Words: James Frostick
Band image: Krister Bladh
Today marks the official release of SUPER-X’s debut self-titled album – a collection of head-rattling noise punk that delivers on the band’s early potential. Although blistering, bullying and blunt in tone and aesthetic, SUPER-X imbue their aural brouhaha with a rugged beauty that elevates the collection out of the murk.
I can only speak for myself, but the slings and arrows of this hellish year have made me increasingly receptive to loud music – the louder the better. I’m chalking it up to its effectiveness in obliterating boredom or gloomy thoughts. There’s just a discernible jouissance that comes with overwhelming my auditory faculties with voluminous noise – it’s like a hard mood reset or a purposeful flushing of mental detritus via a vicious torrent. The year’s had no shortage of vociferous releases (it’s as if musicians are responding to our ongoing predicament), but SUPER-X’s debut LP might be the record that manages to blow the most cobwebs out of my ears – an enviable title to hold, no doubt. The Naarm/Melbourne noise punks are officially releasing the album today via Spoilsport Records, following 2017’s three-track cassette demo of muddied proto-punk – considered rips that showed promise of a boisterous continuum.
The trio (comprised of brothers Harrison and George Ottaway on SUPER-X’s twin-exhaust guitars and Kaelan Emond tempering the two on the tubs) have made good on their early dissonant promise, crafting ten-track of supreme noise-punk verve. Theirs is a tumult that sits at the noisier end of the post-punk spectrum, with murky menace contoured by experimental interludes and compositional crinkles (ambient passages and a sprinkling of robust ‘wahh’ riffage) that hint at a healthy appreciation for psychedelia. Predominantly though, SUPER-X prefer to talk turkey with a relentless guitar-led assault (there’s no bass to be found in this bad boy, which is not a bad thing). Think formidable gusts of sound that kick up dust and rattle windows. The album is mostly unsettling swells and scorching plateaus, with only a few troughs; flinty furores make way for ambient detours (thematically titled after European airports, perhaps alluding to the group’s continental influences) before whipping up again into a steely squall – we’re simply buffeted along. This isn’t an overly speedy affair or an album built on brevity along the lines of garage punk – the Ottaway brothers happily dwell on moments of elongated disquietude, drawing out the build in intensity on tracks like ‘Terminus’, ‘Circle Form’ and ‘Turn To Black’ until their riffs are irrevocably imprinted into the soft flesh of my brain and their picks have long since melted in their fingers.
Lyrically the group offset their sneering menace with some heart-on-sleeve insight, howling about the addictive nature of infatuation on ‘Without Love’, self-harm (I think, could be wrong) on ‘One Cut’ and missed opportunities and wasted potential on ‘Could’ve Been’. The group’s economical use of syllables leaves a lot open to interpretation, but while SUPER-X aren’t super forthcoming when it comes to verbosity, it proves that a curated lexicon is sometimes better. At least in this case it’s makes each utterance more impactful. As the band wraps up proceedings, it’s hard to determine if the electrified gurgle of the outro is part of the song or if it’s our minds trying to fill the newfound silence. Either way, SUPER-X have managed to craft something singular out of maximal noise. Listen here: