Listen: PERMITS – ‘IT TAKES A LONG TIME (TO BE FREE OF SOCIETY)’

Words: James Frostick

Emerging at a pivotal time is Permits, a band comprised of a murderer’s row of acclaimed Naarm/Melbourne-based musicians. Originally an outlet designed to document and house abandoned songs and musical concepts, the group (comprised of members of The Shifters, Pop Singles, Chook Race and Dag) have utilised the recent lockdown period to bring these disparate ideas to life for a forthcoming album out in November via Tenth Court. Lead track ‘It Takes A Long Time (To Be Free Of Society)’ channels feelings of societal malaise via sun-dappled melodic jangle – a genre each member has helped shape separately, now executed flawlessly together.

I would imagine any musician’s published catalogue is orbited by a collection of half-realised ideas or never-completed attempts. Various bits and pieces of work – the ones that that didn’t quite fit at the time – are commonly set aside for revisiting at a later date (or forgotten about entirely), which means for every piece of music released there is a likely a sizeable chunk of material that never progressed past its infancy. Between the members of Permits – that being Tristan Davies (The Shifters), Tam Matlakowski (Pop Singles), Rob Remedios (Chook Race) and Dusty Anastassiou (Dag) – the pile of unpublished ideas must be gargantuan. Separately prolific, the group have formed Permits as a repository for leftovers from their respective projects, likely contributed in the hopes that a process of perspective and inspiration sharing could give these fragments some legs. The group have seemingly accomplished their goal of giving these tracks a second life, recording overdubs and mixing their recorded effort (originally laid down in 2018 with Jesse Williams of Girlatones) while the lockdown dragged, emerging out the other side with Time Permits. It’s a fitting title – one that alludes to a mentality of only revisiting ideas “when time permits”, usually the biggest inhibiting factor to following through. Well, if there’s one thing lockdown has done for creative types, it’s given them an abundance of time to look back and reassess.

‘It Takes A Long Time (To Be Free Of Society)’ is the first song from Time Permit’s ten-strong track list to hit the web, and it looks to be starting the album on a poignant mood. With the names attached to the project, it’s not hard to envision Permits’ aural aesthetic before listening. To confirm, though, the group has crafted an effortless evocation of the breezy and shaggy pop-laced indie sound they each help further in their respective projects. Lightly bowed and wonky interweaving guitar tones, a scuffed percussive shuffle and a robust organ comprise most of the palette, with a tempo that sets a clipped yet contemplative pace. Here, Permits ponder the complexities of contemporary living – especially how many of the nuances of life require years of experience to understand. The crew subtly hint at the unfair stacking of odds and how things can be geared towards keeping people down. They surreptitiously allude to how people and our surrounds aren’t always how they appear. Permits gesture broadly towards the gargantuan machine we exist to maintain, intimating at how it takes a good long while to dismantle it into something that operates for everyone.

Time Permits will be released digitally and on cassette on November 26 via Tenth Court. Pre-orders can be made here