Monday, 16 June 2008

Hotel Wrecking City Traders - Black Yolk

Hotel Wrecking City Traders
Black Yolk
Bro Fidelity

Two piece bands seem to be making up a large percentage of my listening time at the moment. Bands like (in no particular order) Blood Red Shoes, MGMT, Fuck Buttons, Old Mayor, Cobalt, Sharing Sheaths, -A+M, Crystal Castles, Pocahaunted, The Death Set, Noze, Bone Awl, This Mono Galaxy, Ting Tings, Goliath Bird Eater, Worriedaboutsatan… yeah, there’s a lot of two pieces about at the moment. The appeal for the musician is an easy one to understand and the appeal for the listener is, I suspect, the audible result of that same attraction: spontaneity and intimacy. To make this relationship somewhat more prescient, the Hotel Wrecking City Traders (an awesome name once you get your head around it) are brothers.

The Melbourne based duo of Toby (guitars) and Ben (drums) Matthews follow up last year’s self titled EP with their debut full length album Black Yolk. It is an album that occupies some kind of middle ground between rock, post-rock and metal, with six completely instrumental tracks building upon their previous recordings momentously, demonstrating an evolved interplay between both musical styles and brothers that has produced an album of not only sheer volume and seismic riffs, but of shapes, textures, space, and density.

The six tracks are split into three short, two long and finish with a final short burst. It sounds great. Two longer songs sit next to each other and really give the pair room to work with the textural elements of their sound, allowing themselves the time to develop and expand on the echoic ambience that haunts the shorter songs. The four short songs are your instant fixes, although they still pack in a lot of twists and turns. The opener, ‘Cup Weekend Murders’ is both the shortest and simple; a direct, straight-at-the-throat statement of intent. Of the kind that should be opening albums. ‘The Lakeshore Stranglers’ is five minutes of joyously intimidating riffs; of surging rhythm patterns set up on top of a sawing backdrop of distortion, with drums that switch between psychedelic dexterity and cantering locked-groove. Heavy and agile – and if HWCT’s sound could be distilled into a soundbite, that might be it. The longest track at 12 minutes, ‘Eavesdropper’ picks it’s way up slowly, menacingly, atmospherically, then bursts into a galloping, perfectly weighted riff section that disintegrates under it’s own momentum before grinding down into a stretched out string bending finish. The album finish comes in ‘Pagoda’, another sublimely loose-limbed rocker of ecstatic intensity.

So many shadowy images of it’s influences and peers appear that the album never sounds as if it was ever dependant on them. Across the album the ghosts of Torche, Karma To Burn, Mogwai, Capricorns, Goliath Bird Eater, Circle, and of course, Zeppelin and Sabbath, rise from the tracks like hypnotic, post-metal leviathans with these two grand mages in the centre conducting and realigning.

What really sets this album apart from so many of the rock-out acts around is the subtlety with which each song section slides onto the next, the natural flow of the songs that delivers moment after moment without you quite realising it is upon you until you are in the middle of it, yet feels wholly spontaneous and, yes intimate. All consuming, then.


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