Since Chapter Music’s timely reissuing of their 1980 self-titled live recording (the band’s only official release) back in 2004, the re-emergence of Melbourne post-punk / noise band Primitive Calculators as a fully functioning entity three and half decades on from their original lifespan, has continued apace. The reformation of the band’s original lineup in 2009 to play the Nick Cave curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals saw the initial spark continuing to blaze, with the Calculators going on to play subsequent shows with the likes of Lightning Bolt and the appearance of new songs during live sets stoking the anticipation levels surrounding the possibility that they might record a new album. A couple of years on and the release of ‘The World Is Fucked’ sees the rumours becoming reality, whilst also offering up the Calculators’ first true ‘studio’ album to date. As the jarring, confrontational title hints, the band’s anger towards a commodified and controlled society hasn’t dulled at all during the ensuing thirty years, with lyricist / singer Stuart Grant arguably having more cultural targets to train his darkly satirical and often bellowed lyrics upon than before.
That said, there’s a creeping sense that the surrounding social landscape has changed far more than the Calculators have, with a lot of the humanist themes being fairly essential. If the world has grown a lot bleaker in the meantime, the nine tracks collected here showcase a slighter harder and fuller sound than was present on the band’s 1970s / 80s recordings, with the fusion of repetitive noise burst electronics, jagged guitar and unrelenting drum machine rhythms reaching more punishing levels. While the screamed vocal repetition and screeching noise bursts on tracks like ‘No’ might sound like loose free-flowing chaos at points though, closer inspection reveals an incredible tight and precise band unit at work. Indeed, there’s an almost Ramones-like tightness and efficiency to tracks like ‘Why’ with Grant’s shouted vocals forming a cathartic mantra over a monotonously simplistic synth-bass line reminiscent of Suicide and a barrage of squealing noise loops. After the initial sharp shock, there’s even a liberating, humanist feel to tracks like ‘Cunt’s (sample lyric â€œYou’re born in a hole and you live in a hole / When you die they stick the corpse in a holeâ€), simply because there isn’t the sense that the Calculators are holding their audience at arm’s length like so many other noise / industrial artists do. Yes, the world may increasingly be fucked, but at a Primitive Calculators live show you can get the feeling that you can just enjoy the horror and the ridiculousness and yell along with Stuart. This album captures that feeling pretty well.