Album Walkthrough: POND talk their charming latest album, Tasmania
Co-produced by Kevin Parker, the Fremantle band follow-up their 2017 masterpiece The Weather with another cracker.
Header photo by Pooneh Ghana.
It's hard to look past POND as one of Perth's most formidable acts. The Nick Allbrook-led ensemble have become local heroes over the years, out-growing the local venues they once used to pack out and now venturing out internationally, whether it be performing with the Arctic Monkeys and MGMT, or playing everything from Primavera, Coachella and Bonnaroo to Splendour and Laneway Festival. Their previous album, 2017's The Weather, was a dizzying masterclass of their sprawling melodies and natural, but hard-earnt charm, combining Allbrook's raw vocal groove with versatile and dynamic instrumentals that can range from subtle and minimalist to bold and blazing. It felt like the future of POND's signature prog-rock sound, bringing the nostalgia this genre can bring but pushing it forward into the future, something they're building off and experimenting with on their new, eighth album, Tasmania.
Co-produced by Kevin Parker, Tasmania carries on from where The Weather left off, creating lush, cinematic pieces of art that are often quite complex and intricate, layering soft guitar and synth melodies with subtle percussive grooves and drum machines to bring this swirling, psychedelic sound into 2019. There are moments that feel triumphant contrasting moments that feel more reflective and down-tempo - like Daisy, the angelic but long-winding, six-minute album opener - signalling experimentalism and songwriting refinement as POND offer another ten reasons why they're one of our scene's best and most prolific artists.
There's some incredibly honest and important songwriting on the album, which over its ten tracks, covers everything from self-pity and resilience to global warming and changing climatic conditions. So, to celebrate the album's release (and their impending tour dates) and to better grasp the album's creation and concepts, we got Nick Allbrook himself to walk us through Tasmania's every single and every groove, and it ends up quite a read. Listen to Tasmania below.
I'd love to just say;
It's hard to put any song down to one subject matter because they jump around between perspectives, and thoughts lead to other thoughts which lead to imaginations and fantasies and memories. Sometimes this is because of word association - rhyme or alliteration or a cognitive catalyst - and sometimes the “subject” is just too messy for a narrative. Our brains are always messy anyway, and on that note I’ll dip into the old cliche - “writing about music is like dancing about painting” (I think that's it?) - and legitimise all this babble by saying that honest and free expression (which I want our music to be) is not academic. It's not a measured dissertation - thesis statement, development of argument, references and conclusion - on global warming in Australia. It jumps around pretty mad like bricolage of all the thoughts sounds fears and vision of the last two years and gets cobbled together to make a whole.
If that's possible, rad, but if not, here's the whole track by track…
I was flying into Perth and saw the bushfires going. From an enclosed airplane view they looked like abstraction. Burning is all abstraction when you're working on your rig in time for raft up anyway. When your studying for T.E.E., we protect ourselves from a lot of things by going to the bottle-o, singing a jaunty tune, getting a lift instead of walking alone and pretending to know who we are and what the fuck we are doing here. We smile for the tribe, the Boyz, the lie. It's about protecting yourself from the truth.
Wrote the lyrics at a heartbroken time when I was listening to lots of Otis Redding. It was always imagined as a straight up pining-soul type of thing but… yeah, such is life.
Beautiful tune written by Jay. Lyrics about lots of things. Hard to say really. Young crew in Israel doing their thing, paranoia and the ever-encroaching reality of global warming, war and division, being starved of space and air and greenery. Groovy tho.
THE BOYS ARE KILLING ME
I really wanted a euphoric house pop chorus to make kids on pills lose their minds. You know, like Hyperballad or Ray of Light or something? It got a lot more organic-afied in the recording. About lads - big and small - wearing us out. Me, us, each other, the world's resources. The boys have a fucking hard time living up to their own expectation in country Australia. So does everyone, though. Darriga Watson and Annie Milgin helped with the Nyikina lyrics in the chorus, which, as strong community leaders, is very close to their hearts. They’re calling for men to be quiet, sit down, and listen. Hold your fire etc.
HAND MOUTH DANCER
Amber once said that my job. Hand-mouth dancer. It's just a thing I do and I’m not so important for it. There are a lot of people doing so much more amazing things than me or us. And anyway, we’re all just little mammals in a big world and endless time. It’s also about love and Paka.
This is a Joe tune. There was lots of collaboration in the studio making it. Gum did beautiful ambient synth breakdown in the middle. I wrote the first part about my dear friend Eric Fostinelli, who died far too young, but had lived more than most. He was the life of the party, every party, all the time, and now nothing will be the same. The Pigalle Country Club evaporated (from my point of view) when he left us. Joe’s verse I believe is about being detained in Jakarta.
BURNT OUT STAR
Gum written music. Great fun jam out at the end. 1917 was my room number in Jakarta which became my world for a bit (apart from the bar down the road, where we would genuinely drown our sorrows every night - first time I’ve truly lived up to that phrase)
Gum and Ginole tune. Stuff about the moon and blood and the great lies. The suppression of power and the demonisation of blood. Kinda relates back to BOYS ARE KILLING ME I suppose. We want it all even if we only pretend to understand it all.
Thing I made on the computer over a long while, occasionally dipping back in and adding, taking away etc. Eventually did a lot more taking away. Shame comes in all parts of life - national identity, personal relations… learning about you and your people's deep flaws is hard. It hurts to be dissected, but it can teach a lot.
Joe song. The doctor is the Fremantle doctor - an easterly breeze that comes in every afternoon to relieve the people of Perth from the stifling dry hot summer burn.
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