After promises to keep the Oh Mercy related inquiries to a minimum he opens up enthusiastically. What was intended as a talk about promoting their album quickly turned into a discussion about all things Kins-related; their origins, their writing, the album and even their future steps - conversing in the spacious loft of Panama Dining Hall over what the band name-checked as 'the best tea ever.' Chin chin. Early Grey anyone?

AMR: You guys just played with Jack Ladder [at The Workers Club], how was that?

Thomas: It was great.

Jacky: Definitely an experience to play a gig where there was no opening support, normally there’s opener and then name – and we were technically both I suppose. For us, that’s really quite strange. We never thought we’d get the gig either. Beause Thom and I have obsessed over Jack Ladder a little bit, in the past and now with his forthcoming record and the song Cold Feet.
T: We really look up to them, huge admirers, we turn up and saw that they were nice people and we were very pleasantly… not surprised, but we were worrying about how intimidating it might be.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wrangling The Heard: May

Dads - Man of Leisure the side-project for Big Scary strummer Tom Iansek, who recorded a handful of ideas on some newly purchased recording equipment at the tail-end of last year. The result is Dads, which clearly certifies Iansek's abilities and serves as a testament to one of Australia's brightest new talents. Both as an arranger in its lush textures and production and as a songwriter with some heart-rending moments (oh, and further evidence that he is the vocal re-incarnation of Jeff Buckley). For the time being, Man of Lesisure is serving as a stop-gap while Big Scary finish recording their debut album, but this is no collection of offcuts, Dads is a worthy project all of its own and a fine, fine record.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Alpine & Al: An Interview

Alpine are one of Melbourne's most hotly-tipped up-and-coming acts. Their excllent debut EP Zurich is currently slaying it in the iTunes charts, accompanied by an excllent taste in visuals and a whip-tight live show. AMR was lucky enough to catch up with co-vocalist Lousia James and Christian O'Brien recently for an in-depth interview.

Sister Bella’s hole-in-the-wall chic may be the perfect kind of city bound waterhole for the more discerning, but as it turns out, it’s hardly ideal environs for an interview. Tonight in particular, it seems impossible to escape the bartender’s iPod selection of fast, heavy, loud. With a noisy soundtrack of screamo it’s sometimes hard to hear the pair.
In person, their conduct is far flung from the sleek, cool demeanour of their music, in fact they’re more like ‘the band next door’. The tall and shaggy Christian lends a relaxed vibe to proceedings while Lou is as winsome as her dance-happy stage persona might suggest. You do get the impression that they’re still a vibrant young band on the rise, not least because of the amount of name-dropping on hand; but for the record - the most charming kind of name-dropping there is, and never for pretentious bragging rights. It just seems to be that in their short, busy lives the members of Alpine have formed a tight little six degrees of separation with many a band along Australia’s East Coast.
After clearing the air of any potential most-hated questions (namely the old band name change and dreaded ‘what are your influences?’), there’s time to discuss anecdotes from the road, the writing process and even Bocce.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Δbsence makes the heart...

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard from Snowman, and as it turns out - the sad news is that we never will again. In the lead-up to the release of their third studio record, Δbsence (that’s with a triangle m’dear), the four-piece announced that they were to split, releasing the record ‘posthumously’. 
It really is the passing of a distinctly unique musical entity, they started as a bunch of chaotic rockers who took surf-punk and aggressive blues and mutated it into a galavnised mix of B-movie squalor and experimental abandon on their first two recordings, the appropriately titled Zombies on the Airwaves ofParis and their self-titled debut. However it was their sophomore, TheHorse, The Rat & The Swan that really saw the band undergoing something special. The result was one of the finest records of 2008 (as evidencedpreviously on AMR), a confident doctrine of brooding textures, cacophonic rhythmic battering and cathartic washes of shimmering feedback and iridescent instrumentation. The multicultural line-up of Snowman – Indonesian born Andy Citawarman, Joseph McKee, Ross DiBlasio and Olga Hermanniusson from Iceland  - had hit upon an alchemy that matched their crazed ambition and equally authoritative live show.

Leaving their home base of Perth behind, they then relocated overseas to record its follow-up. The resulting LP, Δbsence, contains many of elements from its predecessor; the warped Eastern scales and ghostly harmonies of Snakes & Ladders or the tribal drumming and layered chants that punctuate the (quite literally) animalistic lead single Hyena. Elsewhere the spikier moments have been traded in for warmer, ambient and electronic approaches to composition. White Wall grips with a hypnotic menace while Séance glowers with suitably spectral smoulder. The album then seems to waft towards a wraithlike fog of blissful oblivion through the hauntingly beautiful Memory Lost and unnerving yet mesmerising A Vanishing Act. By the time we reach the closing title track it’s clear that Δbsence is nothing short of a nocturnal triumph.