So it turns out Australia’s favourite broken glass on face performer has gone modular. He’s sold all of his guitar effects pedals and embraced Eurocrack. These are some of his early experiments and they mark a real departure from his pedal work.
The abrasion is gone but the humour remains. It sounds like Abela with all the sharp pointy edges removed, now suddenly safe for children. I guess that’s what happens when you tumble into middle age. Everything feels rubbery and bouncy, even a little purposefully annoying like a dad joke taken too far, repeating the punch line again and again for diminishing returns – which is unfortunately my sense of humour.
The glass on face has become something of a synth controller – which is pretty interesting because there is no way a synth would, could or would even think to try to act like this. And the mouth is a pretty direct conduit to the electrics. Abela doesn’t really go for rhythm, harmony or melody. It feels like he’s on a constant search for texture and tone. And it’s fun to explore with him. Thanks to the lack of repetition it never feels like a song – rather it’s a journey – though on what and to where is open to conjecture. As I listened I was reminded of Mike Patton’s Adult Theme’s for voice, a series of improvised solo vocal recordings he made in hotel rooms around the world. Like Patton Abela is really reaching out from the ledge without too much to hold onto. It’s weird as hell, no one has done it before and no one knows where its going to go – or even what he’s doing.
At times it sounds like the guys doing foley on the latest Star Wars had way too much red cordial, at others like the machines in a shoe factory have risen up, overthrown their human masters and are now trying to teach each other to dance.
Most of the pieces are long, one Renault clocks in at 46 minutes (yes all the tracks are named after the car you buy after you ditch your wife and quit your job). This means there are lots of mini movements within the pieces. It also means it gives you a sense of how Abela has composed in real time. There are no overdubs here – this is direct to hard drive. Mid-Life-Crisis gives you a sense of where this setup could go . The tones and oscillations are already more complex than his previous material, particularly in terms of the range of sounds he can harness live within the one piece. It’s an exciting time. Who knows where this could end up.