Words: James Frostick
Band image: Jack Riddle
Cover art: Masato Taksaka and Lisa Radford
As we enter a new month we inch closer to the release of Melbourne-based post-punk outfit No Sister’s new EP Influence. ‘Burning News’ – the second track to be released singularly before the EP’s official drop– is an ominous and unsettling churner inspired by childhood memories. Although its origins are firmly rooted in past remembrances, the mental images that spawned ‘Burning News’ have found new meaning when considered in the context of the modern media landscape.
“Can you spot a flame in a fire? / Can you feel the heat up ahead? / Can you sense the shiver in the wind / I can feel it, in the air”
Ominous in its delivery, the opening lyrical fragments of No Sister’s ‘Burning News’ sets a discernible tone of discomfort. Uttered against a sonic backdrop of smouldering and skewed guitar crank and desolate, plodding percussion, the song is an unhurried manifestation of tension – a song carrying a sense of palpable stress. It’s a track born from memory, specifically that of band member Mino Peric – a vivid recollection of his youth in Tokyo, where his family burned old newspaper in the back yard, sending blackened fragments upward into the sky. It’s a profound mental image, one that obviously stuck in Mino’s mind for years before finding new life as ‘Burning News’. The accompanying film clip is simple but effective – cycled footage of melting celluloid film and newsprint, carefully wrought text sprinting past our view, never be seen again. The track could simply be taken literally as a recollection of those childhood bonfires, though I get the impression that the band is repackaging these memories into something more.
It’s not that far a mental jump to interpret the billowing ashes of charred newsprint as a metaphor for the disintegration of the press. The media is in crisis these days, what with the rise of anti-intellectualism and fake news having more of an affect on public opinion than vetted, researched fact. Toxic social media feeds are supplanting trusted sources, and the influence and power of (plus public trust in) the Fourth Estate is waning. Of course, media has never been an incorruptible force (history shows that in many instances it has helped solidify legitimacy of unscrupulous individuals and unjust systems), but it is being further perverted into a machine of manipulation. When No Sister’s Tiarney Miekus foretells of shivers in the wind and burning of the press, I can’t help but think it a prediction or ill omen of our current trajectory as a misled and misinformed society.
Influence will be released officially on August 23, but you can pre-order your copy ahead of time here. No Sister will launch the EP with a show on Friday 30 August at The Tote in Melbourne, supported by David Chesworth, Primo!, Premium Fantasy and Bodies. Tickets are available here.