If you’ve spent any time haunting the halls of RSTB you’d probably notice that I have a soft spot for Australian indie. While most of their countrymates have been mining the offbeat jangles of The Clean or the scratched punk proddings of Toy Love, Possible Humans have taken a scrape through some American alternative highlights – Dinosaur Jr., Volcano Suns, R.E.M. – and come out with a sound that’s payed homage to the era without becoming a complete love letter. Their debut was issued in a scant run of 200 on the great Hobbies Galore and now gets its own US / worldwide issue on Trouble in Mind. Steve Hewitt from the band sent over a pick for the Gems series and it shines some light on an Aussie nugget from his youth.
“Thanks, we’ll see you next time… oh and stick around for bZARK…they fucking rock”
“One of first proper shows I ever attended,” recalls Steve, “was an all-ages thing on a Sunday afternoon in late 1997 at the Corner Hotel. The band my friends and I had come to see departed the stage, leaving us with a few words that rather understated what was to come. bZARK took no prisoners. I recall laughing involuntarily. before retreating to a safe distance to witness a diabolical display of cathartic mania unfold. It seemed mad, a little bit stressful… and transcendent. Three sorcerers augmenting the traditional hard rock trio with cello (!) to hectic effect — at times as heavy as a mammoth’s testicle, mean as an ‘up your arse with a piece of broken glass’ middle finger, and yet at other times contemplative, tender and monk-like. What’s actually understated is the humour that is also present in this full punnet of nuts. As fierce as it can be, you get the sense that this carnal music is informed by a humbling reverence for the real”, he notes.
“A couple of months later, I stumbled across their I Don’t Know How It Is EP and bought it without hesitation. What came out of the speakers was confounding. Was this the same band? A rock/rap song bundled with 4 off the wall acoustic tracks, guest vocals, huh? The only clue that seemed to link them to what I had experienced was the acoustic cover of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” I heard the second single from ‘The Welcome Storm’ on the radio, a warped and manic 70s-ish blast of hard rocking pop music entitled ‘Be My Parasite.’ If you were trying to be a cute little music dude wiseguy you might say it sounds like Alvin and The Chipmunks pretending to be Motorhead. It’s probs more like Bowie, but it’s actually nothing like anything other than what it is. The best quality.”
“So, my nervous system once again responded to this magical shit and the rest of me got sucked along in the slipstream to the record store on release day. The Welcome Storm is bZARK’s second LP. It progresses their sound. The playing is impeccable, as is the production. Unselfconscious, wild and refined, it sounds clear as a bell at ear damaging volume, and the content to me is about as holistic as rock music can get — intelligently expressed raw power and elegance. Scary and reassuring, if you value authenticity. Back to back opposite numbers ‘Courtship On Introvert Moon’ and the annihilating ‘Fight/Peace’ form the gaping centerfold of this porno for the soul. Indescribable, and nothing to be ashamed of. Not many folks seem to know about this record, admits Hewitt, “let alone the rest of the band’s lean, eclectic, and in my humble opinion, flawless discography it is worth making space to allow the legacy of this unique group to enchant you.”
I’ll be the first admit this one was not in my wheelhouse but after Steve’s recommendation it’s a great pick to check out. The record is widely available digitally, but as you might guess its not that hard to track down a physical as well. While you’re looking, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Possible Humans new LP as well, now that it too is more widely available. It found its way into my best of 2019 (so far) for many good reasons.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.