2311738901-1sleepmakeswaves – …and so we destroyed everything

[08/21/12]
[Self Released]

Two decades after Australian instrumental post-rock gods, Dirty Three, commenced their trail blazing career, it seems as if instrumental music is finally gaining some momentum in this country as audiences re-awaken to the fact that vocals are not an essential gateway to musical accessibility and emotional engagement.  In 2012, there were a number of interesting Australian instrumental releases, including from Kettlespider, Dumbsaint, and the Dirty Three themselves.  However, of all the Australian bands now trying their hand at instrumental music, the one with the greatest resonance appears to be post-rockers sleepmakeswaves, who in 2012 issued a United States release of their Australian Record Industry Association Awards nominated debut album, …and so we destroyed everything.  Consisting of four members only, sleepmakeswaves create surprisingly dense and layered soundscapes that are padded with electronics and suggestive of a larger complement of instruments, and evoke brightly vivid imagery such that the music has, at times, somewhat of a cinematic soundtrack quality…in a very good way!  Furthermore, like most post-rock albums, …and so we destroyed everything relies heavily on build ups and starkly varied dynamics as a means by which to stimulate interest within the listener.  However, the reasons, perhaps, why this album has such broad appeal are firstly that there is a noticeable Australian heavy progressive rock influence on the sleepmakeswaves sound, and secondly, that unlike many of the post-rock bands out there, sleepmakeswaves produce music that is wholly unpretentious.  To the contrary, it is generally upbeat, rarely repetitive, produced well, and feels like a genuine attempt to create emotionally involving music, rather than an exercise in demonstrating how much more musically enlightened and intellectual the band is than everyone else.  Have no doubt, sleepmakeswaves are a band on the move, and are a shining example of just how rocking and engaging instrumental music can be. – GS

4.5/5

 

2446692713-1Okera – A Beautiful Dystopia

[05/11/12]
[Self Released]

Even the most average cook or novice foodie knows that there are some ingredients that, for some reason, just go well together, their flavours blending in such a way as to not only elevate each ingredient’s unique qualities, but, as if by magic, create something greater, something intangibly more special.  So it is too with the increasingly prevalent fusion of doom and melodic death metal, and few bands better epitomise just how intoxicating this combination of styles can be than Melbourne’s own Okera, who in May 2012 released their debut album, A Beautiful Dystopia.  Slow in pace and somber in tone, A Beautiful Dystopia comprises just seven tracks, all of which are longer than five minutes, and three of which exceed nine minutes in length, which speaks to the ambition with which Okera pursue their art.  Pleasingly, this ambition is generally fulfilled, the band executing their compositions with patience, and timing their variations with a precision that ensures that despite their length, the songs are rarely mundane.  Furthermore, the restrained performances, particularly from drummer Elliott Sansom, ensure that the listener’s focus remains squarely on Owen Janusaukas’s beautifully reflective guitar melodies that meander, swell and soar above the thick and heavy atmosphere created by the distorted bass of Chris Bennetto and the demonic vocals of Jayme Sexton, it being especially powerful when, as at the mid-point of the opening and standout track, ‘The Black Rain’, Sansom and Bennetto play tacet in order to expose the delicacy of these melodies, before crashing thunderously and emotively back into the fray.  While A Beautiful Dystopia isn’t quite as polished as In Mourning‘s 2012 doom/melo-death masterpiece, The Weight of Oceans, there is something to be said for the comparison between these two releases, and with work, there should be no reason why Okera cannot aspire to achieve similar greatness. – GS

4/5

 

1582642035-1Idylls – Farewell All Joy

[05/16/12]
[MONOLITH]

Idylls are an Australian hardcore band who play kick-ass music. Their debut record Farewell All Joy came out in late 2012 and was a great record. From the minute the first song starts until the record is over you’re being assaulted with some filthy, chaotic hardcore. Surprisingly, however, where many bands fall is where they succeed. Many bands fall into a trap of releasing super hard songs then mellowing out towards the end of the record. Idylls made sure not to do such a thing, and it proved that you can still go soft, but that finishing strong is what it’s all about. For a first time listener one might compare them to bands such as Converge, The Chariot, and The Dillinger Escape Plan, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially because the band retain their own individual sound and never sound like a cheap knock off of any of those bands. Being their first LP-type thing (it’s less than thirty minutes long), it definitely leaves nothing to be desired. The brevity of the release makes for an easy way to listen multiple times, as well as a way to find those songs you really enjoy, which shouldn’t be an issue since there isn’t a bad song on this release. The mix is super polished but still gritty in all the right areas, because let’s face it, hardcore isn’t meant to be a “pretty” or “polished” form of music by any means. The players, especially the vocalist, are all on their A game. The vocalist Jordan Pulman has quickly become a favorite of mine, and after hearing his performance on here it won’t be hard for you to discover their previous releases and immerse yourself in some sweet hardcore music. The best part is that this band is just getting started. They have many great things ahead of them, and as a young band the promise of a bright future can mean more than anything else. So if you like hardcore music, Australians, red album artwork, or even if you just want to listen to a great record, then you should pick this up ASAP. - SS

4/5