Ballarat three-piece SWHAT have worked their instruments into a style of modern punk that gives a nod to their roots and is stripped back from any of the synthesiser, playfulness or pop that characterises many of the contemporary Australian post-punk bands that will be on the layman’s radar. The band’s approach to crafting self-produced album Down In Tango Zulu is just as stripped-back as their sound; they used a reel-to-reel recorder in their home studio. Independent punk spirit at heart!
With eight tracks and a 21-minute total playing time, if you blinked you’d miss it. It’s fast-paced, ‘70s-punk-inspired and high-energy, and with most tracks going for around two minutes the mood keeps changing. The whole album feels like someone recorded the chaos of a manic house show. The title track welcomes a bunch of friends who arrive to an already pumping atmosphere with clinking bottles, high-fives and too many people piled into the living room. Henry (Policy Enforcers) gets deep down and dirty with lots of low range fuzz, low-fi gravelly vocals and steady drumming which is maintained throughout the album.
Party vibes continue in We Will Not Be Tolled which is bouncy mosh-inducing. Lunatic Fringe picks up the pace and becomes frenetic whilst still retaining the aural hallmarks of previous tracks. A fuzz fest of guitar tones on the crunchy end of the spectrum could make all the tracks rather samey but SWHAT have individualised each track by writing distinctive riffs and melodies which adds attention-holding variation. The occasional group harmony adds contrast for your listening pleasure. The party rages on until the last track of the album, Don’t Throw Your Anxiety Away, which provides a ballad-like end to the evening and party guests linger in the house to soak up the vibes of a great night.