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SOOT Pockmarked With… Soot! gets 7/10


Soot
Pockmarked With… Soot!
Eternal Soundcheck

7/10

What is Soot? Maybe Soot could be the resiny scrapings from your indie rock uncle’s old homemade Orchy bottle bong you found in his shed, hiding behind some crumbling Black Flag and Minutemen cassettes. But no – rather they appear to be Brisbane’s newest art-punk-experimental band, and are Riley Jones and Tia Wolf on vocals, drums and bass, with James Harrison on glockenspiel and occasional trumpet.

Pockmarked by… Soot! is Soot’s debut cassette/digital release of 10 primal tracks, with most clocking in around the two minute mark. Opener Downcast A Shadow sets forth a template: nifty basslines plonked and bent to carry the main tune, thwacked drums that shambolically lurch things forwards, with a somewhat distant trumpet riffing off the happy vibe in the background. The vocals are either sung, often in a sing-song style, shrieked or mumbled by Jones and Wolf, who ply a charming bad cop-bad cop banter.

Tracks that stick to a more punk template are Gone Fishing and Long Walk Home sounding as though the mic was partly swallowed on some of the vocals. Original Panic and Construction Workers take on not-so-great moments in daily life, such as sitting on a bus with the down-and-outs or walking past a bunch of leering tradies. Other tracks hint at a bit more polish, such as the verses of Deep Hate where the glockenspiel hits a dissonant stride, and the almost toe-tapping Magneto with its dramatic basslines, manic glock and obtuse lyrics.

Closing song Give Me Back My Man clocks in at nearly four (!) minutes and sounds as though it was assembled with a bit more care, or perhaps it’s just longer. The bass drives the track along to a lilting line on the glock, and it’s unclear whether the lyrics concern love gone wrong and/or a paean to marauding seagulls at the beach. But it doesn’t quite matter as the track is what you might even call a ‘hit’.

Although certainly a lo-fi recording, the bass guitar that carries the melodies comes across clear, crisp and confident, whereas as the drums are more in the motoric mode that are mostly on time with some innovative clacks and clangs from cowbells and other bits of the kit. The vocals occasionally fry the levels, but add to the attitude more than they detract.

Although more than a little coarse, Pockmarked With… Soot! is just about as much fun as you can have with such minimal rough-hewn compositions in 20 minutes. The single-minded drive and reckless innovation (e.g. a glockenspiel and trumpet player in a punk trio, really?) bode well for Soot, and it will be interesting to see where they go next after getting their hands dirty on this debut release.

PAUL DOUGHTY

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