Review Summary: Chino Moreno has a love-child with Trent Reznor in the back of Rolf Harris' camper van.
There's something undeniably special about local music. It's not always just the exuberant enthusiasm, the fun-loving demeanor, or the charmingly innocent mistakes and missteps associated with many a local band either. The ability to stand in a crowd, watching guys you know from schooling, work, or the local scene tear it up night after night and proclaim to those around you, face aglow with an ear-to-ear-grin "I know those guys" is an experience like no other. Watching the progress of friends you know and love, kids from the local neighbourhood, or, at a wider level, bands from your home city or country as they produce great albums, gain momentum, and tour instills a sense of pride and fellowship impossible to come by with bands known only on an impersonal level. When they triumph, you triumph; when they fall, you fall, and in both cases, you share their elation and disappointment as if you were a member of the band itself. On a personal level, watching fellow Australian musicians, such as The Jezabels or Bliss N Eso (both native to my hometown Sydney), and even the numerous local acts which ex-schoolmates and acquaintances perform in gives me a sense of fulfilment and familiarity I just don't get from the musicians who are, essentially, strangers. Nothing quite compares to being able to attach a face and personality to the music you're listening to, and smaller local bands, by their very nature, allow this interaction to happen on a much deeper level than any other kind of project. No geographical or language barriers. No behind-the-scenes maneuvering by dodgy record labels or managers. Just a few guys making good, honest music, out to have a good time.
With the release of the project's debut EP, Uno , the Brisbane-based Duality and the Republic has come to be one such example of this local music phenomenon. Coming out of the smaller Brisbane scene, many things are strikingly obvious when listening to the industrial-cum-alternative metal twists and turns of the opener, Hollow. Duality and the Republic wears his influences on his sleeve-the winding time signatures
and razor-thin guitar sound of Industrial hero Trent Reznor melds with Deftones' softly crooned effects-soaked vocals; Soundgarden-inspired tense grunge aesthetics and atmosphere at times clash with a slightly Meshuggah-esque rhythmic chug. Even snippets of fellow Down-Under rockers Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus can occasionally be heard in the guitar and vocals, above the razor-thin distortion. This isn't all a bad thing either, regardless of how undesirable any identifiable links with other artists are considered in today's music world. Far from attempting to copy and paste elements of another sound and pass it off as his own, Duality and the Republic, by giving credit where credit is due, succeeds in synthesising a highly-entertaining EP that refuses to be bogged down in pretentiousness, genre limitations, or unnecessarily complex songwriting and execution. The most immediately noticeable aspect of Duality and the Republic's music is that it is undeniably fun. Sure, the dreary angst that fans of Reznor and and co. have come to love is still there in full force, but hiding just behind that is a well of enthusiasm-Duality and the Republic is obviously having fun writing and performing this music, and doesn't do so for anyone but himself. The slight nuances identifiable in almost very band from Down Under-the slight vocal twang, the irresistable head-nodding moments, that uniquely Australian atmosphere so hard to pin down exactly-are too all apparent on Uno, invigorating the Industrial/Alternative formula with something not quite done before. Keeping things short, simple and catchy, Duality and the Republic's debut EP provides a nice slab of Industrial/Alternative Metal that seldom gets boring or old-hat.
Of course, being the product of a smaller, local act, Uno's DIY production ethic is one of the defining sounds of the band. Though it may be irksome to those with ears less accustomed to the harsher and fuzzier aspects of music, Uno's fuzz-and-distortion-soaked drum and guitar tracks imbue the record with an almost innocent charm, and match perfectly with the angsty, sometimes-crooned, sometimes-screeched lyrics of the occasionally indecipherable vocal attack. Giving the record a sense of atmosphere and personality that a generic Adam D.-style triggered-and-filtered approach would never be able to achieve, Duality and the Republic's DIY production methods, while requiring some time to get used to, only serve the final product when heard from the right angle. The songwriting on the EP isn't anything groundbreaking or new, and at times may sound a bit samey, especially during the few when the EP enters a three-chord chug pattern. The saving grace of these moments, however, are the finesse with which the guitar layers and ambient melodies are placed and woven over the top of such moments. Though their tone may be ill-suited at times, and a sense of repetition is inevitable after a fair deal of listens, these interwoven guitar melodies never fail to break the monotony of an otherwise unappealing chord-progression, and show huge potential in the project for future releases.
Uno isn't trying to change the face of the music industry. Duality and the Republic has no illusions about this one-this isn't a groundbreaking EP. What it is, however, is undeniably fun. Duality and the Republic plays his music with enthusiasm, conviction and a no-nonsense attitude rarely seen in the music industry these days. The few mistakes and out-of-place moments in songwriting and production never
get in the way of how enjoyable this EP can get-in fact, their presence here is of twofold benefit for the man behind the Duality. By both injecting an innocent and youthful charm into the music, and showing the potential for future releases, Duality and the Republic not only ensures the enjoyability of his debut EP, but has a good chance of garnering a fairly sizeable fanbase at the same time. The material on this EP may not be the strongest Duality and the Republic will ever produce, but the bar of expectations for future releases has already been set quite high.
(A quick note-this review was originally written for the first release that this material saw, as "A Damaged Machine" under the name "Delusion Twin". ).
(As a final note, the entire EP is available at dualityandtherepublic.bandcamp.com).