Album Review: Nite Fields – Depersonalisation

Nite Fields have always been so great. Just so, so great, always striking the perfect balance between experimental and coldly familiar, a chilly warmth surrounding their material, as few of it as there initially was. However, after two 7″s, Nite Fields made the big jump to a full LP. In the world of sending out a press release and working out a digital marketing plan for acts with only a scratchy 4 track to their name, Nite Fields putting out a fully-fledged record so quickly seems odd.

The jump straight into LP territory isn’t the only thing skewed about this band: despite being birthed from Brisbane, a place that regularly calls 30 degree days “a tad chilly”, Nite Fields have an icyness that permeates their every breath. It’s a different kind of goth music, not one that would necessarily quote Bauhaus or Nick Cave as inspirations. It’s hard to pinpoint, shying away in a corner, revolving between uncertainty and seduction. It’s very liquid and dense, with the instrumentation coming in thick and sticky.

The source behind this hijacking of the musical thermostat is Danny Venzin. He purrs and beckons, his voice a velvet monotone, droning between the angular bass and guitars, slipping away beneath the mechanic synth lines. He brings Nite Fields to a central location from where the music can spring back and forth. The whole Nite Fields gang is a bit of a dream team, actually. Liza Harvey also drums with Point Being, Chris Campion kills it on a daily basis with Multiple Man, and Michael Whitney used to play in CLEARING. Put that all together, and there’s a reasoning of how a band can come up with such a refined sound.

The dark, funeral parlour pop glimmers brightly throughout ‘Depersonalisation’. Regret, longing,and  uncertainty are all central themes to the record, and all come through in wave after wave of  droning haze. There’s a firmly alien aesthetic in place, twinkling and stretching particularly strongly on songs like “You I Never Knew” and “Prescription”. When Venzin and co. haunt at peak levels of despair, they inject a sense of dread in even the most optimistic of listeners. Even when no one sings, such as “Pay For Strangers”, or the majority of “Winter’s Gone”, a creeping doom frosts over their music.

From the death clang of “Come Down”, to the intimate duets of “Like A Drone”, Nite Fields do a fine job of making sad music. Things can occasionally simmer and linger too long, but with time, the work of Nite Fields’ debut sinks further and further into your skin. The icy tendrils get under your fingernails, unapologetic; a gothic shimmer that fits well within the current canon of unnerving post-punk this country is so capable of producing.

Nite Fields launch ‘Depersonalisation’ on Saturday 16th May at Blackwire Records w/ Seating Plan, Enderie Nuatal and Canberra’s Honey. Get their record from their Bandcamp here.

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Gig Review: Step-Panther & Bearhug

Friday, 21st November @ Goodgod Small Club

For two of my favourite local bands, 2014 has been a career-affirming year. Both Step-Panther and Bearhug have released the best material of their lives, solid,  cohesive sophomore records that accentuate their past tendencies, and showcase their abilities to write fucking great songs. Step-Panther’s ‘Strange But Nice’ has to be one of the albums of the year, with it’s raw, slicing honesty, and Bearhug are most definitely in the Top Tier, with a record that never puts a foot wrong, only engaging in the best walls of guitar haze. Tonight, the two bands shared a stage, and threw down the gauntlet to show that their more than just a bunch of pretty faces.

Point Being, a band with about five gigs under their belt, opened with a set of crushing rock. What’s cooler than being cool? Not ice-cold, but rather this fucking band. Their set was a looming cache of forthright guitars set to their most primitive. On record, Point Being can come across as almost friendly, despite their dry delivery. On stage, even after their frontman had only landed down after running the fucking New York Marathon a mere few hours before, the engaged with the sort of white-knuckle, bared teeth rabid look you’d get from one of the re-born creatures of Pet Semetary. They’re a weird breed of a band that everyone knows but can’t remember, an amalgamation of all the best punk acts of the 1980’s – Mission of Burma injected with a bit more underdog aroma, the kind that’s bred out of the suburbs of Sydney.

Bearhug had their original lineup on stage, and there was a certain extra to the way they played on the night. Their music just seemed to thrive that much harder, and although it took a few songs for their warm fuzz to waft around the room, by the time “Habit Wave” crash landed, the room was effectively enraptured. There was a new energy in the way Bearhug play, whether it be the blur their hands make when thrashing over “Animal”, or the loping romantic elope of “Over the Hill”. Or maybe it was just the fact one of their guitarists, Jesse Bayley’s imitation of Joey Belladona of Anthrax-impression, heaving black hair whipping across the stage like Willow Smith was in the building. Whatever it was, their music, mostly compromised from the gorgeous ‘So Gone’ made for a sincerely gripping show, thrilling even. The guitar blanket that descended made for a calming, zen-like state, like the Dalai Llama formed a band with J Mascis. Some might be cynical as to whether Bearhug would be able to pull off their cocooning sound in a live format, but trapped in the small room of Goodgod with the five gents made for a rewarding show.

Finally, Step-Panther blasted their way onstage with “User Friendly”, “It Came From the Heart” and “Nowhere”. The trio of Zach, Steve and Dan made for one of the loudest sets seen in Goodgod since METZ. They were a flurry of lambasting guitars, shooting chords and cymbal crashes into your ears with the velocity of the Millennium Falcon at light speed. Steve’s guitar is blaring at 11, but the resulting wash of sound is less Spinal Tap and more medieval wasteland out of Evil Dead 3 – cartoonish, bloody and fucking good. One only has to headbang along to “Nowhere”s two solos to see that the band have made a rock equivalent to Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s “Get Up Morning”.

Step-Panther’s set borders on epic, but is injected with too much normal personality to be some bullshit swords ‘n’ sandals saga that Dragonforce might pull together. Almost entirely built upon their fantastic new album, besides a brief, pummelling edition of “Fight Like a Knight”, the band proves that not only have they matured in their song-writing and musical ability, but they’ve also increased their performance. Their drummer, Daniel Radburn, is particularly impressive, showcasing what has to be one of the most batshit crazy drumming skillz seen since Pantera – the man’s arms are like Doctor Octopus’ appendages, a destructive force in eight different directions.

It’s a night to fucking remember. All three bands are excellent, but what’s more, they’re even better live. In considering that these are two of the best local releases of the year, saying that going to see any of these bands is essential to your life is a bit of understatement.

New: Point Being – Degustation

Point Being have been cracking around Sydney for a little while now, but they’ve only just revealed their debut single “Degustation”, which sounds like a guy with a lisp trying to pronounce ‘Disgusting’. But whatever, this band is basically a supergroup, what with featuring members of such establishments as Red Eye Records and Mess + Noise. It’s like Them Crooked Vultures, but instead of RAWK GAWDS, the members are from the best musical establishments of Australia.

But, I’m getting carried away. Their debut single is something that you need to get in your system. Let it swim around your digestive track with that half-molten KFC wrap and those Lego pieces you ate when you were three that still have yet to come out. Rejoice in “Degustation”, as it slots nicely into that punk mix you’ve been putting together featuring Mission of Burma,  Q And Not U and Cap’n Jazz. And for the love of Christ, can someone chuck on a bill with Pinch Hitter, Point Being and Beast & Flood at Black Wire? #Dreamteam.

Point Being play a show on Friday night, at the Lansdowne Hotel, supporting Bare Grillz, Circular Keys and Day fuck’n Ravies. It’s free as fuck.  ‘Yeah, I’ll be there’, you just thought to yourself.