Album review: The Break– Space Farm (Sony)

The Break have a pedigree like champion racehorses of music. Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie and Martin Rostey. Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes and Hunters and Collectors’ trumpet section, Jack Howard.

And like great racehorses, these guys have not become tired geldings trotting-out the same shit every time. They have taken risks with under-represented instruments and unusual sounds.

The band’s new offering, Space Farm (Sony), is not so much a surf-album as a collection of instrumental compositions with interesting arrangements that push and depart from their previous record.

Space Farm is a progression from the more reverb-surf  sounds on the band’s 2010 debut Church of the Open Sky (Bombora), which nods to the Oils’ seminal 1980 surf-instrumental Wedding Cake Island.

This time, we are taken on a psycho-spiritual sound-track that begins on the Asiatic steppes and winds-up on a windswept beach.

However– fans of the mighty Rob Hirst will be excited to hear his powerful drumming arm has not softened on this.

Tibetan throat-singers introduce us to the title track–a heart-thumping rock-driven composition that would be fitting to introduce a cricket broadcast.

The record then winds around dusty spaghetti-surf featuring a melodic overlay of trumpet that is arguably more essential to the band’s sound than the guitar.

Brian Ritchie uses deep his voice as an instrument by providing bassy vocal grunts and humming melodies across most tracks.

His love of oriental wind-instruments is showcased in Tumbling for Eons Through Turbid Atoms—sounds that expand and enhance and beautifully challenge the ear.

Magestic Kelp and Sky I Use You Like a Mirror arouse imagery of early morning yoga on Byron Bay beach, with a small swell, a thermos of chai and first-light hitting Mount Warning.

We are taken for a gallop with the opportunity to shake our wobbly-bits on the very trad-surf Time for Flying. The Break then takes us to an inter-gallactic desert plain in Things Are Loud Here, with what sounds like an under-current of sitar.

Brian finishes up with a Jim Morrison-esque, spoken-word, acid-experience. “We reel below. Sculling UDL cans, with one shoe lost.”

Humour is provided in the form of retro-kitsch-cheese in Ten Guitars, sung by the so terribly un-cool he is totally cool Englebert Humperdinck.

But–at first it’s a bit of fun with inane lyrics and departs from the core of the record. It becomes annoying after the third listen and is a skip-through track.

The Break classify themselves as space-surf, but have provided us with much more. Producer, Jim Moginie, who was the creative end of the Oils, has been let out of the corral to roam wild amongst the space-cactus.


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