In Review: TOTAL CONTROL – TYPICAL SYSTEM (IRON LUNG, 2014)

typical system

Much has been said about this record already, more than I could encapsulate. Some very articulate reviews have popped up and said everything true about this record, so what would I be able to add? Not much; but let me try anyway.

Typical System by Total Control is a special record. I’m not going to be the only one saying this, but it seems like it is an important record in the grand scheme of things. First things first, the music is phenomenal. Diversity manifests itself within the run-time of each song. Dystopian synth-punk fuses with its conventional guitar oriented, anti-establishment cousin and makes a mark. Better writers have said better things already.

On paper, Total Control’s line-up is impressive. The band members are a who’s who of top flight Australian musicians. James Vinciguerra, Zephyr Pavey, Mikey Young, Dan Stewart, Al Montfort and David West are all well respected members of the Australian underground scene (a scene that is gaining more notoriety every year). To put these musicians together seems like a no-brainer idea; theoretically they are always going to produce something interesting.

2011’s Henge Beat was an indicator of what this group could accomplish, it was new, it was aggressive, and it was Australian. The pulsing, twisting and at time furious music on their first LP was a kick in the arse for the Australian music audiences. We took notice; we started forgetting about the indie-rock of 2007-2010 and have since mostly embraced the weird, the uneasy, the jagged and the abrasive. Ideally this would be what I want Australian music to be known for. The memory of this record lingered and as Total Control started making waves again; the hype behind Typical System grew.

The reason I am so happy with this album is that it has made good on its promise. We music listeners are never owed anything, yet we place unrealistic expectations on musicians we adore because their music means something to us. For me, I wanted (and still want) Total Control to succeed so we can prove to the world at large that we are making something special down here – even if it takes our best musicians putting it together to make the world realise it. Our focus on making it in Australia limits our creative focus and carries the least deserving to the top. For too long we’ve been isolationist and our popular music just doesn’t cut it on a global scale.

The relief of seeing the recognition spread far and wide is palpable, as success is never guaranteed, even with musicians of Total Control’s calibre. The payoff is yet to be fully realised. This record is still new and the band is unlikely to do any heavy touring in the near future. The best thing about this record is that it exists – it is the record we can point to (and will point to in the future) and say “it changed things around here.” I could be wrong, but I hope I’m not.

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