Movement / The Marianas - Deep Where All Drown (Deep Where All Drown)
Although this intense Melbourne, moatly-instrumental, punk rock band (containing two ex-members of Venom P Stinger) has placed "Movement" first, "The Marianas" was recorded some four years earlier, so I decided to listen to that first.
Yes, this is a double CD set, and it’s not one of those purple burns either. Properly recorded (by Rick Ferrara) in a real paid-for studio, mixed by the band and mastered by head Spook Loki Lockwood, the band spent some time and serious dosh on this. They wanted us to hear it.
Er, yes, well, I do apologise for taking a little while to get to it, it arrived in my inbox a few months ago. (It came out in 2009 and - mea culpa - I lost it down the back of the lounge - ED.) Which turns out to be a good idea, as I don’t enjoy "Movement" as much as "The Marianas". I’m pretty sure the Drown’s pack is a four bottle item, so stop picking your nose and pay attention at the back.
Nick Palmer is the heavy, liquid bassist and occasional vocalist (think Wire circa 1977, the lyrics are also comparable), Alan Secher-Jensen handles the rather huge, inventive guitar and Charles Lockey either keeps up or keeps them up, I’m not sure. Either way The Drown have a whacking talent.
Remember all that shit about ‘fusion’ back in the '70s and '80s? Wasn’t it all terribly intellectual? Fusion was about as interesting as watching timber rot? Remember those godawful ‘jam sessions’ which noodled on forever without anyone really having a clue? Right.
Well, this is the modern world, and since then musicians have finally realised they either gotta have an original talent or a talent for covers to survive. The Drown? You could just about make a jazz comparison here, as the blokes follow their nose down some exciting corridors. You’ll doubtless half-recognise some riffs and patterns, but really it’s all their own work but fuck it you’ll be too busy bopping. There’s eleven songs per disc, by the by. You’re gonna be busy.
Not convinced? Imagine. Off his tits on mushies, before the gig Howard Devoto destroys the band’s keyboard and spends the gig hiding onstage from imaginary swarms of bees (leaving the vox to the least appropriate member) while Magazine get down and dirty.
Instrumentals are always difficult with r’n’r. Unless you’re dedicated to snapping fingers and awestruck feet (the superb Slingshot Dragster beckon), you’re always half on the listen for a singer to come in with something um, snappy or meaningful. On "The Marianas", the purpose and target of each song is clear, with or without lyrics. Very very few bands can pull this off. Even Can couldn’t always do this, let me tell you. Meantime, you’re too busy bopping round the living room. I never liked that lamp. And don’t get me started on those fucking china things your mum brought back. No, I didn’t, must’ve been the dog. No, I know we don’t have a dog but don’t bother me now, can’t you see I’m busy bopping?
And when I say bopping, I mean hard dancing. There’s a lot going on here. There’s stuff where you don’t expect stuff to be. The Marianas is a deeply pummelling thug of a disc which also gets right up your nose. You either gotta listen - or turn it off. In fact, you know those morons who have their radio with the bass-heavy rumbling dj so loud just passing the fuckers makes you remember the boom-boom of the womb? Yeah, The Drown are the most suitable retaliation for such intrusive gibberish. Snarling, apparently illiterate intelligence formed in such a way you hafta pay attention. And as I say, there’s a lot going on. And the green packaging does make you wonder.
Take one lyric; ‘White caps the stage/ Crow’s nest view/ An ecstatic crew/ Philippic clique/ Truants retreat’ (Spoiler Alert: the end to Crow’s Nest). The whole song is a metaphoric journey of the outsider self in - guess what? the modern world. As Palmer says, ‘lose society’.
You know what, I could listen to The Marianas over and over. I’ve heard it about four times today already. There ain’t that many discs I respond to like this. I might add I can’t believe there’s so little on the band out there in interweb land; this is a band your local ‘indie’ station should be picking up on - doesn’t matter if it’s not ‘current’, the best music always outlasts ‘current’ …
Now to Movement. Recorded by Brent Punshon at another paid-for studio four years later. Obviously the band felt they’d developed further and wanted to record their new music - but rather than release the first lp? Bit of a strange decision in some ways. If I have to use any comparison, I guess it would have to be Wire again, like out-takes from that superb Send period. I find myself wondering about the age of these guys, because by now they’ve developed their playing further.
Movement is a really good cd, but it’s not as all-encompassing as The Marianas. The music is sound, driving, dramatic and involving - and in some songs I hear spots where I’d expect a vocal to come in, which is distracting (Real Estate Pitch, for example, Snow or Free From Humans). It’s a pity in a way, the lyrics to The Marianas are sparse but so striking they really lift everything up. But that shouldn’t matter, just like the earlier brother, Movement is another remarkable record, one which you can cheerfully put on and let the house shiver.
Makes me wonder just what they’re like live - and whether The Drown ever recorded anything live.
And hey. I remember seeing now-famous The Mark of Cain here before they got themselves organised (being on Big Black’s bill helped, I think) and I’m telling you now, The Drown woulda left TMOC for dead.
The Drown are superb driving music, superb to annoy the neighbours (especially anyone with shit metal, pan pipe, world music or boy band taste) and quite frankly, if you work in the kind of office or factory where you’re forced to listen to JERKSHITFM and you want to get fired, put this on your desk, crank it just enough to be distracting and refuse to take it off. You’ll have your own favourites on these cds, and you will return to Deep Where All Drown, sometimes just to check that what you remember hearing was really what you heard. There’s a serious dreamer romantic streak in this band.
..but you gotta play it loud (and keep off the mushies, you pop kids)
Buy it on Bandcamp