Thursday, December 4, 2014

REVIEW: Total Control - Typical System

I will confess to being a bit tardy on covering Typical System, the second album from Melbourne's Total Control.   I had heard that there would be a delay in the US release this summer, so I put it aside and focused on other things.  Because it is a smashing record I returned to it from time to time, but it wasn't until recently that I realized that my post still was in draft.  Totally my fault, but what are you going to do -- sue me?

Typical System covers a broad swath of post-punk, synth pop and chillwave, mostly, but not completely, with a gloomy, atmospheric veneer.  But in addition to the trappings of gloom, these songs are infused with a sense of power and energy.  Perhaps at first listen it seems like a slice of the '80s, but upon closer inspection it just takes the bones of post punk and then constructs a fresh temple of dark, swirling atmosphere for the modern man or woman.  There is plenty of guitar and synths, but appropriately the bass and drums are high in the mix, pile-driving the songs into your brain.  And the gloom doesn't mean that it is devoid of humanity.  From the lyrics, playful synth frills, to bouncing bass lines and other sonic touches, their is warmth, heat, and perhaps some sardonic humor.  Even the most industrial of tracks, "Hunter", has a palpable soul, and the ten tracks speak of an artful balance.  You would be hard pressed to find another album that is this primal, yet this sophisticated.

You will see this album high on a number of year end lists, and absent from most.  It is that kind of album.  It will have a spot on mine.

My understanding is that the core members of Total Control are Dan Stewart (vocals) and Mike Young (synths/guitar) and they have recruited Zephyr Pavey (bass), Al Montfort (guitar), David West (guitar) and James Vinciguerra (drums) for Typical System.  The album is out now via Inertia in Australia and New Zealand, and Iron Lung Records in the remainder of the world.

Iron Lung Records
Bandcamp for Typical System
Iron Lung Records on Blogspot

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