Gatherer steam forward with edgy rock

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I’m super big on recommendations. If you’re someone I respect – say, Peter Garrett (more so for his work towards baldness awareness than anything else) – and you recommend me something, I’m gonna eat it up.

Case in point; Gatherer. Ecca Vandal was invited in to pick out five artists on Unearthed that she thought were worthy of praise, and one of em was this transplanted Kiwi rock band. Originally from Wellington and called This City Sunrise, Gatherer signed up to the Kimbra Pathway to Musical Success and skipped across to Straya, moving to Melbourne and renaming themselves.


The heavy riffs of Gatherer steam forward with gusto and experimentation. With all manner of rock thrown in, the pop elements are the most surprising.

The lads sit together with a litany of classic bands like the Screaming Jets, Chaos DivineDead Letter Circus, and probably Silverchair too, under the expansive tent labelled Australian Antipodean hard rock. They bring the key requirement to the club; a lanyard holding a licence issued by the University of Life for all out rock. Slyly, they’ve also snuck in some modern, alternative home brewed beer inside their case of VB.

Now, if you’re someone like Flume who said he finds rock music boring (I assume Harley doesn’t look that far, even if there’s something right under his nose that’d prove him wrong), don’t squirm. Gatherer, whilst they do use a base coat of alternative rock, load their palette with drops of progressive rock, math rock, post rock, grunge, psychedelica, tiny bits of jazz and electronica influences. Most importantly make sure there’s a solid dollop of pop in there.

The exciting news is that there’s gonna be a big slab of their stuff to enjoy soon, but Heavy Hail won’t come out until August 7 to hear it. Good news is that Gatherer have already plonked two of their songs from their upcoming LP on the internet.

The Machine is up first because it has a music video. It also is a pretty even example of all that I was talking about before. It’s an alternative rock song at its heart, but there’s so much thrown in it, it’s a very threadbare heart by the end of it (that feeling probably also has to do with the song’s length).

There’s a lot of vibration and distortion going on in this song – an aesthetic underpinned by the music video’s warbling – which gives it an odd edge, a sort of heavy psychedelica if you will. The pulsing bass and drums also echo the revolutionary swarm of techno. The Machine forges on amidst all these onrushing influences to churn out pleasing choruses and even a nice little solo on the side.

You could actually say that Gatherer are living up to their name, in a feat of nominative determinism, in collecting all these influences and making them play nice. Sensational Creations, more so than The Machine, is powered by the steam engine of the bass drum; it’s also less sludgy too. There’s still crushing riffs brought down in the chorus, but the generally lighter air of the song lends itself to a Gotye-like indie pop inspired by melodic forward guard. Tied down to a conventional song structure, Sensational Creations‘ heaviness and indie pop combination still come off as somewhat experimental (along the lines of Deafheaven, per se).

Speaking of experimentation, Gatherer’s older work gives a good glimpse into what woods they’re willing to venture. In Elvis Horizon, there’s have an odd-time, math rock beat joined with some gruff vocalisations. There’s also slither of jazz in the song’s lowlands. In between the eccentricity, raw and clean vocals risk their neck and shoulders to pop out and make themselves heard, almost getting to the crystalline of stage melody.

It’s really quite out there – maybe they’re Mike Patton and Ipecac Recordings worthy? – and I personally welcome it with open arms. I understand though, that there’s people out there like Flume, who may want something a tad more accessible. It seems pretty clear that the lads in Gatherer have decided to give their experimentation a straighter focus and a more mainstream edge. It remains to be seen if Heavy Hail will produce the goods, and get the lads some traction. Here’s hoping.

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