It’s an unusual time for a band to be born. With much of the world in lockdown, the Now-Times feel more like something out of a movie than real life. Whilst we all remain hyper-connected via the internet, there is an undeniable undercurrent of disconnection, unrest, and uncertainty about the future.
Perhaps then, it’s the perfect time for Black Drum to emerge – a band built on exactly those kinds of dystopian sensibilities, as well as an adept wielding of surreal, unsettling imagery. The Sydney four-piece have just released their first track Hollylock, and if it’s anything to go by, we can expect things of devastating beauty and enigmatic dread to come.
On their debut track Hollylock, Sydney’s Black Drum conjure a cinematic picture which finds the meeting place between the beautiful and the bizarre.
Born from the ashes of Sydney’s HOTEL, Black Drum is a female-fronted post-punk outfit whose members also feature in the likes of Dive Bell and Enclave, with Sonia Zadro on vocals and guitar, Ryan Adamson on guitar, Charlie Hock on bass, and Presley Joy Paget on drums.
Whilst lockdown has stopped the band from performing live, it’s allowed them to work on some material recorded before the pandemic arrived. Enter Hollylock. The eerie, minimal track is driven by a drum machine, a single melancholic organ, and laconic bass, featuring a cheerfully trembling “winsome” guitar solo, and seductive, nonchalant vocals.
Speaking on the release, the band describe: “Hollylock is a ’60s Farfisa organ dominated ditty about an afternoon snatched among the flowers, during an otherwise anxiety-ridden period, where nothing can be heard but ‘sirens on the breeze’.”
Like the soundtrack to some kind of nightmarish Western or a David Lynch film, Hollylock demonstrates Black Drum’s ability to peel back the surface and reveal the rot which lingers even beneath the most ordinary of things.
Set on a “dreary afternoon” sometime in “late July or June”, Zadro sings: “We lost our shoes and socks among the hollylocks/And the smell of doom under their perfume/Nothing to be heard but the dead ladybirds/And sirens on the breeze.” In the choruses, she is joined by Adamson for a solemn choir of “la, la, la”.
Whilst the current lockdown laws make it difficult to produce things like photos and video clips, the band managed to put together a clip with whatever materials they had – and if anything, the imposed restrictions only helped offer up an equally uncanny clip.
Immerse yourself in the strange beauty of Hollylock below, and when the real-life dystopia subsides, be sure to check them out live.