8 Track, LP (2012, Metal Postcard)
Related: The Emergency.
Eleven years running and just expanding from a two- to three-piece, Melbourne’s The Emergency have far from settled on a sound. Compare this third LP to the previous Dreams That Money Can Buy and you can certainly relate to charges of unoriginality. All sequencing and programmed beats, the former record was a symbol of the Eurodisco-resurgence-on-the-out they ascribed to in 2009. This one, with its lumbering drone through psych-induced electronica, comes close to joining a year of creative missteps that releases like Dylan Ettinger’s sci-fi epic Lifetime of Romance has already blundered into.
Still, there’s no denying that Last Exit is a decent listen. Distant vocals, drum echoes and samples waft in and out of earshot through a ceaseless though oddly calming prog universe, far away from the frenetic pace of modern living. And as much as you could finger their influences with a lazy tip towards a Liars-like buildup circa Drum’s Not Dead in ‘Thrills’ or a distinctly trending Krautrock-circa-Autobahn sentiment in ‘Holland Tunnel Drive’, it would be unfair to simply compare The Emergency to other outfits and discount their music entirely.
That’s especially when you consider the conceptual bearing of a band contributing to a wider cross-cultural discourse, perhaps despite themselves. Building on Silver Apples’ idea of electronic music played within a rock format, a live drums-to-synthesiser setup from new addition Cinta Masters (Useless Children) greets that stylistic union from the opposite direction. Where Simeon Coxe III carried his rock ‘n’ roll roots into a vital fusion with the Simeon oscillator in the ’60s, The Emergency’s Milo Kossowski (also of Bad Thoughts) and Morgan McWaters take their preoccupation with electronic production back into the organic realms of rock and psychedelia with the Cintasizer.
This time around, the band’s rhythm section is dependent not on electric circuitry but on a living nervous system – as Masters plays drums plugged into the resulting synth lines – while presenting some thought-provoking remarks on organic versus synthetically-generated sound. In much the same way that perfect symmetry in a human face is considered less desirable than one seen in all its defects, it’s the same quirks and imperfections sprung from this new live element that makes Last Exit a career standout for The Emergency. While being nothing revelatory, it has some decent tread at least.
by Steph Kretowicz