Release Date: Feb 3, 2015
Record label: Felte
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Where did Nite Fields come from? The dream-pop quartet hail from Brisbane, but in another sense, seem to have materialised out of nowhere with their recent uptick in profile and productivity far overshadowing their earlier career. This is a band that self-recorded their late-2012 single Vacation in a shed and released it on frontman Danny Venzin’s microlabel Lost Race, which has the contrarian tagline “unpopular music from Australia”. Two years later, the band’s debut album is getting a worldwide release through rising Los Angeles label Felte, their singles are racking up serious online attention, and they are on the eve of embarking on a three-month international tour starting in Russia.
On their full-length debut, Depersonalisation, Nite Fields build on the blurred-around-the-edges blend of shoegaze, post-punk, and electronics they pioneered on the singles released by singer Danny Venzin's Lost Race imprint. Produced by HTRK's Nigel Lee-Yang, the album's clearer sonics and smoother blend of guitars, synths, and drum machines opens up the band's sound, paradoxically making it more dreamlike. The change is fitting for Depersonalisation's meditations on disconnection, emphasizing the woozy detachment of "Come Down" and "Winter's Gone," an epic that ultimately thaws the album's chilly demeanor.
At some point in the mid-'90s—right about the same time that Marilyn Manson became the style icon of choice for teens looking for new ways to horrify their parents—the concept of "goth" started to get a bad rap. For those of us who grew up discretely smoking clove cigarettes while listening to Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance records in the '80s, seeing goth culture hijacked by the likes of Hot Topic and Korn was something more tragic than Rozz Williams’ suicide. It was the death of an aesthetic.
Why so glum chaps? After all, it isn’t every dream pop band out of Brisbane that gets a worldwide release on on L. A. ‘s uber trendy label Felte just two years after recording their debut single in a shed and releasing it on the infinitesimal Lost Race label (founded by singer Danny Venzin and specializing in “unpopular music from Australia”).
Gloominess is a complex thing to communicate in music. Vast emotional matter can’t be easily condensed into a personal reflection, and the further task of bringing that to someone else — let alone a willing, open recipient — is fraught with the usual missteps of marrying one’s own experience with the extra-personal I’m sure we’re all well-accustomed to. Nite Fields seem to bathe in an emotional isolation, and on their debut album — a fairly typical post-punk experience — they offer nods to a vague despondency through a collection of inward-looking pop vignettes and forlorn pop songs.
Releasing a record in January used to represent a little bit of a calculated gamble; on the hand, you were putting yourself at risk of being forgotten about by the time the increasingly important, and apparently now blanket, end of year coverage rolled around, but at the same time, the schedule for the first month of the year used to be a pretty sparse thing; there was a decent chance of increased exposure for anybody who stepped up to help fill that void. January of 2015, though, has proved itself an anomaly in the extreme, with an uncommonly stellar selection of new releases; you know it’s a good month for alternative music when Belle & Sebastian, The Decemberists and Sleater-Kinney all release fine new albums on the same day. The flipside to that, of course, is that it’s a pretty brutal environment for a lesser-known band to put out a new LP, especially if it’s their first; this is the state of affairs facing Melbourne’s Nite Fields as they ready Depersonalisation.
Nite Fields may be an Australian four piece originating from Brisbane, but they conjure up a sound of thousands of miles - and the odd decade or two away - from their Sydney base. Looking like a lost band from the Rough Trade roster of 1982, they’ve spent the last couple of years releasing low key standalone releases while working toward this debut. With explicit musical references to a record collection that screams out "ANGLOPHILE!", they’ve come up with a collection of songs that take a look back at British indie music’s past through the lens of a country thousands of miles away.
Nite Fields – Depersonalisation (Felte)Nite Fields, out of Brisbane, make a gleaming, chilled,achingly romantic sound out of heavily reverbed vocals, dual guitars and a subterranean pulse of bass. Online, you can catch the singer Danny Venzin pooh poohing comparisons to Joy Division and, in truth, he’s right. The band shares a shadowy, glamorous pallor with Curtis et.
The ’80s still hold sway over a significant portion of the rock underground, but at least it’s the starker aspect of the Reagan/Thatcher years, rather than the overproduced bombast of the Springsteen era. In the case of Nite Fields’ debut LP Depersonalization, that means a fascination with the atmospheric jangle pop emanating from the U.K circa 1986. With a preponderance of ringing guitars, brooding vocals and melodies that soar one minute and burrow the next, the Brisbane/Sydney quartet could be mistaken for a living artifact from the reign of 120 Minutes.