Hotel Wrecking City Traders came to my attention through a split 12″ with fellow label mates Waterways and Sons Of Alpha Centauri. Back again with the Japan Tour split release they are appearing alongside fellow Aussie BroFidelity label mates Goat Spider Canyon. Launched in celebration of an 8 city tour of Japan with Takamatsu’s TERATOVA, this split is another showcase of the talents amassed on the label as well as cross promoting the two like minded bands to fans that hopefully will understand what drives the artists and will appreciate the craft that goes into the tracks that make up this release.
On this audio document of a day spent in a rehearsal room in Melbourne, Goat Spider Canyon get the first crack of the whip and contribute three tracks in the form of ‘Brotherhood’, ‘Batch 18’ and the esoterically titled ‘I Draw The Line At The Cabinet’. Formed over ten years ago the band features the core musicians of Josh Beagley on Bass and Deryck Hunt on Drums with guitarist Steve Brick departing at the end of last year.
The tracks are all multi-layered instrumentals despite the band having a long history of collaborations with many different types of musicians and vocalists, but the passion that flows through the compositions is plain to hear.
‘Brotherhood’ is a peaceful, laid back sounding introduction that gently, but ominously creeps into the subconscious with it’s down paced atmospherics. By contrast ‘Batch 18’ is almost an abrasive Mastodon style noise that looks to shake up the listener, offering a fresh challenge in the complex twists and turns that the music takes. The trick to creating interesting and listenable instrumental music is to have musicians who understand each other, share chemistry and vision and ultimately know what they are hoping to achieve when they get together to jam and write. The tracks have a flow and a focus that makes them compelling at times.
The final offering, the epic 30 minute length closer is everything including the kitchen sink, the music moves through shoegaze, noise, avante garde, through fuzzed out chugging (and catchy) rock to pop and even incorporating squealing feedback. If it sounds like Spider Goat Canyon have thrown everything at the wall to see what sticks, you might be right, but somehow they have managed to craft all these different soundscapes into something coherent, from its full on rocking moments, to the mellow, tranquil passages. Over its running length the track peaks and troughs, building and releasing emotionally before building towards a frantic finish; every time it feels like the tension has been wound so tight that the track will collapse on itself as the band make a slight shift and carry the listener off in another direction.
Comparatively Hotel Wrecking City Traders‘ tracks also master this ability to take the listener to dizzy heights of vertigo, before pulling the listener to the safety of another building passage of music.
Tilted ‘I’ and ‘II’ respectively, their contribution begins in an unassuming manner with gentle strumming guitar overlaid by subtle cascading drums which pitter patter, increase in tempo and ferocity and then drift seamlessly in another direction. The patience and skill on display is hypnotic and a joy to listen to.
Track ‘II’ continues the theme and almost floats in on a mandarin sounding guitar and once again the drums are tribal and sound lie an organic loop. This is broken up by random sounds but retains the peaceful feel as the music washes over you in waves before finally stepping up a gear half way through and becomes more urgent sounding without ever losing that laid back feel.
As ever their music seems almost understated and surreal on first listen, but with repeated plays, the dense layers and subtle interplay between the two Wrecker brothers becomes more apparent. If the last split saw them drawing comparisons to Karma To Burn, this release sets out the stall for their own off kilter styling’s.
This whole split release is mood music for getting completely out of your box and listening to, it is like a submersion tank designed to take you on a peaceful journey. I once listened to one of the Mars Volta’s concept albums through headphones, lying on the floor, stoned out of my gourd, in the dark. The tracks by both of these bands remind me of that experience, only calming and relaxing rather than the paranoia and fear inducing ride the former At The Drive-In members conjured up.
If you like indulgent, free flowing instrumental music that seeks to create an atmosphere then the Japan Split is practically perfect for you.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden