Listen: ARSE – ‘SAFE WORD’

Words: James Frostick
Band image: Vinnie Botton

Sydney’s schizoid post-hardcore trio ARSE are gearing up to deliver a forthcoming LP – no doubt a package of dangerous goods best handled gently. Enclosed in the collection of aural shrapnel is new single ‘Safe Word’, which you can listen to from today. ‘Safe Word’ places us in within the manic maelstrom of excess – the point where we abandon care in pursuit of the high, but ARSE alludes to the all-consuming nature of the rush and how it only temporarily cures our ails before inevitably exacerbates them. 

We live in a world driven by a desire for pleasure and gratification. Chalk it up to the deteriorating mental state of our younger generations, society’s rampant consumerist agenda or just the rapid proliferation of products/substances that can make us feel nice, it seems like we’re just hopping from good feeling to good feeling – never waiting long enough to experience the cold, metallic tang of reality. We’ve been abusing our chemistry as long as humans have been able to manipulate endorphins and stimulate serotonin, so it’s hard to say if society’s melancholic undercurrent is the cause or the symptom of our enslavement to the high. Sydney’s ARSE don’t have an answer for me, but on new track ‘Safe Word’, they perfectly encapsulate the frenzy and double-edged nature of excess.

Pleasure and ecstasy / moderation is a myth to me

Vocalist Dan Cunningham hollers the opening line to ‘Safe Word’ along with a jumbled crash of guitar and drums. It’s a line that perfectly summarises humanity’s addictive disorder and lack of self-control, but he doesn’t stop there. Across two-and-a-half minutes of aggro hardcore – a cacophony that sounds as if it’s collapsing in on itself by the second – Dan laments the ‘pornography of progress’ that’s sucking the life out of his generation, and that perhaps we could reverse proceedings if we all collectively acknowledged the downward spiral we’re following.

The root of the problem / has an easy solution / I got the tools / but don’t know how to pick them up

Herein lies the biggest tragedy afflicting Dan and his peers – we’re all so affixed on the attainment of the material (and the chemical reaction that comes with it) that we are no longer empowered to think outside of this framework of excess. We chase away the pain with hits of manufactured (and fleeting) happiness, but the only way to be truly content is to work through the underlying issues generating this crushing sadness. This is where we’re not appropriately equipped. We don’t have the know-how to repair our brains or to consciously address our deep-seeded mental anguish. That’s why Dan want’s a safe word – he needs someone to pluck him out from this cycle of vices before he completely decays within and without. In that regard, I guess we could all use a safe word.

‘Safe Word’ is available from today through Grupo Records.