From separate parts of the world, Swallow The Rat (New Zealand) and Clone (New York) have come together to release a split. Producing four tracks each, both bands use their own sound to generate a specific vibe for the entire record – a dark, yet dreamy sound that rides an emotional wave between bittersweet enchantment and unfiltered anxiety.
With members hailing from each side of the world, Swallow The Rat allows their native background to be indicative of their sound. As vocalist/bassist Stephen Horsley, drummer Hayden Fritchley, and vocalist/guitarist Sam Vercoe reside in Auckland, New Zealand, they channel a vibe that resembles of the classic Flying Nun Records sound – introspective darkwave-indie that is methodically moody. But it wasn’t until guitarist Brian Purington moved from Austin, Texas to New Zealand and applied his psychedelic, post-rock influence that helped cultivate their cathartic noise. Adding small hints of soft-indie, layers of shimmering shoegaze, and massive amounts of personal energy, the four-piece gives their audience the right amount of delicacy and danger.
Swallow The Rat’s latest single, “Don’t,” is representative of their ability to control their dynamics. As the striking power-chords and untamed drumbeat start the song, the lead guitar lick and bassline provide a healthy balance of force and precision. Capturing a somber rhythm that is pushed by a steady speed, each instrument creates stability and sets the foundation for Horsley’s vocals to shine. His intimate voice connects with the vibe of the instrumentation as his melodies weave in and out of the mix. And although the song is distorted and powerful, his sensitive voice magnifies the intensity with his subdued delivery – creating friction inside the sonic turbulence.
While the first four tracks take us on an international ride, the last four songs take us straight to New York. With their retro, yet uncanny sound, the Brooklyn based five-piece, CLONE embraces us with their early 90s experimental, art-rock compositions. Embodying the classic Sonic Youth ambience, their dark-mood is built around noisy motifs and catchy delay effects. Elements that adorn the track with gentleness, but enhanced with sheer aggression.
Clone also recently released their single, “Speak, Memory -” a track that is manufactured with a dense, dreamy propensity of emotionality. Guitarist/vocalist LG Galleon (Dead Leaf Echo) and lead guitarist Dominic Turi (Squad Car) employ heavy delay effects and noise to unite the experimental atmosphere with a straight-forward pace that is immediately reactive. Their vibrant guitar playing becomes Clone’s trademark as they embellish the high-end spectrum with their punk elegance.
Meanwhile, Drummer Gregg Giuffre´ centers himself with a hefty two/four beat. Harnessing rigorous vitality while pounding life into that string instruments, his unapologetic strength makes the song firm.
However, Guiffre is not alone. Bass player Max Idas (Lulls) is the audio glue. While enhancing meaty mid-range, Idas blends his gritty bass with the low-end of the kick to cement the foundation – bridging the gap between drums and guitar. And as the sound itself makes everything cohesive, sharp playing plucks the energy out of our body and into physical world.
This traditional setup is not complete without keyboardist Lyla Vander (Ice Balloons, Habibi). Her lushes swells marks push the high-end transients to full capacity as the ethereal attributes enhance the magic behind the composition. As the guitar delay already provide an opalescent feel, Vander’s playing meticulously sculpts the sonic dream world.
Both bands showcase how transformative post-punk can be. Depicting the cultural difference while maintaining unfettered originality, they separately expand the genre and make it more excessive for all listeners.
This Swallow The Rat / Clone Split is a collection of what the new world of the post-punk genre will bring – a fresh sound that represents the future, while breaking boundaries and setting new rules.
Together, both bands give the music community an idea of what it means to explore sound while paying tribute to the genres quintessential sound.