Record Reviews

Circle The Stains

Brisbane’s Per Purpose are made up of competing parts. Glan Schenau’s torn-at guitar and jolting vocals clash against Harry White’s flailing bass lines, while Joe Alexander tears across every part of his kit in fighting with the band’s cacophony. That they would then add Mitchell Perkins on a second guitar seems ill-advised, yet they continue to rein in control from the growing chaos. Every component is at war with the other, but the songs are held together by some vague memory of form or structure that lies obscured below the listening experience. Like damaged goods re-sold, it’s hard to imagine what could have gone wrong once the working product rests in your hands.

Per Purpose are deconstructionists who work at piecing together broken remnants. As is to be expected of the band’s other projects (Sky Needle, Cured Pink), even their rock record is played outside the box. They forcefully pry their songs apart before sloppily filling in the just-formed cracks and, when reconstructed, they appear only vaguely familiar to what the traditional rock spines suggest. It’s Australian rock ?n? roll as it always should be: hard, subversive, unrelenting and articulate without ever being haughty.

Schenau plays the vocalist like a performance artist, spitting broken warbles and bitter whispers through the sounds that blanket them. The meaning is never as important as the delivery, but that’s not to say their intent is irrelevant. A fragment like ?Resistance from the trunk? is grunted through ?Carthartic?; ?I could have bit harder? escapes the clamour of ?Made Mind?; and ?took a punch of it in your head collecting bodies? is partially murmured at the end of ?Own Accord?. These don’t act as parts of stories; they’re more like contextual place-sitters, signposts that describe the anxious or violent intent of the band’s thrashes.

The difference between this record and its preceding EPs (2010?s Heil Progress* and 2011?s *Implicating More Than One*) is time. Songs that would once be rabid cracks at half-ideas are now weighty explorations of the same. On *Circle the Stains, Per Purpose stop to pick at the scabs and, if some of the immediacy of the band is lost in their wayward prying, the depth that’s gained is worth the sacrifice. The surfaces may be smoother, but like a hatchet job left to rot before receiving repair, the features lying underneath are infinitely more interesting.