Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Album Review: Total Control-Henge Beat

Total Control has built a nice reputation for itself over the past 3 years; releasing four equally acclaimed 7" of post-punk greatness. However, if it weren't for the band name being printed on the sleeve, one would think each single was by a different band. The first was manic herky-jerky guitar play, the second traced out synth post-punk, the third descended into pure minimal wave bleakness, withe the fourth concluding the saga on two tracks of synthy ambiance. The different styles actually worked though, spread out over the singles (and if one had an open mind to what was next to come). However, there comes the problem with creating their debut album Henge Beat. Which of the sounds created over the many singles is the one they choose to represent them on the LP? And the band came up with the perfect strategy: shove all their styles onto the grooves, and balance it by making all the songs great.

First, it needs to be said that Hedge Beat is a very cohesive record. Everyone of the eleven songs works in the context album, working very hard to avoid a large amount of juxtaposition (more on that in a second). It just doesn't achieve this through a singular sound. What the album does is present the songs, and bathes them in the same atmosphere and tone; that being one of paranoia, darkness, and claustrophobia. The harrowing and sparse "Meds" encapsulates this perfectly, a total sense of ;despair and nothingness. This in turn allows something like the synth built tension of "See More Glass" to exploded into the post-punk berserkness of "Retiree" despite how much the different styles would usual poorly contrast the album. Pretty much every of the band's past styles is represented in some form on Hedge Beat from the quiet, instrumental of "Shame Thugs" to the spaced out synth of "The Hammer". The only time the band's various sounds collide is with Hedge Beat's centerpiece "Carpet Rash", a sprawling 7+ minute track that shouldn't work within its context, but like a lot of moments on the album, does. It has the same angular and trebled guitar work of the post-punk tunes, but also the distant and robotic feel of the more synth based ones; mending both styles perfectly in combination to everything Total Control is.

One of the strongest debuts of the year, wildly different than everything that is usually being promoted (but would you expect anything different from an Australian band?). Wild and cathartic, yet controlled and precise: a mixture of contrasts that results in perfect post-everything style music.

(mp3) Total Control-See More Glass
(mp3) Total Control-The Hammer


Total Control on Bandcamp
Get Henge Beat here, from Iron Lung Records

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