Review Summary: Noisy and treading close to incomprehensible in parts, The Barn is nonetheless an interesting direction for the Brisbane hardcore quartet.The Barn
is probably the noisiest that Idylls have ever been. Slowly unplucking the hardcore guy ropes that grounded Farewell All Joy
and Prayer for Terrene
, the Brisbane quartet’s latest proffers something more bridging the gap between experimental post-punk and Naked City’s brand of untethered, freeform, deathsax grindcore – if ever such a gap existed.
All over The Barn
, musical expectations are toyed with, as though it’s less an exercise in enjoyability and more one to see how many conventions they can flout in half an hour. Idylls seem quite content to keep memorable (nay, tangible) guitar riffs to a minimum, instead melding with a Zorn-like, psychotic saxophone performance to create walls of abrasive distortion for Lloyd Daniels to lay percussive waste under (the lines between jazzy proficiency and technical masturbation never quite clear). The bass guitar, in a string instrument role-reversal, provides a sizable amount of the bedrock for ears to anchor to – ‘Muck and Vulnerability’, ‘Maslow’s Dogs’ and ‘Glare from The Shallow Basin’ all featuring tasty low-end sections, more often than not the only beacon of ‘sensibility’ amidst the imposing walls of noise.
Climaxes, or at least, realised climaxes are a novelty, Idylls apparently viewing energy conservation in low standing compared to quick, aural devastation; as such, 9 tracks feel more like 14 or 15. This creates a little bit of an issue. On one hand the pacing is perfect, as the short and sweet flurries of vitriol keep the release pounding along; on the other, it makes for an occasionally maddening listen, as interesting ideas find themselves pushed to the wayside for yet another
saxophone-led blizzard (the 10 seconds of ostensibly laid-back jazz in The Barn
’s eponymous closer spring to mind, seeing no further development beyond disappearing into almost three minutes of mess). In truth, it all threatens to become a bit much.
Its most convincingly enjoyable moments, therefore (and by extension, its most resonant), come from where Idylls allow themselves to breathe a little – and thankfully, there’s enough of those to render The Barn
still great fun to listen to. Chris Brownbill's production lends opener ‘No Virility’, a rare guitar-led cut, a decided Converge-esque tone. 80’s punk influence bleeds through ‘Neuroqueering On Shift’ and ‘Learnt young’ and, as frustrating as its decay ultimately proves, the saxophone in ‘Muck and Vulnerability’ revels in jazzy, Oriental mystery. The Queensland group do – just – manage to keep proceedings short enough that their venomous approach remains effective, and if percussive excellency, avant-garde songwriting and relentless abrasion are your thing, then The Barn
will be right up your alley; for the rest of us, there’s enough here to have fun with through the fog.