Words: James Frostick
Melbourne/Naarm’s Plastic Chairs have released a new four-track offering filled with frenetic and off-kilter post-punk jams. The combination of quick-stepping percussion, serrated and angular guitars, and a weighty low end create an intense listening experience that threatens to go off the rails in the best way.
From what I can gather, Plastic Chairs is a relatively new project, having emerged around the mid-point of 2019. They’re not exactly novices, though. The trio is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Stina Tester (Stina Tester | Cinta Masters), Lynton Denovan of Satanic Rockers on drums and a final mysterious figure (to me, at least) called Robot, who plays bass. The group has a few tracks online already, but this new set (an unofficial EP?) called Sleep Walking has really caught my ear.
I guess in broad terms one could classify Plastic Chairs as a post-punk group but, like always, such categorisations are reductive and don’t give a full picture of the band’s sonic depth. There are elements of jazz-inspired complexity in the drums and on several occasions the guitars dip into a surf-rock tonality. The elongated instrumental breakdowns contained within the track list hint at a sort of free-form improvisational origin – it’s almost psych-influenced, though definitely towards the a freak-out end of the spectrum than a blissful groove. It’s as if these tracks started off loose and amorphous concepts before being reined in and sharpened.
That’s not to say these songs don’t retain a chaotic, unpredictable energy through an imposed structure – I’m several listens in and it still feels as if the trio can break out into a trippy impulse-fuelled segue at any moment, especially in ‘Storm Surf’ and ‘Strange Exchange’ (plus one of the band’s terrific older tracks ‘Docklands‘). Even when the pace is tempered slightly by Stina’s hypnotic vocals, the eventual shifting of the gears is never something I am fully prepared for. Unpredictability seems to be a quiddity of Plastic Chairs, and it’s also what makes these tracks so damn exciting to listen to.
See for yourself: