Monday, February 11, 2013

Australasia - Sin4tr4 (2012)

If you were so inclined, take a glass of water from your preferred source (tap, bottle, garden hose, etc). Add a single ice cube, one that had been given a healthy dose of red food coloring. As you watch that cube melt away, releasing its stain into the glass, you would begin to fully understand what it is that Australasia have accomplished. This duo from Italy have made it their promise, "melting heaviness into post-rock," a vow that they not only intend to keep, but perfect. Focusing mainly on the instrumentals, minus the use of scattered spoken passages, you find a marriage of two species that are separated only by the smallest of characteristics. But with the help of some deft drumming, a penchant for memorable riffs both heavy and heavenly, and the open mindedness to make them all fit together, the seven songs contained on "Sin4tr4" not only inject that colored water into your glass, but it may have you thinking red liquids are the new clear.

With an overwhelming clarity and depth of sound, melodic riffs open "Antenna." While it may sound like a given at this stage of the digital era, it is the clear production work that allows the track to ebb and flow so perfectly from start to finish. Those lightly strummed chords and basic drumming tempos quickly evolve into something far more impressive. Without being overbearing, there is an assertive quality to the heavier moments that is both welcomed and admired. It makes you wonder how a band can go from one extreme to the next, and end it all with lightly strummed guitars and the tickle of bells. Having already put the beast into motion, "Spine" comes out of the gate with a far more aggressive approach. The structure that raises up from a foundation of rattling drums is one of strength and unwavering attention to detail. Fast or slow, heavy and light, are all treated with the same care. The layers of guitars and their ringing distortion continue to push each other higher and higher into your consciousness, eventually bolstered by electronic tinged pulses that, while sparingly used, leave a lasting impression. Those blissfully short, "Apnea" may reign as the most awe inspiring song on the album. With a female voice crooning over a cornucopia of beats and breaks, it is simple, yet effective.

In a fitting rebuttal, "Scenario" sees the return of the booming kick drums that we heard earlier, but with a flurry of astonishing black metal drumming attached. The machine gun snares match perfectly with the furious picking and strumming, taking on so many elements of the shoe gaze genre, without being content to coast gently into the night. For the second time, the use of spoken word completes a well rounded offering. Just as subtly, "Satellite" fades in, an ethereal haze of plucked and echoing notes, floating through space. And while there may not be the only massive blowup that you expect, what you receive in its place may be more powerful. It is in these more refined moments that you find something inspiring. And while the synths on "Retina" may sound half space age, and half eighties pop, they are completely necessary. Forming the stable foundation allows the wall of distorted guitars to crash down like a tidal wave. The pairing of those guitars with first a softer tapping, then a blasting chorus of percussion shows versatility, as well as craftsmanship. And while the sweeping winds of "Fragile" may come and go, the track itself has a lasting beauty that won't fade. One part whimsy, one part cinematic genius, you would be hard pressed to find a song that more perfectly defines an album.

Metaphors aside, it is easy to find yourself impressed with what you find on "Sin4tr4." This isn't a mediocre stab at something slightly new, and mildly interesting. There is something special to be had here; something that while not entirely original, is done with all of the bravado and skill necessary to start the ball rolling in a brighter direction. Australasia make a promise with their various websites and descriptions, but they make good on it with every passing note, something that deserves a just amount of credit. And whether you think this is good traveling music, relaxation music, the music for your next movie, or just a nimble piece of post rock and metal fusion, it is safe to say you will keep coming back to it time and time again. There is something to be said about a style of music that is beautiful, bombastic, and all without a hit of pretentiousness.


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