These Ship Wrecks are a band from Perth, Australia, one of the remotest cities in the world, and despite the fact that our world is becoming smaller and smaller in the digital age, one can’t help but wonder how geographical isolation may affect art and other modes of collective human expression. I have no idea if the unique approach These Ship Wrecks have is because of where they come from, but there are times when they sound like a band operating outside this decadent world of convention, while using their music to tell us a story that is very personal.
Raw Powerless is a one-mike recording from 2009 and is certainly raw, but by no means powerless. Having listened to the ’70s psychedelia mysticism of their studio album Salt, Sulphur, Mercury one can find the same drunk beats and broken melodies that characterized it (somewhere between The Doors and Bark Psychosis), but here the band let themselves go, losing themselves completely in the dionysian power of their music.
At times, like shamans dancing on fire, they play with the power and recklessness of tribal musicians for whom music was a language that would allow them to communicate with a supreme being or enter a world beyond the one where mortals exist. At others, with Morricone-like guitars they celebrate their uniqueness in an old-fashioned way, by not following forms and letting their post-jazz (if I may use such a term) develop freely. But most of the time they resemble a band of traveling gypsies, much like the legendary Godspeed You! Black Emperor, making stops at random towns and cities, playing like an unstoppable rock’n’roll avalanche, bringing havoc for an hour or two, and then on to their next destination.
Because of this their music is truly adventurous, often resembling Hanged Up!, a band with only two members (a drummer and a bassist), as the drums often take the lead, with the other instruments accompanying the marching beat. This is a band that sings about the end of the world, about a civilization that has lost its soul while flipping channels on TV, and other such stories that we are all aware of, but choose to ignore as we are too busy surviving. While the music of These Ship Wrecks is raw and unpolished, it is made for the same reasons music was first made in human societies, to feed the spirit, to lift us to a higher level of consciousness and to celebrate life. For all these reasons, this is an album (and a band) worth hearing. (John Kontos)