Words: James Frostick
Band image: Jacob Miller
Sydney crew Bushing are putting final pieces in place for their forthcoming debut LP Thanatophobia, ratcheting up activity with a brand-new clip for recently released single ‘X I A N X P’ (pronounced ‘Christian Experience’). An ominous slab of art-punk noise, ‘X I A N X P’ dissects that narrative surrounding Australia’s early settlement culture and the gradual dissipation of religious spirit over the ensuing generations.
I’m not particularly spiritual or religious in any way these days, but I don’t have any inherent issues with those who are. In some ways I envy those with unyielding faith in a higher power and belief in an eternal afterlife, though I’m personally at odds with large religious institutions and their institutional processes/teachings – many of which I believe to be hypocritical. But I will admit that it can’t be easy to be a person of faith these days. The society’s evolution and gradual turn towards progressive ideals has seen a shift in modern Christian existence. These days, it seems that the openly religious facet of our population is a vocal conservative minority that belies a multitude of quiet individuals who are grappling with a crisis of faith in the face of the globe’s advance (albeit slow) towards a more equitable and accountable existence. Even the admission of being religious might cause more than just a side-eye glance from left-leaning folk, signifying a newly formed stigma emerging in the mindset of our younger generations. It’s interesting then that Sydney-based art-punk troupe Bushing has elected to boldly embark on a deep dive into Australia’s religious and colonial foundations with their most-recent single ‘X I A N X P’. Through a doom-laden punk lens, the group is attempting to glean some insight into the minds of the quiet masses – a part tongue-in-cheek endeavour but one that is also earnest and engaged with the subject matter.
The track is best described as a commentary on the ecclesiastic undercurrent that guided much of Australia’s dark and morally bankrupt settlement period, as well as the gradual demise of faith over time. Keenly interested in the death of God in many households, Bushing is curious about what is causing many to abandon their faith. ‘X I A N X P’ is an exploration of an inner conflict amongst those who chose to indulge in atrocities under the guise of a religious mandate, and those who quietly abstained only to be wracked with guilt over not being devout enough. A main refrain that the band offers up (“We’re riding on the corpses of the gods / Pretending that they never were“) seems to refer to either the purposeful extinction of other faiths in favour of the creed of the one-true God, while also alluding to how many of those descended from the European colonists now exist outside of the religious bubble – casting away the faith that helped propel them to the top as the dominant collective on the continent. Another line (“I’ve been sitting here thinking I haven’t been sinking in electric fields of opium“) hints at the addictive allure of the new and how technological advancement has sucked the zeal from many, leaving many who pay lip-service to the faith, no longer practicing what they preach. Adding weight to this theory is the track’s accompanying visuals, which positions the band (dressed in colonial and religious garb) in front of Sydney landmarks. This sharp contrast between old and new serves to highlight the archaic and out-of-place nature of religion when framed against the bustle of a modern metropolis. There’s a lot to unpack here, and kudos to Bushing to electing to wade into the topic resolutely. The band’s brand of visceral and abrasive noise is a fitting soundtrack to this mental dissonance. The title of the band’s forthcoming album Thanatophobia (otherwise known as the fear of death) promises more meaty thought experiments – hopefully plenty of substantive material to sift through when the time comes.
Thanatophobia is due around mid-late 2020 – keep your eyes peeled for more from Bushing ahead of its arrival.