Album Review: Little Desert – Saeva

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Sit down. Don’t bring anything with you, you won’t need it. Just the bare essentials. Strap yourself in. No, really, ground yourself so that you are physically unable to move. Get comfy, you’ll be in this position for precisely 35 minutes and 29 seconds. That’s how long it takes for Little Desert’s debut album to wash over you. Peaks, troughs, all of it – it’s a musical lobotomy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-style. It’s the most brilliantly theatrical album of 2015, and you heard it here first.

After gently teasing this album for the past six months, with the two singles “Captive” and “Resurrection” causing a bit of a stir, Little Desert have finally dropped Saeva, and it’s fearsome. They could coat the album in serrated blades loaded with disease –  one prick and you’re a dead man – but it wouldn’t make the record any more dangerous. It rears and plunges, shakes its mane, refusing to be anything less than an immersive, devouring work of art.

The first thing to notice about Saeva is how ghoulish this thing is. And not in the sort of Addams Family, jokey way; boo, gotcha hahaha. No, there is the definitive scent of a corpse that haunts this album. The next noticeable aspect is that Little Desert prove they are the lords of the crescendo, continually building songs from rubble into spectres that chase the viewer into dark corners. The ghosts are there, hammering on the doors to come out; they’re embedded in the cries of Esther Rivers, the panicked guitar stampedes, the tense synth riffs. Everything is buckling under pressure, running at a desperate pace, trying to escape. Take “Captive”: it rises, slowly, slowly, begins to scurry, in a zig zag, menacing repetition one moment, blistering guitar solos the next. It reverts back and forth, dizzying and demonic; by its finale, Little Desert have you begging for mercy AND more.

That intention of crescendo is present in almost all of Saeva. It’s not always the threatening blare of “Captive” – “Sinner” and “She’s Alive” wander into murder ballad territory, whilst “Soothsayer” contains a psych tint. But when Little Desert hit their grim stride, that’s when they’re at their peak. Take “Resurrection”, which marches from a funeral pace to a gallop, led by the charging Rivers. Her bellow stands commanding, directing the frantic synth arpeggios, and diving boulders of guitar into the a finale even better than Hellraiser, and that movie had hooks ripping off every bit of a guy’s flesh!

Little Desert have always impressed with their boldness, and they haven’t disappointed with Saeva. It’s tense, and tragic, and when they scratch their nails across the whiteboard, Little Desert light up, especially when Rivers’ thundering roar takes centre stage. It’s theatrical, huge and dense, a record you can be suffocated and squashed by, and not mind in the slightest.

You can grab Saeva from the it Records Bandcamp here. Little Desert are doing a few launches up the East Coast real soon: Saturday, 21st at The Tote in Melbourne (w/ Teuton, Mollusc and Half Mongrel), the 26th at Blackwire Records (w/ Ela Stiles and Whitney Houston’s Crypt) and a hell of a party in Brissy at the Crowbar on the 28th (w/ OCCULTS, Last Chaos, Pleasure Symbols and Death Church)

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PREMIERE: Little Desert – Resurrection

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Cinematic is just a word until its applied to the music of Little Desert; their songs are high-stake battles waging between the voice of Esther Rivers and the dramatic clashes of horror-film synth, sneering guitars and other various looming aggravations. Every note that Little Desert howl is confidently pushed to its extreme. Take their new song “Resurrection” – just sitting through its near seven minutes is a heart-stopping experience.

The second track off their forthcoming debut album ‘Saeva’, out November 15th on it Records (Liam Kenny, Miles Brown),  “Resurrection” an exhilarating, feature-length test of the senses, prodding the shit out of every fibre in one’s being for the entire duration. At first, Little Desert tease, but soon, they’re soaring skyward on Roland S Howard-inspired towers of paranoid musicianship, fiercely led by Rivers’ defiant vocal exorcism. Little Desert aren’t just a picturesque throw-back to the best era of gothic post-punk (1980: ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Closer’, ‘In the Flat Field’, say no more); they don’t just tap into what made this genre great, they drive new life into it.

Little Desert’s ‘Saeva’ will be out November 15th on it Records. In Melbourne, they’ll be launching the album at The Tote on the 21st, w/ Teuton + Mollusc + Half Mongrel. In Brisbane, they’ll be at Crowbar on the 28th, joined by the insane lineup of OCCULTS, Last Chaos, Pleasure Symbols and Death Church. Sydney launch is going to be at Blackwire on the 26th.

New: Little Desert – Captive

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Holy shit! Listen to this song! Watch this video! Rejoice in the fact that Little Desert is a band! They are so good! So, so, so good! It’s like Rowland S. Howard and Siouxsie Sioux teamed up for the most frantic and intriguing song of 2015!

There are three very distinct sections to “Captive”, but it’s hard to decide which is more essential. It begins with an overwhelming sense of biting anxiety, albeit buried under softly pattering guitar and soaring vocals. Things then fade into an almost completely different song: dooming rolls of thundering drums, spindly guitar and keys that belong in a slasher flick directed by Ed Wood, before indulging in one of the most arresting displays of theatrics since people lost their shit to Madama Butterfly. It’s a controlled blast of icy, gothic rage, and it’s a ride and a half that should shave your the skin off your cranium.

Do yourself a favour, listen to this song, and love this band. They are worth every second of your precious, precious time.

New Aus Music Pt. I : TV Programmes+ Little Desert + Hailer + Yeo + The Jones Rival

Nothing more Australian than watching Neighbours, chilling next to Uluru in the desert, hailing a cab at 2 in the morning on the way home from the Cross,saying ‘Yo’ to your inner city homies, and getting all riled up as the number 6 jersey of Jones kicks the winning goal, and cements his place as an eternal enemy.  As you might have noticed, those are vaguely related things in relation to the bands about to be reviewed, as suggested by the title. So, after an incredibly complicated introduction, here’s a bunch of bands that are making some sick music in our backyard.

 

 

TV Programmes-Combuster

First up is the vague Neighbours reference. TV programmes are something we all watch, and the Sydney band should be no different. Unless your one of those strange mongoloids that stubbornly refuses to move on and watch a fucking screen. C’mon man, conform to societal expectations! All the cool kids are doing it!

Inside TV Programmes debut EP is a swarming organism of laid back pop, and it’s a goddamn beautiful sight, like witnessing the Grand Canyon for the first time, or seeing Tony Abbott get kicked out of parliament (fingers crossed guys!). The music is mostly a murky shoegaze assortment, but there’s less feedback and reverb than, say, Sunbeam Sound Machine or Day Ravies. Nonetheless, this band capture the same sweeping but frantic romantic gestures of those band. Right now, TV Programmes are constructing some delicate harmonies (a la Bearhug) and need to just continue that vein to earn all the money ever.

 

 

 

Little Desert-Ashes 7″

Now for a turn of the macabre and melodramatic, it’s Little Desert. These guys are very similar to Harmony, doing crazy deep things that make me feel things that my therapist would describe as ‘progressing towards true emotion’. Fuck that! I want to be tucked away in sombre depression, hiding away my feelings from the world and pretending I don’t care! I don’t want some random band from Melbourne that features one of the most sorrowfully beautiful voices I’ve heard to make me empty salt water from my eyes!

But seriously, ‘Ashes’ is fucking heart-wrenching and beautiful and dramatic, and if The Drones had to have a spiritual sibling, Id be totally fine with having Little Desert take up the mantle.

 

Hailer-El Cosmico

Hailer are a band from Sydney that sound either sound like Arcade Fire at their best, or Dead Moon watching a Dukes of Hazard marathon. Seriously, each of the six songs patiently alternates between either the former or latter category. ‘Cold Outside’ could’ve been taken from Ernest Ellis’ new album, and ‘Symbol and Allegory’ wouldn’t sound out of place on Beck’s ‘Sea Change’ record. Meanwhile, ‘Crucify the Commodore’ and ‘Machine Music’ revel in noisy rock territory, sliding between psychedelic hopelessness and full-blown in-ya-face 80’s pop-punk rock (Husker Du, The Replacements). While Hailer might not be breaking any new ground, it’s still good to see a band that can play a bit of rock music well.

 

Yeo-Kobe

The new one from Yeo is a jilted orchestra away from being a Phillip Glass-meets-Little Dragon-meets-Friendly Fires clash. It starts out like a highly strung electro-pop tune, but slowly manoeuvres into a soulful and genuine track that bounces and vibrates as hard as the strings with which the song samples. It’s a surprise that Yeo isn’t a household pop name, but I guess that’s the way Melbourne likes to keep ’em.

 

The Jones Rival-Uncle Frank

I’ve never had an Uncle Frank, but I can imagine that he’d be a good bloke. Plays footy, has a killer handlebar moustache, and can down a half-case of VeeBosses before regaling you with tales of how great INXS were at the local RSL back in the day. The Jones Rival garner that image pretty hard in this single, utilising a gravel-heavy, garage-soaked sound. It’s very akin to some of the loose bohemian tunes the Brian Jonestown Massacre displayed heavily on ‘Take It From the Man’ and ‘Thank God For Mental Illness’. Which is a super good thing. Super dooper good.