Premiere: THE NATIVE CATS – SPIRO SCRATCH (ROUGH SKIES RECORDS, 2018)

Words: James Frostick
Image: Lou Conboy
Record art: Molly Dyson

A few months removed from the release of one of their most accomplished works (and a personal album-of-the-year contender) John Sharp Toro, The Native Cats are putting forth a new three-track 7” EP. Spiro Scratch is an epilogue of sorts; one that sees the acclaimed duo embarking on a new chapter with a clear sense of identity, unburdened by the demons that were exorcised in their still-resonant LP.

The process behind The Native Cats’ most-recent record John Sharp Toro involved more than just musical composition and refinement – it also marked the achievement of personal milestones such as affirmation of identity and an evolution of self. Although it’s already been discussed at length, Chloe Alison Escott’s transition formed a crucial thematic base for much of the record, if not its fraught emotional earnestness. It signified an unleashing of thoughts, ideas and feelings surrounding personal actualisation and the unequivocal bucking of normativity. After such an enormous expulsion of grief and confusion one would be forgiven for thinking that The Native Cats might linger in this period of peace a while longer before gifting the world with more recorded content, but then again The Native Cats are rarely ones to submit to expectations.

The pairing of Chloe Alison Escott and Julian Teakle has kept forward momentum rolling for a new three-track release called Spiro Scratch. It is a small clutch of songs about turning one’s gaze upward after years taking in the details of the ground, fighting for just causes and living life after emerging from years of stymied growth. Spiro Scratch’s three tracks, ‘Preservation Law’, ‘Olivia’ and ‘Metre des Archives’ play like a sonic sampler of styles – frenetic bass-fuelled release, empowering waltz and minimalist space-age stomp, respectively. Across all three songs, Chloe similarly offers up a spectrum of emotions, from the pressure-valve release on ‘Preservation Law’, to the quiet confidence of ‘Olivia’ and reflective poise of ‘Metre des Archives’. There’s a new freedom evident here – a comfortableness and energy that makes each track pulse with life. It’s hard to articulate properly, but there is a line in ‘Olivia’ that I think showcases Chloe’s newfound confidence and comfort within her own skin.

I can see that there’s a cull and I’ll fight to make the cut, but I’m feeling kind of proud of all the space I’m taking up

Listen for yourself:

In reality, I feel that Spiro Scratch is not an addendum or addition to John Sharp Toro, but rather a prologue for the next chapter of band. There’s a thrilling freedom instilled in this release, and it heralds some exciting potential to come. Chloe’s journey of personal acceptance now flows into a battle for acceptance from society at large, but thankfully Chloe doesn’t walk alone. For now, the band are going on tour! The details are as follows:

Friday November 16 – Thornbury Theatre VIC with Nun (album launch), HABITS X ASPS & V
Saturday November 17 – Theatre Royal Castlemaine VIC with Nun (album launch) & EXEK
Friday November 23 – Westival at the Brisbane Hotel TAS with Slag Queens, All The Weathers, Terrorbrawl + more
Saturday December 8 – Meredith Music Festival VIC

Spiro Scratch will be released officially through Rough Skies Records on Wednesday November 28. Get your pre-orders in now.

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