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New War
Trouble In The Air Julian Marszalek , March 18th, 2020 08:38

Melbourne's New War flourish in this live recording at their home city's town hall, finds Julian Marszalek

As anyone who’s encountered New War in a live setting will attest, it’s precisely within this environment that the Melbourne-based quartet truly flourish. Indeed, such was the band’s lyrical rage, venue-shaking power and sheer volume in Camden’s currently decommissioned Koko some years back, that the mere mention of their name causes a Pavlovian response to reach for the ear plugs, hard hats and hi-visibility jackets.

With this in mind, it’s entirely apposite that their return should be with the release of entirely new material recorded live. Commissioned by the City of Melbourne to write a song cycle specifically written for vocals, bass, electronics and the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ, Trouble In The Air finds the band moving forward and still retaining their essential personality.

New War are smart enough to know that there’s more to polemical songwriting than aural violence. Written under the cosh of a deadline, they’ve dialed back their previous wordiness to use repetition to hammer their points home while using colours to link geo-political interests. So it is that New War take in the South Central Coast of Vietnam (‘Purple Heart’), Central Florida (‘Redbeard USA’) and the Chihuahauan Desert (‘Cocaine Blue’) among other locations.

The Grand Organ takes centre stage both literally and figuratively throughout. At its best – see ‘I Am Position Yellow’ – the instrument propels the material with a sense of jerky claustrophobia, as elsewhere – notably on ‘Emerald Eyes’ – its presence gives an almost devotional flavour to the project. Despite occasional lapses where the compositional time constraints make themselves evident, New War have, overall, risen to the challenge. The results contained herein should see them in good stead for their next project, especially when harnessed under their own self-determined pace and objectives.

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