Words: James Frostick
Artist image: Carolyn Hawkins
On October 2 Alien Nosejob will drop its second full-length LP of 2020. Once Again The Present Becomes The Past is an adventurous concept record focusing on the 1942 Bombing of Darwin, examined through a hardcore-punk lens. Today we’re premiering lead single ‘Airborne Toxic Event’ – a galloping heater that strikes quickly and relentlessly.
Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants / Hierophants / Leather Towel / School Damage) is the music-making equivalent of a perpetual-motion machine. Cog’s are always spinnin’, fingers are always workin’. I never pegged him for a history buff, but perhaps he’s always readin’, too. Not content with one Alien Nosejob album in 2020, Jake’s got another bubbling away on the stove as I type – a curious collection of songs focusing on a particular moment of Australia’s wartime history. Once Again The Present Becomes The Past is a record of whipping hardcore, each track linked thematically and centred around the infamous Bombing of Darwin, which took place in 1942. This particular conceptual turn isn’t one I could have predicted before (nor is it an event I’m overly familiar with), but this sonic pivot back to speedy white-knuckled punk shouldn’t come as a surprise. On Alien Nosejob’s five-track EP HC45 (released in February), Jake switched from the genre slaloming witnessed on January’s Suddenly Everything Is Twice As Loud in favour of a vociferous set of tightly wound gabble. On Once Again … he’s expanding upon it, making his fingers bleed and shredding his vocal cords across 14 tracks – one of which we’re hearing today.
‘Airborne Toxic Event‘ dives in from above, an aerial assault descending from the clouds to send everyone on terra firma scrambling for cover. Without warning it opens with a squall and rapidly shifts gear up into a pummelling hardcore-punk sprint – drums tumbling at a hasty clip, guitars pulling triple duty as chainsaws and wood chippers. Jake’s signature angst-riddled vocals are pushed to the fore, straining and cracking while yowling about encroaching clouds of toxic gas (“Every time I take a breath / brings me closer to my death / oxygen, looks like smoke / water looks like Diet Coke“). As the riff kicks up the surrounding plumes, it’s hard not to feel a little light-headed too – I can almost feel the noxious fumes filling my lungs.
Like Jake, history is also a perpetually moving thing. Given enough time, history’s relentless march reveals patterns of repetition. Perhaps Jake’s fascination with the Bombing of Darwin is, in a sense, a critique on the cyclical nature of things, along the lines of “What has happened will happen again” and “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”. Perhaps folks in 1942 had the same feeling of unease as we’re experiencing now – an inexorable march towards ruin akin to the looming threat of world war. That might be a reach on my part, but on ‘Airborne Toxic Event’ when Jake screams that “everything’s turned to shit“, I can’t help but feel it also applies to shit we’re dealing with now.