Nicholas Allbrook is still an oddball, and Pure Gardiya is a beautiful, polished oddity

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Pure Gardiya is the latest solo release from one of Australia’s greatest weirdos and psychedelia incarnate – Nicholas Allbrook.

He is garnering quite a reputation – personally and professionally the trippy rocker has been turning heads all over the world for years now. Most well known as the bizarre front man of Aussie face-melters Pond, Allbrook was also part of Tame Impala during their formation, and is associated with Mink Mussell Creek as well the permanently cheap-ticketed, crowd favourite Peter Bibby.

Nicholas Allbrook

Nicholas Allbrook is back with Pure Gardiya – an unbridled foray into weird and wonderful soundscapes that is deeply personal and incredibly fascinating.

Allbrook has ridden the monstrous wave of Perth’s psychedelic scene around Australia and the world over the last decade, blowing minds with Pond, sinking beers with Bibby, playing festivals with Tame Impala, and sporadically throwing out a solo release.

The newest is a more self-reflective, more stripped back and story driven record than the usual Allbrook work.

Gardiya means ‘outsider’ in the Kimberly, where Allbrook is from. This album instantly comes across as deeply personal and immensely honest, relieving Pond’s synth and guitar heavy walls of sound for quieter instrumentals and cleaner, undistorted vocals.

The opening track, In the Gutter, is the perfect example.

Twinkling grand piano and twangy guitar lines make for a softer experience than what Allbrook fans will be more comfortable with, and one gets the feeling of being in the same room as Allbrook from the vocals; bare-bones and harmonic.

While his purpose with Pond is to trip-out and entertain, Allbrook takes the role of the narrator with Pure Gardiya, constantly singing in first person tales of Australian existence and his upbringing.

This more subtle style perforates the record. Karrakatta Cemetery is more of a ballad than a banger, an emotional piece about loss and home. Billy Leary starts off in this same style, but with percussion playing a larger part in the mix.

Unlike the other two tracks mentioned, however, it features choral build-ups to a thundering 30-second crescendo of explosive synths, psychedelic effects and distorted guitar shreds likely to make you drop your beef. Definitely the moment of Pure Gardiya where the Pond influence most shines through.

Putting out any release, let alone a solo release, into our current musical climate comes with a degree of pressure and uncertainty, and this is especially true of a genre of music which relies on inventiveness and experimentation.

One needs to call upon huge personal creativity, a good ear for an original sound and instrumental talent.

Allbrook is the rare artist who possesses it all, and whether he is writing an essay, writing music or writing a children’s book, creativity oozes through everything he lays his hands on. The Allbrook style continues to shine with Pure Gardiya, an aural extension of who he is as a person and an artist, however weird and wonderful.

Advance is the single from the album, a sarcastically Australian track lyrically with a bigger, more in-your’s-face design that requires you to sit and think. A certain standout on the album, as opposing to the next track, A Fool There Was, which is a four minute lamentation full of sharp strings and out of tune shouting.

Such a formula has no doubt worked for Allbrook in the past, but in this case it makes for difficult listening.

The album closes strongly, however, with Deer. An almost ambient track, a quiet cymbal keeps rhythm throughout while almost improvisational grand piano plays over deeper, swollen strings. Allbrook’s vocals are forsaken for spoken French samples which fit the ticket surprisingly well, finishing the album with a melodic lullaby, a sonic fade-out.

An honesty like that which Allbrook wears loudly is what allows his work to pierce through his scene as an outlier. Whether you like it or not, and some won’t (as we have said before – the tragedy of the experimental artist is there will always be listeners your sound just won’t click with), you can’t argue with the personality this record has.

If you have enjoyed his previous work; Pond, solo or otherwise, there will be moments on the album to be found and appreciated. Pure Gardiya is an unabashed foray into one of the most unexplainable and peculiar minds in Australian music, and Allbrook’s left-of-field oddness works as strongly as ever in his favour.

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