Low Company / UK / 2023
The sixteenth and final release on Low Company Records is Static Cleaner Lost Reward’s gonzo dub-pop melter Breathing Under Honey. An aquatic ruin zone of echo-distressed, loop-me-crazy song-forms, zonked exotica, slacker-techno and crudely soldered, seasick cyberpunk.
This album - which has been finished for nigh-on three years, sorry - is just the latest expression of Australian artist Tarquin Manek’s powerful and inimitable gift/curse, arriving ten years deep into his career as major player, and enabler, in a now rightly revered seam of the Melbourne/Naarm underground: releasing an array of solo music (LST, Silzedrek, Static Cleaner Lost Reward); co-producing albums by YL Hooi and Carla dal Forno; playing in cult groups Kallista Kult and F ingers (the latter with dal Forno and CS + Kreme’s Sam Karmel); appearing on labels like A Colourful Storm, Blackest Ever Black and Efficient Space.
The nine tracks here showcase both a keen taste for timeless pop umami and a super-evolved grasp of mind-pranging dubwise psychoacoustics; an intermeshing of DIY concrète chaos and supple, locked-on rhythm mechanics that feels not so much futuristic as…extraterrestrial.
Lesser acts have built entire careers on songs less poignant than the semi-improvised, elegiac guitar-synth whirlpool that opens the album (‘Stones On The Beach’). ‘Submerging Emergency’ comes over like a Pet Sounds instrumental that's been heavily irradiated and then held forcibly underwater, growing gills and swimming off to join a shoal of coral-dwelling Ethio jazz(mer-)men. ‘Basic Trouble’ is mutant post-punk dancehall, Manek’s part-dissolved vocal trailing in the wake of a steamrolling, almost Maurizio-esque bassline. ‘Brigade Spinnet’ is shimmering new-age-outlaw noir, Vincent Hanna surveying the sun-bleached rooftops at dawn and dreaming of sleep. “All I am is what I’m going after…”