Upon its release in 2015, MY DISCO’s fourth album ‘Severe’ more than lived up to its title, offering up what was easily the Melbourne trio’s most bleak and austere collection to date. When the band’s discography is viewed in retrospect, there’s a sense of MY DISCO constantly moving away from the indie / art-rock moorings of their earliest releases, continuously deconstructing their sound until it’s pared right down to atmospheres and textures more than anything else.
It’s something that this fourth album ‘Environment’ on Regis’ Downwards label sees continuing, with the eight tracks collected here offering up what’s easily the trio’s most stark and uncompromising work yet. Recorded and written over a two week period in Einsturzende Neubaten’s Berlin studio and produced alongside longtime collaborator Cornel Wilczek, ‘Environment’ certainly aptly describes the moods and spaces at play here, capturing the trio’s furthest forays into dark ambient and minimalist deconstructionism yet.
Opening track ‘An Intimate Conflict’ gives good indication of the bleak soundscapes that lie ahead as growling electrical distortion throbs like an overloaded generator against a backdrop of what sounds like scraped and manipulated scrap metal, the occasional harsh burst of industrial noise suddenly cutting through the claustrophobic gloom like a knife.
‘Exercise In Sacrifice’ ventures out into a different place entirely that’s no less ominous as vast ambient pads swell into the foreground amidst layers of reverb, their funereal grandeur just barely cloaking the eerie background whispers and rustles that drift in towards the very end, before the cold orchestral layers drift away like smoke into the darkness.
Elsewhere, ‘Act’ descends into power-noise textures as Liam Andrew’s repeatedly intones the words “do I do enough” like an obsessive mantra against a rising wall of impenetrable signal processing, before ‘Equatorial Rainforests Of Sumatra’ reduces things right down to almost Zen-like minimalism, as sparse gamelan-esque percussion rings out against dark bass tones and shadow-like reverb.
It’s ‘Rival Colour’ though that really captures the sense of mounting dread that lies at the heart of this album as Andrew’s spoken vocals float against a hypnotic backdrop of howling guitar drones, ominous bass murmurs and slow tribal percussion, the sense of tension growing with each ensuing second. Dark and uncompromising, ‘Environment’ sees MY DISCO charting some of their most forbidding sonic territory yet.