The ‘influences’ game is a tricky one when it comes to music writing. Too often a critic depends on the lazy shorthand of ‘RIYL’ type writing, the ‘equal parts this, equal parts that’ school of music journalism where instead of making the effort to say something new and interesting about how an album sounds to the listener, they break it down into easily digestible bites for the laziest of reader: if you like _____, you’ll LOVE this!
Still, sometimes, influences are just too obvious to ignore. Listening to Loveless the other night in a spree of My Bloody Valentine nostalgia in light of their new remastered reissues, I was explaining to my wife and bandmate that this was a timeless album not just for how it sounded, unlike anything else that came before or, despite many commendable efforts, since, but also that you can hear strands of its influence in so many genres and generations of music these two decades later. I declared that roughly seventy percent of the music I love would not be around today, or would at least be drastically different, without Loveless.
Thusly, from the Future Past label of Perth comes a too-brief tape split between Leafy Suburbs and Sacred Flower Union. These bands both exemplify that influence strongly, and I hope that that isn’t taken as shorthand or as minimizing the great rewards this music bestows. Both long pieces (16:58 each, and each made up of various shorter movements) are colorful, slowly unfolding bursts of surprising sounds and textures, and like Loveless, I can imagine this as an collection where you pick out new wonders and delights with each recurring listen. This is true headphone candy for the sound junkie, like a less pretentious and more playful Animal Collective or a less abrasive Health, with touches of jarring noise bouncing about the mix beneath the unfolding spectrum of sounds. The Leafy Suburbs selections make up the darker of the two sides, mysterious and churning, while the Sacred Flower Union collage of two extended pieces is buoyant and nearly triumphant. These bands are both very aptly named if this is representative of their musical output. Flowers, Leaves, Pools, Glowbugs, Eden, Summer, Animals, Power…these title elements are all very apt descriptors for the music here.
I’ve never been to western Australia, and my exposure to the region would surely be called a composite of western hemisphere stereotypes and cliches. But the melted VHS drones and colorwheel explosions here put me in mind of such a foreboding landscape, of limitless desert and windblown trees and vaguely ferocious wildlife prowling about the twilight. It always touches me when, accidentally or intentionally, a music releases hints at the atmosphere of where it was produced and incorporates elements of such personal topography. Too often, the latest buzzy Williamsburg band sounds like they could come literally from anywhere, not surprising in a city that weaves such a tapestry of other places’ cultural backgrounds and traditions. But, for me at least, this release is a highly pleasurable soundtrack to the mythical western Australia of my imagination. (Zachary Corsa)