There’s definitely something in the water over in Australia. Not only did the country produce two of 2011’s best albums with UV Race’s Homo cassette and Kitchen’s Floor’s Look Forward To Nothing, but it also saw the rise of supergroup Total Control. Featuring members of AIDS, Straightjacket Nation, UV Race, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, the Melbourne five-piece has conjured a completely immersive sound that combines drum machine-fueled electronica and synth-punk with blasts of fractured noise. Coming after the 7’’ releases Pyre Island and Paranoid Video, this 11-track debut LP at times feels like a long-lost Joy Division record by way of early 80’s synthpop band Solid Space, but there’s something thrilling about the band’s ability to mesh analog synthesizers with the unruly spirit of punk. A song like “Love Performance”, with its cyclical keyboard twinkles and frontman Dan Stewart droning “these are not the last days”, comes on like a moody storm of apocalyptic force, and yet the song is entirely joyous, even danceable. On opener “See More Glass”, they experiment with pulsing drum machines and distorted vocals to create a cacophonous wall of noise, and there’s even beguiling instrumental diversions like “Sunday Baker” for listeners to dive into. In this way, the band continues throwing out interesting musical layers that keep the album from becoming one-note and predictable. The whole DIY garage punk retro something-rather tag is at this point a cliché, and adding 70’s Krautrock keyboards into the mix isn’t exactly revelatory, but Total Control are so good at this type of sound that Henge Beat ultimately takes on the feeling of something fresh and exciting.
“Love Performance” by Total Control
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