Premiere: EXEK – ‘UNETIQUETTED’

Words: James Frostick
Band image: Pia Hannah

Good news for fans of Melbourne-based proponents of post-punk-indebted gloom EXEK – the band has returned with news of a third LP. The record, entitled Some Beautiful Species Left, is dropping on September 6, and is a split release between France’s SDZ, Digital Regress in the USA, and Australia’s own Anti Fade Records. The record’s lead single ‘Unetiquetted’ is a slinky-and-irregular piece of outsider new-wave pop that hints towards a greater level of studio immersion.

It was in the early days of 2018 that lauded Melbourne noisemakers EXEK last gifted us a full-length album. The masters of subtle asperity dropped Ahead of Two Thoughts last January, and still I find myself listening to the record, marvelling at the cerebral writhe that is EXEK’s outsider nightcrawler style. Come September, EXEK will have another LP in its catalogue – Some Beautiful Species Left, another collection of abstruse compositions to feed upon. Leading the album’s announce cycle is the single ‘Unetiquetted’ – a track as hard to pronounce on the fly as it is to wrap my head around. Word of the album’s direction hints at a continuation boundary-pushing creativity, a furthering of post-modern experimentation that swivels between freeform DIY impulse and considered studio-based refinement. What the record actually sounds like is best left up to individual interpretation, but for the single itself I have a few notes.

Whereas much of Ahead Of Two Thoughts leaned into EXEK’s knack for penning skeletal and unsettling post-punk arrangements, it’s the band’s follow up EP A Casual Assembly that ‘Unetiquetted’ clearly draws its most direct lineage. The EP is a series of musical oddities that coalesce into a curious undertaking – more a study of synthesiser, trumpet and bass than a complete work. Both album and EP feature similar aesthetic hallmarks – minimalist composition,  a fondness for skewed sounds and Albert Wolski’s unhurried poetic musings – but I find it easier to draw parallels between the latter and the newness. That being said, I guess it’s natural in many cases that the most recent work would typically inform the genesis of the next.

‘Unetiquetted’ brings together some of the errant threads casually spun on A Casual Assembly, weaving them into an understated-but-engrossing track that shuffles askant like a malnourished skin-and-bone marionette-like figure. That’s not to say the song sounds thin and poorly wrought (none of EKEK’s tracks ever do) – more that it makes the most out of a limited sonic palette. A springy bass and bip-bip-bap drum beat set the foundations, while a spooky and floaty synth pulse hazily illuminates all. Unlike A Casual Assembly, Albert reins in his stream-of-consciousness prose into more of a sing-song vocal accompaniment. EXEK is a band that rewards repeat listening – ideas are more firmly grasped and nuances acknowledged when given time to ponder. I’m hesitant to cast my thoughts on the song’s subject matter as I’m not certain I’ve cottoned on to its lyrical meaning. That being said, the want to know is there, and much like EXEK’s previous releases, you can guarantee I’ll be mentally piecing together the puzzle of Some Beautiful Species Left in full come September.

Some Beautiful Species Left will arrive on September 6 through Anti Fade Records (AUS), SDZ (Europe) and Digital Regress (USA). EXEK will be touring Europe throughout September – you can view the current list of announced dates here.

BANDCAMP / SOUNDCLOUD