7 Track, LP (2012, Time No Place)
Recorded in an isolated cabin betwixt Australian summers in the Blue Mountains, Eora is an incredibly evocative debut album, almost visual in its conjuring of dark times and places from the ghosts of our country’s history. Castratii succinctly introduced us to their goth-gaze aesthetic on the sadly-overlooked 2009 EP The Music of Chance. Here they smear on even more of the bleak greys and blacks from this sonic palette, but also put it to much more satisfying thematic use. Whilst witch house might have spawned from the global nowhere of the web, it’s a genre that’s uncannily apt for exploring the haunted Australian landscapes that Eora documents.
The almost martial pendulum swings of these tracks, thick with prickly textures, give you a beautiful sweeping feeling, alternatively evoking low passes over vast, barren expanses of desert and bush and the reeling sensation of getting stuck within them. This reaches its zenith on ‘Limits’: melancholic, chrome-plated guitar peels give way to sandblasted kicks from an archaic drum machine, as guest vocalist Liela Moss’ mystical chorus rises to find light amongst the gloom.
At other times Eora reaches a more parched horizon, with the atmosphere of ‘Monolith akin to a long comedown and ‘Descent’ evoking gum trees bathed in moonlight, abandoned homesteads and agoraphobic expanses of bush. Penultimate ‘Kingdom’ sounds like the Tron: Legacy soundtrack if Crystal Castles were handed the reins, summoning Mad Max-style wastelands at the end of the world. But the standout is ‘The Hanging’, which, when heard through headphones, is truly terrifying. With a title suggestive of Picnic at Hanging Rock, the song also replicates the same unnerving squall from the soundtrack to Peter Weir’s 1975 film version. It’s like gazing into the abyss and it staring right back at you – the wilderness within our hearts.
This is also a pronounced lyrical motif throughout, of psychic horrors and personal misconnections. Uniting the musical and poetic halves of the album suggests a single vision of both a personal and national inscape of geographic desolation. Like the lonely, wordless bushranger of Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series, whose transparent helmet not only signifies the piercing ubiquity of the land but also the emptiness of the figure placed within it, Eora is obsessed with mapping a disturbed relationship to the land itself, the horror of dislocation and isolation.
by Lawson Fletcher