Words: James Frostick
Banner image: Nicola Leone

After three years of work, Empat Lima is on the precipice of dropping its debut full-length album this Thursday June 28. Cling Clang Clutter showcases the Melbourne trio in full flight, soaring through styles and mind states across 45-odd minutes of astounding and perfectly executed free-wheeling pop madness. Diverse, distinct and downright irresistible – Cling Clang Clutter is a celebration of sound, paying homage to inspirations new and old. We’ve got an early listen for you to devour.

It might be an overused platitude, but Empat Lima is a band that really does defy convention. At a bare minimum, one could paint with a broad strokes and pigeonhole the unit as proponents of surf-garage pop, but it would be a gross injustice. Band members Steph Brett, Sooji Kim and Carla Ori chew apart styles and ideas like they’re nothing – riffing through sonic sets like they were born with a built-in musical lexicon. Cling Clang Clutter – the group’s new album – showcases the trio’s depth and attention to the little details. With some songs dating back to 2015, the record is a document of a extensive period of creation that charts the band’s progression since their debut EP Satu BOOM! For this record (and their music in general) the group has drawn inspiration from great women in music, utilising a wide, globe-spanning lens to capture disparate pieces of sound, filtering them into a potent and engaging concoction. Empat Lima’s ability to take these influences and blend them into a sublime package (while also doing justice to the sounds that inspired its assembly) makes Cling Clang Clutter a must-listen record.

The name of the album almost indicates that the work is a ramshackle amalgamation of pieces cobbled together – but that’s not the case. Sure, the sounds can vary from song to song, but it never comes across as confused and directionless. This is especially impressive considering the album was recorded across three years and three sessions. One of Empat Lima’s many talents as a collective its ability to imbue each song with a unifying soul and energy. Whether it’s the bouncy bass-meets-twang of ‘Canteloupe’, the mesmerising down tempo sway of ‘Passage to the Golden Sky’ or the coarse freeform snarl of ‘Fire Dragon’, each movement boasts a signature vigour – a thread that tethers the amalgamation together and makes it resonate. An individual’s mood is rarely static, so why should an album be anchored so?

This stylistic shrewdness keeps Cling Clang Clutter puttering along smoothly, with the only lulls being purposefully interspersed to let you catch your breath. Like the musical styles, Cling Clang Clutter’s lyrical content is hard to pin down. The band is equally at home telling stories about childhood crushes as they are weaving tales Japanese ghosts of the underworld. Regardless of content, the way Empat Lima utilises vocals as another textural element is sublime, providing a comprehensive and complete package from head to toe.

I see Cling Clang Clutter as a timeless and endlessly enjoyable record. The band is constantly one step ahead of the listener, zigging and zagging and keeping us on edge but never off side. It’s vibrant, colourful and imbued with a verve that is infectious. Empat Lima’s debut LP deserves to be shared and heard far and wide, if only to show how to properly refine inspirations into a unique and inspirational property in its own right.

Give it a listen:

Cling Clang Clutter will be released officially on Thursday June 28, but you can get your orders in now. Empat Lima will be wasting no time post release, hitting the road and touring through the end of June and through July. The band’s dates are as follows:

Thursday June 28 at Polyester Records, Melbourne
Saturday June 30 at Greaser Bar, Brisbane
Sunday July 1 at The End, Brisbane
Thursday July 5 at Franks Wild Years, Thirroul
Saturday July 6 at The Golden Age Cinema, Sydney
Saturday July 14 at Brunswick Bowls Club, Melbourne
Sunday July 22 at The Bridge, Castlemaine

More tour info can be found here!