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Playing host to a small but ferociously creative community of artists, the city of Hobart serves as a locus for Tasmania’s underground music scene. Driven by a lo-fi aesthetic, the output of these musicians refuses to be defined or pigeonholed as anything other than what it is. While many of these groups pass unnoticed by mainstream ears, there’s some undeniable talent lurking within the small and solitary spaces of the southern state.
Starklane’s LP Collective Madness Is Called Sanity, is an intelligent offering from an artist who isn’t afraid to call it out. It’s a complex listen ready to be slowly digested.
Drawing inspiration from the disillusion and drudgery of day to day life, Starklane slides effortlessly between lo-fi post punk and more experimental leanings. The alias of Hobart local Gigi Lynn (ALL the Weathers, Tantric Sax, soda creamers), the project is deeply rooted in the saturnine songwriter’s reflections on the mundane and misanthropic aspects of her existence. By Lynn’s own frank concession; “the world has gone to shit; I make little songs and whinge about it.” And damn fine songs they are, Collective Madness Is Called Sanity is an LP from the south that’ll make you sit up and listen.
Borne out of an assortment of cynicism, frustration and boredom, Lynn’s self-recorded debut Lackadaisical was hammered out in a space of week in early 2015. Compiling more dark material into a 7-track cassette, the follow-up Collective Madness Is Called Sanity represents a more considered approach. While the album retains the intensity and focus of previous LP, the 7-track infuses the artist’s material more textured and moody production.
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A collaboration with Superimposed Flowers on Palestine’s Matt Leary, S.S. stands out as the album’s finest track. Driven by a primitive and slow burning riff, S.S. smoulders with energy. Evocative of Roland S. Howard, the track’s infectious dissonance perfectly captures the searingly obtuse fretwork of the late guitarist.
A minimalistic cut along the lines of Joy Division, Hologram intermingles fuzzed-out vocals and heavy ostinato bass. Abrasive layers of feedback meld with incisive fretwork, while despondent vocals scratch defiantly throughout the sonic mire. Coursing with melancholy and abandonment, bass heavy sixth track Outsider sends heavy handed riffs crashing over a pummelling rhythm section. Concurrently lamenting and celebrating a connection between two outsiders, Lynn adopts a damaged croon. “It’s so useless/It’s so transient” she moans.
Originally cut by Hobart contemporaries Treehouse, Starklane’s reimagines the anthemic lo-fi rumble of Voyeur as her own doom-laden closing track. Distant vocals linger, trapped behind a wall of sound. The closer reasserts an impression of Collective Madness Is Called Sanity embodies as a whole. There’s a smothering sense hopelessness, yet buried beneath the existential agony there’s also a glimmer of optimism or at the very least a decadent pleasure to be had in embracing the gloom.