Sunday 27 March 2016

PREMIERE - 'Bali Hai', a New Track From The Austerity Program Pre-Project Polonium

NB - this post, like the next seven over the next couple days - were all written last week, but a Blogspot fuck-up has kept them hidden away - until now. But it seems fitting that I launch this premiere on Easter Sunday - it's like setting Buzz the Bunny on fire on his birthday. Bon appetit.

One of my all-time favourite EPs - nay, releases - has been Backsliders & Apostates Will Burn by New York two-piece The Austerity Program. It probably isn't even their best effort to date - 2014's Beyond Calculation was delightfully brutal - but the way in which this four-track behemoth grabbed me by the throat and never let go - it was electrifying, a sensation that doesn't dissipate the more I listen to it.

Now the duo are still in a form of hiatus (well, have sequestered themselves into the bowels of the earth). So in lieu of a new album, it is Sonic Masala's absolute pleasure to be airing for the first time 'Bali Hai', a furious cut from the guys' pre-Austerity project, Polonium. How is this new? Simple really - while writing their new record, the duo went back to the original recordings, some ten years ago, and re-recorded them. In the band's words, Polonium was an idea to be a not serious metal band, then got serious, then not serious again. The vocal howls, the double bass drum attacks, the fucked-up time signatures that have become AP staples, started fermenting and congealing in these moments. And the result is ten track behemoth Seraphim, out next month, cross-referencing Bolt Thrower thrashings, Big Business bombast and early Melvins minimalism with seething heat and ground-level anguish - Big Black with busted balls, then. It was originally written by kids in isolation, desperately creating sounds that they themselves couldn't access - now recorded with the brutality and finesse of musicians 20 years their senior (though not necessarily wiser). Seraphim sounds out on paper like a curio, a document of an event that only two people witnessed. Seraphim plays out like a crossroads purging, an aural snapshot of souls being sold, contracts irrevocably signed in blood, shit and tears of laughter. 'Bali Hai' signs off the record and is typically frenetic and wild (and most like AP) - and seeing as it's also the title of a recent Better Call Saul episode, a show whose character arc is foretold (the guy goes to the dark side, regardless of his good intentions) and yet we revel in Saul's struggle with the light and dark parts of his psyche, in both humorous and violent measures - it seems bizarrely apt. Except with Polonium, they turn into The Austerity Program, which is better news for us all. Buy Seraphim here.

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