Release Date: Dec 8, 2017
Record label: Alter
In the face of this nauseating existence, there is a long history of pranksterism as an art form and survival mechanism. Who doesn’t like some mischief every now and again? Total Control see this, smirk at it, and invite us along. “Laughing at the system! Laughing at the system!” Dan Stewart, aka DX, endears repeatedly on the bizarre new EP from his surrealist Australian post-punk band.
Much like the band’s arrival in the ears of American audiences when their first album appeared in 2011, the new release from Australia’s Total Control seemed to come out of nowhere. The post-punk quintet has apparently been quietly working on this new batch of songs over the past couple of years, as its members negotiate their day jobs and other musical endeavors. According to the press material that came with the music, that includes “various lounge rooms, bedrooms and rehearsal studios” around their native country.
Laughing At The System by Total Control Just as we were all closing out the year, Total Control shows up with this 21-minute slab of insanity that rattles from cage to cage all over the zoo, tipping over the bins of Wire-y post-punk, fuzzed out psych pop, noodling synth experiments and poetry slams and Aussie rock-and-roll. Beginning and ending with a snorting, sneering, utterly loco statement of purpose, the band — whose members Al Montfort, Daniel Stewart, James Vinciguerra, Mikey Young, and Zephyr Pavey are all involved in a ton of other excellent down under bands — refuse to be nailed down for a second. They are laughing at the system, and maybe at us as well.
Australian caustic collective Total Control present themselves as an oft-indefinable paradigm – something that is easiest categorised as punk, but flagrantly flaunts and eschews genre notions and excursions at a whim. Their loose carousel-gate recording and touring roster rigmarole, their emphasis on unease either through frontal assaults, slanted asides, surreal detours or rancid reckonings – it could all so easily appear to be like minds recklessly and relentlessly doing whatever comes to mind and carving it in skin, irrespective of sense and self. When the band first festered and gestated, it was all about angular dissonance, which culminated in the brilliantly abrupt Henge Beat.