“Is it real? Is it real?” asks Luciel Brown throughout this potent follow up to the thrilling debut “Fictional Decision” by Leeds-based trio Drahla – PopLib’s essential song of 2016.
The song is due for release in April on the Too Pure label’s singles club. Coruscating bass sets a platform for a typically cool and mysterious sing-speak stream-of-consciousness artful wordiness.
The song builds through dense layers of sonic energy as guitars buzz and menace before pulling back, introducing saxophone – some of the best wild skronking saxophone since The Stooges “1970” from their “Funhouse” album in fact – and then re-calibrating the volume for climactic ending.
It all adds up to a powerful statement and the fulfilling experience of a song merging elements of post-punk with art pop and noise rock and leaving some mystery and intrigue in its trail of beautifully dissonant noise.
The only band I can think of who may have been within striking distance of what Drahla are doing right now was Sonic Youth at the absolute apex of their dark abrasive melodic cool, around the time of their 1987 album “Sister”.
I love the random acts of discovery that come via Bandcamp and people doing the simple act of sharing a link to something new. Sometimes what you hear invades your brain so quickly and completely that resistance is futile and you click ‘buy’and pay more than the asking price just because it is that good. Like Drahla and “Fictional Decision”:
It’s a simple idea. Bass, drums, voice and that quiet/loud dynamic we are familiar with from Pixies songs. Part spoken/ part sung/ part chanted words and phrases that are strange, mysterious, threatening (and also as artfully abstract as cut-up Broadcast song lyrics), are a familiar concept to minds perverted by years of the free-form imagination of Mark E Smith in The Fall.
But on this song by Leeds based trio Drahla these components – familiar concepts from post-punk and noise rock – are assembled and delivered in a way that allows them to take on new life and provide an an electric shock.
Maybe it’s the way that when the guitar comes in LOUD it’s just a blazing storm of dissonance and beautiful abstract fury. Maybe it’s the way that bassist/ guitarist and vocalist Luciel Brown maintains an air of indifference to the setting in which her incantations are delivered. Classic tension and release.
Either way, I’ve played this a dozen times tonight and all I can conclude is that I’ll be playing it another dozen times tomorrow… and after that as well.
Postscript: There’s a wonderful lo-fi synthpop/ artpop split release with Swords from a year ago which has two songs from Drahla. “Stereo Maze” gave me flashbacks to an old Amos & Sara cassette tape from a long time ago. The post-punk art-pop spirit is clearly strong in this band.
And then there is this enigmatic “teaser” for something I’d love to hear more from:
Day 8 of the unofficial Australian Music Month (in response to/ consequence of NZ Music Month in May) is the minimal angular oddness of ‘Ghosts’ by Hissey Miyake.
Their Facebook page describes them as ‘disco/pop’ and that’s a pretty good summary. Just not exactly the kind of disco/pop you might assume.
There’s certainly a bit of post-punk deconstruction going on here, and an approach anyone familiar with Bush Tetras or The Slits around the time of their ‘Cut’ album would relate to. But they take a step beyond reality too and into something even stranger.
Hissey Miyake are another on the fabulous Bedroom Suck Records roster.
Hissey Miyake – Ghosts from Mai Gryffydd on Vimeo.
Day 17 of the song-a-day-May NZ Music Month madness comes from Dunedin art-pop noise-punks Dinosaur Sanctuary. Fittingly for a Saturday, it’s “Weakened by the Weekend”
Dinosaur Sanctuary are one of the young bands released on Dunedin’s top floor underground label The Attic; a large, well-ventilated pigeon loft doubling as a dust-filled arts community space in downtown Dunedin.
They are the noisy garage rock vehicle for the substantial talents of Kane Strang, a young Dunedin musician featured previously this month in his baroque-folk-psychedelia solo form. Also part of Dinosaur Sanctuary is drummer Isaac Hickey from Astro Children – another PopLib favourite. Rass and Josh are the other two members.
“Weakened by the Weekend” is from “A Public Toilet Told Me Nothing Gets Better” which was released last September on cassette by The Attic (#AR009).