Album Review – Harmony by Harmony

harmony by harmony (Australia) album cover

This album is a watershed and a new bench mark in the blues. A seamless meshing of modern and vintage sounds, that is faithful to a number of mistresses — demure, delightful and dangerous. Blending soul, indie, avante and noise-rock it is born from lips which have been wrapped lovingly around both American and Australian musical roots. The result is a delicious hybrid musical form that sings to me of sadness and power.

This music is dangerous and confronting. Not because it takes you too far out there, instilling fears of no safe return, but because it lures, seduces, lays you in front of the fireplace and then pulls the rug out from under you and throws you into the fire unawares. Like Townes Van Zandt’s blue dressed lover in Our Mother the Mountain, you want to touch the emotion here, but when you do it screams in your face and curses you, albeit deliciously. It’s no coincidence that the cover image is from the tear streaked viewpoint of the victim of a sun-frocked waif pointing a shotgun at his/her head.

The production on this album is also worthy of praise. On first listen, one’s protooled and brick wall master attuned ears may be forgiven for thinking this is a demo recording, or a relic from the glory days of 4 track. But no, dear listener, this is the rugged and raw sound of a band nailing their songs live and with minimal over dubs – thank the gods!

Tom Lyngcoln’s (The Nation Blue, Lee Memorial) voice and guitar is passionate and peerless. At times I think Al Green, at his most raw and exposed, has inhabited Tom’s body, but then he’s talking to me, like a guy I just met down at the pub, about his troubles. Tom’s guitar is a similar freak fusion of noise, jazz and blues licks. Influences from his Tasmanian heritage (ala Sea Scouts, Bird Blobs et al) sing their sweet discordance to my ears.

Alex Kastaniotis’ (Remake Remodel) and Jon Chapple’s (McLusky) drums and bass are like the Prozac in this blessedly unstable musical manifestation. They keep us, thankfully, tethered to some approximation of musical normality – but more like the normality of the initiated shaman, than the mediocre normality of bourgeois modernity.

And what would we have if the scorched and regenerative feminine voice, encapsulated in the potent harmonies of Amanda Roff (Ukeladies), Quinn Veldhuis and Maria Kastaniotis, were absent here? I think of one of my favourite Saul Williams rhymes, “I presented my feminine side with flowers, she cut the stems and placed them gently down my throat, and these 2 lips might soon eclipse your brightest hopes.”

If your interest has been pricked by these wild words and you have not heard this album, I recommend you do so now. Or to listen to Harmony’s music go to their bandcamp page.

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