As the spirit of Halloween has just blown past leaving its chill behind, the latest Suburban Dark album conjures the sound of ghoulish noises in scary proportions as it takes samples from horror flics and adds bass music to them. Death From Below is the Sydney duos second release and it truly is a dark affair. Suburban Dark know how to create instrumental beats and soundscapes that take influences from hip hop’s golden era to contemporary electronic music and bringing a tinge of heavy metal aesthetics to their sonic vocabulary.
Suburban Dark found their home on the Big Village label and released their debut album Second Front back in 2013. With hits such as Skeletonne and Mind Reader gaining a solid reputation amongst music fans in Australia and a considerable amount of rotation on FBi Radio and triple j.
At first listen, and straight from its opening track Deathsport, Death From Below sets the scene for an abandoned dark alley with graphited walls and shattered glass on the floor. This night riding music offers nightmarish rhythms and crushing noise especially on the composition Supernova featuring their frequent collaborator Jeswon from Thundementals.
Dream I is psychedelic and noise-driven at the same time and shows Suburban Dark’s musical versatility. Out Of Spite sounds like dental surgery with a sample that adjudicates: “Why are you such a derelict / Such a piece of human junk” it’s as menacing as it is pleasurable to listen to. Making guest appearances are Tell ( Grey Ghost & Mantra) from Melbourne and Big Village label mates Tenth Dan, P-Smurf and Rapaport adding their lyrical mastery and hip hop prowess to songs such as All Panic, Timelapse and Junkee. The majority of Death From Below however consists of instrumental tracks that make this album part disturbing, part esoteric.
Dreams II would be a great addition to the Bladerunner 2049 soundtrack with its dystopian and hypnotic electronic textures. The Cell is a stand out composition with its creepy samples and disjointed timing. Its evil professor laughter and chopped and screwed voices clearly come from a terrorizing sonic universe. Remember Your Code is lacking all happiness and takes the listener into an eternal void of darkness, it was also the first track released off the album. Bad Things is for the purist hip hop fan that love their turntable scratching and sampling. City Full Of Suspects would be a great opener to a TV crime drama with its mysterious strings, haunting drums and ambient overtones.
Circle Work and Cold Hands use minimal production to effectively add to the tension and suspense that Death From Below oozes with. Contaminated is the most colourful composition, bursting with electronic synths and glitches and Zero Resistance closes the album with ambience and a long monologue sample giving an apocalyptic ending to a quite dark and spiritual journey.
Suburban Dark are masters of the art of creating bleak atmospheres and surreal echoing canvases that sound like shadows stalking you late at night. However don’t fear listening to it, there is a lot of creative ideas at work with every single composition being skillfully well crafted. Death From Below could easily be the perfect film noir soundtrack or accompany a German Expressionist silent masterpiece like The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. You’ll be entranced from beginning to end with what is most likely one of the darkest and intriguing albums to come out of Australia this year.
Released: 3 November, 2017 via Big Village