Fast, frenzied and a little freaky, the polyrhythmic techno of Lithe isn’t for the faint of heart

Any decent pair of ears gets tired of listening to the same old gear pushed out by artists that occupy a similar space on the genre map. A shock to the system keeps music exciting, especially when the criteria for a listener’s definition of what makes ‘good music’ is forced to shift drastically from tune to tune.

Such a shock is the Fervent Gum EP from Lithe, which drops June 26 on local Melbourne micro-label Enhancer.

lithe fervent gum enhancer

An exercise in tension building and dramatic release, the frenzied Lithe sound attacks in the top with a tough, muscular bass and big-drum support underneath.

These high and low bookends on an otherwise deserted middle band are the key contributors to the unique Lithe sound – abstract, urgent, and a little unsettling in all the right ways.

The man behind the name is Kyle Setch; a Townsville local who’s made a long journey south to new digs in Melbourne. The adventure itself figures heavily in the record, with Setch’s stark soundscapes reflective of the harsh and often surreal reality of Australia’s landscape.

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Setch’s unsettled relationship with the land extends to its Aboriginal owners, an experience that plays out in the EP in deliberate and abstract ways.

An erstwhile drummer, Setch’s fascination with rhythm is a staple of his sound, with rapid tribal polyrhythms playing off against big, deep, resonant clashes. This is some sort of techno, so beats are always going to be the pulse of the tune – but Lithe breaks the mould when he breaks the beat, his songs taking the occasional long breath before a big moment hits.

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Being out-of-the-box is a blessing and a curse: it’s what allows Lithe to be unique and original, independent of expectations, but it’s still a pretty surefire way of closing doors to big record deals and radio time. It begs the question – what does Setch want to get out of his music?

The Fervent Gum EP will be available on June 25 on Enhancer. You’ll be able to grab a digital release, as well as a mad little cassette tape for those who’ve still got a player to dust off and turn up.