Emerging as a solo artist after many years performing in collaborative ensembles Lucy Phelan steps out in her new 12″ EP Drain Down for the second release by Michael Kucyk’s fresh Noise In My Head label. Anybody vaguely familiar with the Australian independent and electronic scenes will be familiar with Phelan’s work with Naked On The Vague, Knitted Abyss and her long standing duo with Matthew P Hopkins as Half High.
For her solo project Phelan presents elements present in her electronic work with Hopkins, but takes us in a more direct electronic dance direction. The first track Smash opens with a driving synth bass clearly defining the territory we are entering. Her ghost like vocals hang behind the mix in an ethereal delayed vortex insinuating an air of despair that lays outside the club in which the track plays. Dystopian realness hides behind the the rhythmic pulse of the song, allowing us to embrace the moment of euphoria, but hinting at the unrest outside. This is smart dance music miles away from the cliched world of IDM.
Shallow Shadow stays in this world, synth pads swirl over the bass and pummeling beats creating an almost Aphex Twin-like sense of paranoia. While the 12″ dwells within the realms of dance music, there is a sense of freedom and abandon within the pulsing rhythm. Phasing syn drums recall hints of the Berlin hard techno/industrial sound of the 1980s but still remain grounded in the present, or possibly the not too distant future. This is no Mad Max style post-apocalypse but one in which dissent may provoke change.
Side B opens with Drain which again makes us consider the failing world outside the club as we dance. Phelan’s vocals float around in an effected haze instilling the track with an abstracted urgency. It must be mentioned that Lucy Cliche sits within an emerging and very strong female Australian underground dance scene, and it is very refreshing to hear forward thinking electronic music being produced by a group of talented women. Each track on the EP sits around the six minute mark, allowing enough time to sink into the sonic landscape but moving quickly enough to show us around the town.
The final track is Passing Time in which Phelan’s disembodied voice informs us that she sees through time. This sentiment is appropriate as the whole record evolves as music for tomorrow, not in any cliched retro-futurist sense, but in a holistic way, encompassing each element that is required to transport the listener to the desired time and place. Drain Down’s downfall may be that is only a four song EP. I don’t want to leave this world so soon, and a full length release is hopefully not too far away. Luckily humans have the function of choice and it is all too easy to return the stylus to the beginning of the record to begin the journey again.