Warning - this review has been done by a person whose head has been totally blown...
Zond are an Australian band that I didnt even know existed until about a month ago. Admittedly I have been out of the country for about three years, and a lot can spring up and die away in that time. Nevertheless I was surprised when I heard their debut, self-titled LP. Why? Because its a fucking brilliant aural assault, all aggression, squalling distorted guitars and distanced vocals. Its not new, but it does sound fresh - as if the early Blonde Redhead maintained the Simone Pace vocals and Sonic Youth no wave leanings, then stole Kevin Shields' amplifiers and hooked them up to an imploding power plant. Zond opens ubiquitously - 'Io' spend half of its five minute duration meandering through an ambient, grey soundscape - before we are hit with bolts of sonic blasts barely reined in by guitarists Marney Macleod and Justin Fuller, as if the track had a mind of its own - and this continues with tracks like 'Choam' and 'Blue Haze'. The engine room - anchoring bassist Stephen Thomas and eight-limbed drummer Tym Krasevac - could let this all become a reverb-drenched mess, but it is their manic yet measured interplay that pins down the Zond sound, thus rendering it irresistible. There are more pop-sensible song structures in songs like 'Stupid Gods' and 'Dunvegan Castle', whilst the coalescing phoenix that is 7 minute 'Blind' places all of these elements together into a prolonged schizophrenic orgasm.
This is the dark, dirty, dirgey kind of shoegaze that I am particularly fond of - and is not expected from the island continent. The fact that these guys excel is an even greater admirable feat.
So if, like me, you hadnt heard of Zond before, become very acquainted. This album is just their stepping stone. Furthermore, in June last year Lou Reed himself invited the band to join him at the Vivid Live Festival at Sydney Opera House (yes, that's right, Bardo Pond were there too...). I can see the connection - laconic, wasted, acerbic, austere, nihilistic, nebulous. If My Disco, another amazing Melbourne band, were to do the opposite of their intensely reined in minimalist miasmas, Zond would be the result.
Im a convert - join me.
Zond is out now on RIP Society Records.