Words: James Frostick
Band image: Jake Ollett
Australian Idol – featuring members of Rebel Yell, Concrete Lawn and Set-Top Box – have released a pulse-quickening EP of blissfully dissonant techno through Parisian label Gone with the Weed. Here we have five tracks of disorienting and dystopian dance-floor mulchers created by kids disconnecting with reality in real time.
It’s been a while since I’ve thrown myself into the bowels of a heaving dance floor, and it might be many moons until I do so again. While careening around my bedroom or living room is an option if the urge to bounce takes me, it lacks the feeling of proximity and shared catharsis that clubs and gigs boast in spades. The whole ‘proximity’ aspect is something that we’ll all have to do without for a while longer, but the sounds still exist, which I suppose is something worth savouring. So here is some sound to relish: a new EP from Australian Idol – five tracks of glistening, dizzying thump. Members of the Sydney/Warrang-based quartet also perform in similarly dissonant acts such as Concrete Lawn, Rebel Yell and Set-Top Box, which should immediately clue you in to the sort of prickly pedigree informing Australian Idol’s signature brand of modulated wallop.
Although Australian Idol’s sound is intense and all-encompassing, the crew are savvy at deciding where to focus their energy. The bulk of the EP’s beats are wrought from simple drum-machine rhythms, a sturdy skeleton upon which elastic synthetic musculature and nervous system is attached. Similarly pared back is Jack De Lacy’s frugal use of vocabulary – their sparse lyrical economy is predicated on slurred repetition, drilling cryptic idioms into our brains over and over until we’re hypnotically chanting along. At the other end of the spectrum, Australian Idol’s synth work is expressive and impressive – at one juncture drain-circling whirlpools of sound have me gripping for purchase, at another heated sirens fill my ribcage and make me feel invincible. There’s abrasiveness and tenderness in spades – while opening track ‘Cash’ and immediate follow-up ‘Oil’ pick me up and lift me through space (faster and faster), mid-EP track ‘Love Song’ is relatively tranquil. It’s an earnest number that revels in the security and strength found in the arms of another (“By your side, spent our time chasing safety“). ‘Bags’ seems to grapple with a disconnect between media and real life, a passive consumption of frightful imagery that we can ignore because we’re “neither here nor there“. The EP’s closing track ‘Rain’ ends the collection with a dose of aching humanity – as the rain streams across their faces Australian Idol reckons with societal isolato, the storm rendering their disillusionment plain to see. As their tears merge with the downpour Australian Idol leaves us with nothing but a pulsing beat – our bodies battered, sure, but our skin is tingling and our souls galvanised. I can’t help but imagine the shared catharsis these tracks will encourage live – a vision worth holding close as we endure further isolation.
Australian Idol’s EP is out now digitally and on cassette via Gone with the Weed.