In Review: BASIC HUMAN – CASSETTE (MEATSPIN RECORDS, 2018)

Words: James Frostick

Sydney punk outfit Basic Human dropped its debut release in mid-April like a lit explosive, dispensing with pleasantries and choosing to deliver its statement of intent at max volume. Cassette packs gnarled lyrical utterings that savage the soul and the status-quo, propelled along by ruthless noise that’s a step up from being primal, but still not too far removed from the primordial soup.

Last month a low rumble could be discerned emanating from the centre of Australia’s largest city. Basic Human trundled on to the scene and quickly delivered its debut short-form release Cassette – a beautifully dissonant collection of tracks that binds fury to force and directs it squarely at the chest. The four-piece consists of some names that might be recognisable to those that track the noises emanating from the Sydney punk set. We’ve got Daryl Prondoso (Phone, Sex Havers) with the pipes, Mia Grosz (Crane Games, Family, Pee Wee) slinging the guitar, Max Easton (BB & The Blips, Dry Finish) on bass and Del Lumanta (Video Ezy) on tubs. Cassette dropped recently on Max’s own label Meatspin, which has had a mighty fine start to 2018.

When it comes to tunes, the unit chooses to keep it simple. The crew has honed in on a formula of driven and relentless repetition that acts like a drill, boring through to the skull’s soft interior whereupon Daryl delivers his style of wisdom, his criticisms and revulsions (of the self and others), leaving fragments seared and branded onto the brain lobes. Those fragments in particular run a gamut of topics across the six-song duration, punctuated by searing guitar riffs and anchored to the ground by the ever-present rumble of the low end and percussion. Part snarl, part shout, Daryl lays into the listener – simultaneously condemning himself and those around him with verbal lashings that leave listeners raw.

To my ears, Cassette seemingly dissects elements of the self, weighing up the undesirable parts with a grim resignation and indignation. On track one – ‘Rat’ – Daryl kicks of proceedings with a terse fragment, “still finding pleasure in my shitty decisions / still finding ways to shift all blame” – an acknowledgement of fault and his excuses to not be his best self. In this instance he pits himself against opposition, a force that draws the worst out of him and stokes the need to be used. Is he happy with this situation? It’s hard to say, but when he follows up in ‘Bad Habits’ it still seems like he’s under some sway, buffeted by impulse and desire – control isn’t entirely his. ‘Adult Baby’ dips into puerile behaviours, revelling in the filth and owning it.

The second half speeds things up somewhat, with ‘Morning’ grappling with an interpersonal disconnect – a relationship fragmented yet tethered by grim stubbornness and toxic addiction. “I’m the one you’re lonely with and I’m the one you’re only with.” It’s like two broken clocks ticking in a house, both right twice a day but never at the same time. ‘Forgot’ looks at failure, good intentions, letting others down, doing nothing and expecting different results. “I’m doomed to try, not for the first time.” Crunchy finisher ‘Authentic Living’ spits outward, criticising the establishment and skewering half-hearted attempts to establish equality and delivering basic human needs.

At the end of Cassette my head rings, but it’s not unpleasant. It’s like sand has been blasted out of my ears and I’m thinking a bit clearer. As far as positive starts and first impressions go, Basic Human nailed it. If there’s more coming soon, consider me eager for seconds.

Cassette is available digitally and on, well, cassette through Meatspin.

BANDCAMP / SOUNDCLOUD