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Martyr Privates
Martyr Privates Brendan Telford , September 25th, 2014 11:26

Fire Records have been intrinsically linked with scraping the rusted aluminium barrel of the Australian music underbelly in recent years. The likes of Scott & Charlene's Wedding, Blank Realm, Full Ugly and Lower Plenty grace their roster slots, all exhibiting a ramshackle laissez-faire approach to songwriting and instrumentation; intent to stumble and stagger into the sonic ether with their skewed worldview front and centre. Fire's distribution of Brisbane-based label Bedroom Suck is the culmination of this inquisitive Antipodean mining.

But it's in the release of Brisbane trio Martyr Privates' debut self-titled album that we finally find a sound that truly connects to the sonic brio that Fire has been long aligned to. Rumoured to have formed in a storage container during the Brisbane floods of 2011, Martyr Privates have slowly crafted out a blurred, beautifully inconsistent art-psych braggadocio that shares some of the downer sensibilities of the Kitchens Floor's and Slug Gut's that are their geographic neighbours. However Martyr Privates remains just as focused on the wall-of-noise expansive palettes that are to be found in other global slipstreams.

Kicking off with the relentless growl and drive of 'Someone's Head', it is clear that Martyr Privates aren't as interested in celebrating a slacker underclass or devolving into the murkier depths of rusted punk so much as carving their initials into the grimy foundations of the Roky Ericksons and J Spacemens of the outer realms. There is a deliberate, pounding dirge that underpins many of these songs, evoking the sun-blasted dirt of Texas where the acolytes of the modern psych movement are inexorably drawn, coupled with the guitar fulcrum of the English shoegaze set. 'Bless' stands as a blasted discharge of wanton yearning, and Ashleigh Shipton and Sam Dixon's near-tribal rhythms march relentlessly. Closing track 'Sores' has a burred snarl in its delivery that seems a million miles away from the sordid backwaters of Australian ennui.

Yet the plaintive, near-laconic drawl of Cameron Hawes (I Heart Hiroshima, Slug Guts bit-player) helps to push Martyr Privates above mere pastiche. 'Something To Sell' is almost upbeat in its approach, albeit with an indifferent sneer with the chorus “Don't hang around for my love” that belies the narcissism lurking beneath the quickened pulse. The dirty growl of 'Toe The Plank' plays out like an eviscerated garage rock crawler, harsher than a Black Rebel staple and more slack-jawed than a jumped-up Ty Segall exploder. It's Hawes' Aussie brogue that takes this into that darker territory.

This is even more evident on the languid pieces 'Yawning War' and 'Rope And Tarp'. The former is a narcoleptic warble from the sweat-stained mattress of apathy, finding epiphany in a fugue state, the only sense of abject emotion in the sudden squall of off-kilter aggression, a desperate expulsion of noise. The link here to the downward spiral of brethren Kitchens Floor is obvious, yet there is also a wider palette; a deliberate ear to melody, a tired smile of hope. The latter again mirrors other soul-searchers, this time the wasted elegance of Spiritualized.

Martyr Privates treads the tightrope of familiarity and ingenuity on a number of occasions, yet there is an unique atonal imprint here that keeps the ship upright for the duration. It's a bruised trudge through garish genres and infected inflections, but when the assured punch of 'You Can't Stop Progress' rolls forth, you understand Fire's penchant for mining Down Under for apocryphal gold.

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