Australasia – Vertebra. Immortal Frost Productions, 2013.
Last year, I reviewed Australasia’s debut album, Sin4tr4, saying that this was not your typical post-rock. On their latest release, Vertebra, the band continues to defy post-rock purists by throwing elements of shoegaze, black metal, and a little bit of 90′s new age into the mix. While this might sound like a strange mix, for the most part it works, seamlessly switching gears between ethereal and menacing.
Now, I don’t have a lot new to say about these guys that I didn’t say in my previous review. This is, in part, because a few of the tracks come right from the Sin4tr4 EP. I assume this is, in part, because the band changed labels and had to bring “Apnea” and “Antenna” with them, and partially because the EP was more of a preview of what the band was gearing up for, rather than an album in its own right. Regardless, Australasia still manage to hit all of the post-rock tropes without sounding like they’re merely duplicating Caspian or Red Sparowes. They might blur genre lines, but they also clearly step back over the line to establish that post-rock is their chosen idiom, and to use a phrase I’ve coined, they are doing the post-rock thing well.
The highlight tracks are the quiet-LOUD-quiet “Aorta,” which breaks convention with vocals in the last minute or so of the song, the driving “Volume,” and the dreamy title track. Taken together, thought, this album has a real sense of motion, and manages to pull its disparate parts together to create a cohesive whole that almost seems to have a sort of instrumental narrative structure.