For many Australians, Newcastle may seem little more than a pit stop during lengthy interstate drives. But the often gloomy harbour city seems to provide no shortage of inspiration for a small community of talented if not slightly troubled musicians. There’s something about the bleak local surrounds which individuals have adapted to feed their creativity. You need only look to any one of the slew of punk, hardcore and underground acts the city cultivates to find a fitting example.
Moody and expressive as hell, Twinrova are spitting out a visceral blend of gothic, lo-fi punk spurred on by winds of isolation that blow in from the Newcastle beachfront.
Comprised of Bare Grillz’ Evan Hill Porteus and Whitney Houston’s Crypt’s Zoe Nixon, darkwave duo Twinrova are no exception. “Newcastle can be a pretty isolating place to live. Lately the amount of bands swinging through the town has dropped, venues have shut down and much of the scene of the last five to ten years have moved away, so it’s sonically isolating for bands too,” Evan reveals. But it seems like, at least for Twinrova, there’s a certain relish to be had within the city’s downturn. “This fits our vibe though. I think there’s touches of that cold, wobbly isolation in most things that come from Newcastle’s little pool of not-garage-not-hardcore-not-acoustic-on-a-sunday-arvo scene.”
Pushing deeply into the lo-fi and gothic leanings of the post-punk sound, the pair weave ominous and coldly minimal tracks. The sonic template Joy Division debuted with An Ideal for Living has provided creative impetus for generations of dissolute musicians. Twinrova’s debut tracks 7th Seal and Elite Single demonstrate that the pair are intent on overloading this framework with as much dark pathos as humanly possible.
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Some musicians can be a little cautious in revealing their influences, but Evan is far from reticent. “Goth, darkwave and even more upbeat new wave all had a huge impact on our sound. It’s stuff we were really into and felt was maybe lacking from our very immediate surroundings,” he shares. “We used to do a cover of Grauzone’s Eisbaer, which is probably a pretty good example of where our heads were at when our songs came together.”
The opening track from the pair’s self-titled cassette, 7th Seal, combines all the droning basslines, militant drum patterns, jagged fretwork and despondent vocals that could be desired. More Peter Murphy than Siouxsie Sioux, Nixon spits forth venomous lyrics with a befittingly gothic monotony. The track’s hard-edged bass melody and eviscerating guitar riffs create a dynamic worthy of Peter Hook and Bernard Summer.
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Elite Singles draws inspiration from the disillusion and dejection that stem from technology-mediated romance. Bleeding with intensity and paranoia, the track’s lyrics profile two superficial and dehumanised figures. Pummelling synth drums and abrasive guitar licks reinforce a feeling that there’s no happy ending to this doom laden narrative.
Drawing the listener into desolate soundscapes and gloomy mental interiors, there’s plenty of isolation and melancholy to be had from the pair’s ambrosially dismal tracks. But what really comes across from Twinrova’s brooding gothic sound is the proposition that this music comes from a dark and genuine place.
Supporting Whitney Houston’s Crypt on their upcoming VACENT VALLEY tour, Twinrova will be playing Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club on April 4th and Brisbane’s Grand Central Hotel on April 9th.
The group’s self-titled cassette will drop April 15th via Brisbane label Virtual Cool.