NOTE: Constant Mongrel has now moved to the Brudenell and has merged with The Intelligence. This show is also now FREE ENTRY.
Still panting from their installment in CASTLE FACE’s Live In San Franciscoseries (where they ran a greatest hits clinic for basement sweat-rats) and from mega-mind LARS FINBERG’s outside solo oddballer, Moonlight Over Bakersfield, THE INTELLIGENCE return in nouveau mode with Un-Psychedelic In Peavey City, their 10thstudio album-amalgam released on their own imprint “Vapid Moonlighting Inc”. Load up on electrolytes, all ye who enter here…
The customary tin/aluminum milestone won’t fit this true band of steel: the current Intelligence iteration is most forceful and dynamic of any line-up in the project’s history. Although each performer has been smeared across myriad recordings and tours for years, the now-time assemblage of DREW CHURCH (bass), DAVE HERNANDEZ (guitar) and KAANAN TUPPER (drums) currently positions The Intelligence as a world-class unit, with members playing in partnership with conductor Finberg rather than at his sometimes-service. Lars is giving the back-rubs now, not getting ‘em --- a delightful & cruel twist.
There’s no aspect of Un-Psychedelic In Peavey Citythat tilts toward phoned-in safe plays, no easy feat for a 10-albums-deep unit. For this collection, the band cast off the comforts of their traditional cosmopolitan haunts (Sacramento, Costa Mesa, etc.) in favor Grass Valley’s Louder Studios, a wilderness recording burg (OK OK, with a pool, yes) helmed by TIM GREEN, a twiddler maestro who has assisted BIKINI KILL, MELVINS, COMETS ON FIRE, WAND and countless others in sterling fashion. The resultant recordings are the most expansive Intelligence material imaginable --- perhaps Un-Psychedelic, but certainly free, playfully abstract and awesomely stretched out.
In both arrangement and performance, The Intelligence sound more substantial than ever, rhythmically deeper, largely trading their punky bread-and-butter whip-cracks for something furrier and more adventurous. “Auteur Detour” (a confirmed studio after-thought deemed by the band as a “No-Wave Santana” exercise!) prompts head-smacking in terms of the sounds being chased --- you’ll wonder how they managed to catch ‘em and why it works so wonderfully. The familiarity of “Mute Me” --- snake-surf guitars exploding and retreating, with Finberg gnashing against perceptions of his own oeuvre --- is uncloaked and infinitely more severe take than keen followers could be prepared for. “Immolationin’” turns all manner of earthly malaise into sea-breeze soul-flow, closing the album somewhere between hope and end-times resignation.
A tune for our times if there ever was one. Un-Psychedelicperfectly captures a new Intelligence: nearly re-born, entirely invigorated, free from wet heaving, ruling Peavey City.
Renowned Melbourne post-punk unit Constant Mongrel are winding the gears ahead of the release of their new album Living In Excellence next month. In true Constant Mongrel form, the record carries a weighty sound, burdened with wry critique and self-reflection. It’s an album that casts an eye over the world and its troubles, while also acknowledging the inherent failings and hypocrisy of white, middle-class living. We’re premiering the first single from the record – the title track – plus a chat with the band!
It’s serendipitous that this piece comes out at this exact moment. Parliament is in shambles and if there’s anything that exemplifies the established system’s greed and self-centredness it’s a leadership spill. While not an overtly political group, I have no doubt that the members of Constant Mongrel would have some thoughts on the topic. The public outcry surrounding the matter is going largely unheard by the party in charge, with the power players too caught up forming inter-party alliances to, uh, do their jobs. It evidences a real disconnect between the governing system and the population – the upper crust is too caught up living their best lives to consider the fact that others are barely living. Constant Mongrel’s forthcoming album Living In Excellence isn’t a tribute to this stale power dynamic, but rather an indictment of the hypocrisy at the belief that we’re the lucky country – isolated from the world’s woes, too blessed to be stressed about issues beyond our own piece of turf.
The term ‘living in excellence’ is a falsehood. The vast majority of people aren’t living in excellence, and those privileged enough to be are usually wholly unaware of the societal status quo. White Australians live in a bubble of security and ignorance – blissfully oblivious to the struggles of those in their own country and further abroad. Although several enlightened individuals work their butts off to rectify this, the increasing amount of ineffective lip service paid to the cause prohibits real progress. The folks in Constant Mongrel acknowledge their place in this system, and the record dedicates time and thought to addressing topics such as modern fascism, racism and religion, as well as white guilt and self-loathing – all with a sprinkle of the band’s tongue-in-cheek humour.