I have waited for this album.
AHPH’s 2007 debut album “in the static” seems like a lifetime ago, blurred by the memory of Red Hill, an abandoned tyre factory and Hangar nights. That album was largely a solo effort by AHPH brainchild Phillip Laidlaw – a collage of seemingly impenetrable dense soundscapes that was grounded in the deft human touch of it’s author.
However this time around, Laidlaw has brought the band. Guitarist Pete Maclean, drummer Brendan Mawn and bass player Chris Perren (Mr Maps) take the sonic blueprint of “static” and run wild and wide with it. Pre release single “Hunters Compete” saw Laidlaw’s indie rock leanings front and centre, but the album casts its net far wider. “The Rattle” is the perfect opener – it is as if Laidlaw has pulled back the curtain to reveal the full band arrangement now at the controls, the song bathed in thick layers of tremolo and reverb. “Downward Runs” sways with krautrock propulsion before descending into a synth driven coda that would not sound out of place in a Buck Rogers remake. And “Think Music” could be the very definition of sonic disorientation – headphone music indeed!
Wait a second – can we talk about the guitars? Because like any great twin guitar attack – think Verlaine/Lloyd, or Koppes/Willson-Piper, or Malkmus/Stairs – the guitar lines circle and snake each other, seemingly eyeing each other off before launching unprovoked vicious attacks, only to retreat quietly to their corners. This is no more apparent than on “Journey To A”, a song that first came into my consciousness via AHPH’s solo outing at the Beer And Loathing gig at the Troubadour (now Black Bear Lodge) way back in 2007 – well, that’s my recollection anyway. I’m glad this song now exists outside of my somewhat dubious memory….
I greedily inhaled this album upon release and listened to little else for a week afterwards, then put it aside for a couple of weeks. I possibly over did it. When I came back to it, I was startled by the finer details that I’d missed first time around. Yes, it’s that kind of album – it will pull you in, let you go, but it’s grip will be a little tighter every time you come back to it.
The first vital Brisbane release of 2014.
Dive in and swim
by Curt Emerton
“Think” Music video: