Album of the Week: Divide and Dissolve - Systemic | 2023 Week 26
Naarm-duo deliver uncompromising new album of ambient drone meets doom metal instrumental sounds with a powerful message + fresh records from The Alchemist, Joanna Sternberg, P Money, Cornelius, The Japanese House and more
For nearly a decade now, the Naarm-based pair of Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill have been crafting unique, experimental and sometimes challenging sounds that meet at the intersection of ambient drone and doom metal, with their instrumental compositions fuelled by powerful messages of anti-colonial and anti-white supremacist ideologies while acknowledging Australia’s First Nation’s ancestors and encouraging people to join the fight for Aboriginal rights.
Returning with their fourth album, the relentless and uncompromising Systemic, Divide and Dissolve have further honed their crushingly heavy compositions of guitar, drums and saxophone, while brief ambient interludes as well as opening track Want and closer Desire offer an opportunity to reflect and catch your breath… In fact, it could be said that Want lures you in with a false sense of “chill security” with it’s triumphant flourishing brass, before Blood Quantum slowly builds into weighty, hypnotic goodness.
A standout moment comes on the album’s seventh track, Kingdom of Fear, that features some striking poetry courtesy of Minori Sanchiz-Fung, returning to collaborate once again after being featured on D&D’s last album Gas Lit. Being the only vocals on the record, the impact of the poem is ramped up, offering a confronting reminder of the “Kingdom of Fear” in which we all live.
A simple yet powerful title, Systemic was named such as the album “examines the systems that intrinsically bind us and calls for a system that facilitates life for everyone”, as the band continue “to make music that honours their ancestors and Indigenous land, to oppose white supremacy, and to work towards a future of Black and Indigenous liberation”.
In a broader genre dominated by 10+ minute compositions, Systemic once again sees the duo delivering short, snappy arrangements, with the average track length a very pop-friendly 3.41 that still affords enough time for a number of looping riffs to worm their way into your head… all while being very “un-pop” in the best possible way.
Refusing to be easily pinned down or defined stylistically, Systemic sees Divide and Dissolve doing what they do best - making amazingly memorable experimental sounds that won’t bow down to anyone.
The best of the rest of this week's records:
Angelo De Augustine - Toil And Trouble [Asthmatic Kitty Records] USA
Indie / Pop
Brigid Mae Power - Dream From The Deep Well [Fire Records] IRE
Alternative / Folk
Cornelius - Dream In Dream [Warner] JAP
Alternative / Electronic
The Alchemist - Flying High [ALC] USA
Grian Chatten - Chaos For The Fly [Partisan Records] IRE
Alternative / Indie
Joanna Sternberg - I've Got Me [Fat Possum] USA
Indie / Folk
olywok - Haze [First Thing Audio] AUS
Electronic / Ambient
P Money - Money Over Everyone 4 [P Money] ENG
The Japanese House - In the End It Always Does [Dirty Hit] ENG