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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

7.1

Absolute Boys
Heavy Flow

In the most recent issue of Melbourne literary journal, The Lifted Brow, Absolute Boys frontman Will Farrier discusses his band's music in relation to the work of Argentinean writer/poet/philosopher, Jorge Luis Borges. "Borges is great because he takes things that already exist and then makes them his own".

Farrier's self-diagnosis is spot-on. Heavy Flow is constructed on an obsession with tangling up the forked paths of our perceptions of traditional pop music and guitar-based rock. A large portion of this record exists on the line between organic and synthetic, blurring the attributes of each state beyond recognition. Audible sounds are hard to identify, often transformed and disfigured into unrecognisable formats. Texturally, it's a similar case, with bright-coloured, tropical-tinged jubilation bursting from darker, torturous holes of displeasure, distorting our perceptions of music's association with mood and merging the real, fictional and surreal to create a unique existence. Eventually, our mind and ears are able to adapt, accepting this unfamiliar terrain as an unusual, but not uncomfortable, habitat.

But therein lies the issue with Heavy Flow. Judged solely as a piece of art, it's amazing. It sucks you into it's self-created reality. Deep in. Until you're pleasantly lost amidst the quirky details, the band's obvious lust of unpredictability and the record's obvious desire to transform the conventional. But within all this, there's a notable human absence, an essential element in my own personal consumption of music.

The rarely discussed previous work of Absolute Boys — as south-coast post-punks Ohana — existed at the other end of that spectrum. Frantic and restless and insecure. Occasionally forthright, bordering on obnoxious. In that format Farrier commanded attention, frequently chanting well-above the passing musical chaos. The most blissful moments occurring when the scale of the situation became overwhelming and emotive responses too strong to restrain. This usually ended up with a theatrical derailment of Farrier's own dictating speech, forcing a surrendering retreat as the sharp jolting edges of the composition swallowed the entire scene.

But on Heavy Flow any recognisable human component is washed out. Lyrics are cleansed and morphed into similar shapes to that of the music, bestowing them with less responsibility than their true worth. The approach is beautiful, all knotted in unison, heading towards an unspecified goal. But, as somewhat expected, it creates a definitive sense of removal. Not only between the creators and the music, but also between the creators and their audience.

The majority of the praise I've read in regards to this record has come from musicians themselves. This awe is understandable, given the technicality and complexity of the Absolute Boys' approach. They own their sound and proudly display it's infinite possibilities here. But it's a show. A presentation. Solely consumed on that level, this record is an enthralling adventure, worthy of your attention. But, unfortunately, the application of a more personal perspective drastically devalues the record's uniqueness.

The initial plan was to end this one with a Borges quote. Full circle and all that. Maybe something profound about "the task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us". But, perhaps a line from Melbourne band Ground Components is more apt — "I wouldn't mind hearing something I can sink my teeth into". As a musical representation of Borges' life/reality/dream philosophy, Heavy Flow is an indisputable success, with the band's ability to overlap various ideas and formats often creating a truly inspiring show of artistic ownership. But I can't help but ponder how great this record could have been if Absolute Boys had taken the time to partner these components with a more welcoming embrace, a splash of pain or an outburst of uncomfortable emotion. Or, really just any evidence at all that there's some form of human involvement.

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Absolute Boys

 

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