Listening to Nicholas Allbrook’s Walrus EP is like staring at a painting of Dali. Trying to understand it is vain. What is important is to sense the creator’s genius. All the sounds mixed together are not supposed to result in something delicious, but magically, it does.
Walrus is a colourful exploration of Nicholas Allbrook’s psyche, a pastiche of weird and wonderful, yet incongruous sounds and textures that, although challenging, are immensely gratifying to experience.
Back from a string of solo shows around Australia and Europe, and a co-headline tour with The Laurels, the busy psychedelic rocker takes us out of the real world and brings us to an intriguing place where the ‘unexpected’ reigns supreme.
Walrus is the kind of music which makes your head rock slowly without you even notice it. It is an ode to instrumental music. The vocals aren’t dominating and the lyrics are not easy to catch. Nicholas Allbrook’s voice is often manipulated to become an instrument in itself.
The atmosphere throughout the EP is heavy. Allbrook’s high pitched voice on lead single Blanket 3072 sounds fragile, almost feminine, which contrasts the background bass beats. Some vibrations at the beginning of the song are similar to the sound of a snake using his tongue in a menacing way. This disturbing feeling is reinforced by the raspy whispers of Allbrook and the sentence, “She might die / but I don’t care ‘cause I’m high,” which stands out from the rest of the lyrics with ghostly resonance.
Allbrook’s voice is constantly changing, merging with the instruments. On Goode (when we were awake), his voice sounds like a long, slow groaning. Cocorosie fans will love it. It gives the impression of feeling the pain of a coma patient who is waking up. You first make out some unknown voices, but you don’t clearly understand what is said. Then you wake up, you sense everything, and you come back to life again. Sometimes an electronic touch galvanizes Nicholas Allbrook’s songs, as is the case on Noyfeck, but even more so on Salvo (or ‘Stop the Goats’). The result is much more dynamic and less melancholic.
Recorded between Brunswick, Melbourne and Allbrook’s home in Preston, Perth, Walrus was almost entirely self-produced and recorded by Allbrook. The result is a work of solitude, a snapshot into the shimmring panopticon that is his mind. This strange atmosphere is summed up perfectly with Chelsea: the sounds of interferences, the grindings, the many different voices and background noises can make it uncomfortable to listen to at first glance, nevertheless the rhythmic cogs that work throughout make delight for the ears from start to end.
Walrus is due out on October 16th via Spinning Top. You can catch Nicholas Allbrook at At First Sight, Saturday 14th of November at Carriageworks, Sydney.