Ben Green

Primitive Motion – Home Of The Future (Kindling)

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Primitive Motion - Home Of The Future (Kindling)

By Ben Green

In his lovingly-made book, Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, Thurston Moore relates an anecdote in which prima ballerina Swan, Michael Gira, demands that Lydia Lunch stop talking and “LISTEN” to the new album he’s subjecting her and some other friends to in his lounge room. She responds, “I can’t help but not to!” That’s the punchline of Thurston’s yarn, and it’s clear from his awe that it was not meant as a compliment.

One of the ways in which the Hangar night at Brisbane’s Waiting Room on 9 March was like a Red Hill Hangar of old was that, as much as anything else, it felt like a bunch of people who know each other from going to such gigs – hell, a scene – catching up in a comfortable environment. With no disrespect to the bands, this meant there was as much going on in the car-park out the back as there was in the fairy-lit enclave of amplifiers inside. This all seemed to change, however, when Primitive Motion cranked up their very analogue-sounding rhythm boxes and melody machines. Their stillness sucked the chatter out of the air and, like in an accidental silence at a dinner party, your own voice was suddenly painfully loud. The plastic-sounding rhythms and tunes whirred pleasantly beneath soft-yet-clear vocals – yes, like Young Marble Giants, smothered in delay for even more of a “lying in an iron lung filled with lukewarm water and Epsom salts” (© Kurt Cobain) vibe – and the occasional saxophone or flute shone like polished metal in candlelight. You couldn’t help but listen.

Home Of The Future has the opposite effect. I keep forgetting I’m listening to it, until a sudden silence reminds me that there was a song just playing. I see this as a good thing, but I probably meditate more than Lydia Lunch did in the 80s. I’m also taking a lot of cold and flu tablets at the moment.

‘Once A Day High’ is just lovely. Is it about getting high once a day? It doesn’t sound at all like a manic episode to me  It could be about a regular daily highlight, like when you get to go and take the receipts to Sally in accounts at 3pm and you know you’re going to talk about the latest episode of your mutual favourite TV show (I have seen offices in movies, I know how it works). The good thing is, you get to make it up for yourself, the song’s not pushy at all, and it goes for a lot longer in your head than it does on the actual recording. In fact it’s great if you live near a road or train tracks, an occasional whooosh fits in nicely with the music.

There’s a song called ‘I Record The Melting Years’ – yes, good, it’s great that someone is doing that, and that’s what these recordings sound like. Delayed voices decay into distortion and everything’s fuzzy around the edges. It’s not all pastels and sweetness. ‘Coiled Spring’ and ‘(Re)coiled Spring’ are an especially sinister pair of bookends, coming on like insomnia.

‘Interior Sea’ is the best performance of isolation by two people, with its dual vocal, “Nothing is close to me/nothing is close to me/interior sea/interior sea”. Five minutes later different words and melodies rise, glimmering, to the surface; suddenly I snap back into focus and the isolation has become splendid. It reminds me of someone in a book I once read, describing a heroin high as like floating on a sea of jewels, which scares the hell out of me because it sounds incredible. Then the record ends.

Home of The Future is available as a free download from Primitive Motion’s bandcamp account – http://kindling.bandcamp.com/album/home-of-the-future

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