Wednesday 20 August 2014

Rise On The Stressed Waves Of Ruin

It's amazing to think of the bands that I tried on numerous occasions to get on a Sonic Masala bill to no avail. Blank Realm has probably been the biggest one to date to slip through the fingers (although both Dan Spencer and Luke Walsh have played shows in weirder forms), whilst Per Purpose was meant to play the first ever Sonic Masala showcase - the honour went to Glen Schenau's then other project Psy Ants. A much smaller band that I tried a couple of times to get on a lineup was Stress Waves. The lurking synth broiling brilliance comes from the mind of Errol Hoffman (To The North, Make More) with Nick Williams (Throes) on discombobulated vocals. Whilst Errol graced a Campfire Tales show as his solo guise Perfume Garden (which was great by the way), the Stress Waves shows have been few and far between, with Josh Strange (To The North, Quiet Steps) playing bass to beef these wrapped-in-plastic warbles to arrhythmic life. Lost Lustre, their three-song introduction to the world, floored me and made it onto the excellent Wood & Wire roster, whilst another EP in the shape of Lurid Abyss surfaced briefly like a bloated cadaver wrapped in black rose petals last year.

But now we have Orphic Ruin, their first proper album, out on cassette through Second Empire Media (You Beauty, the aforementioned Perfume Garden). This kind of coldwave regression doesn't come from Brisbane, the city of sweaty squats and necessarily bared flesh. Tracks like 'Selenic Visions' and 'Elemental Decline' feel much more suited to the nocturnal black-on-white netherscapes of northern Europe, complete with dark apparel and glazed, disdainful stares into the middle spaces, hair combed vehemently to one side, efficient fetishism. The fact that is is so effortless gives Orphic Ruin a sense of realism that defies the geography of its conception - an anguished gnashing of emotions, deliberately throwing back at expectations. Toneless moaning, distant laconic beats, all switched into other unexpected gears by the synth lines that can suddenly tear rays of light into the moping mix.

Maybe Stress Waves could play a certain festival in 2015, what do you say guys?

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