A horrible hack

The Austerity Program

Beyond Calculation

Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Controlled Burn
Reviewed by Alex Deller on Aug 18, 2014
The Austerity Program have always been an impressive band. One of those "fuck it, we're too dumb to quit" acts like Keelhaul or KEN mode or Loincloth who intermittently produce quality music to precious little commercial acclaim. True, dicks like me and others of my strange kind (speccy, nerdy, obsessive, often socially inadequate...) might lavish our praise upon them, but what does that really count for? Diddly, that's what: it's like your mum telling you you're handsome. Anyway, here they are again. It's been four years since that 12" they did for Hydra Head and seven years since their sole LP. Have they mellowed any? Nah. Have they made their bitter pill any easier to swallow? Christ no. What they've done is hone their chops some more and written some songs that are even better than the ones that came before. Like a slow evolution. There's no caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly shit with these guys: in the 12 or so years they've been together the process has been far more incremental. Like gills tapering off so they can gasp for a brief time on land or fins transforming into stumpy, funny-looking oven mitt hands. But it's beautiful. A mixture of coarse grooves, thunking riffs and howls that're caught mid-way between mourning and the hilarious realisation that our short stretch on this planet counts for merely a squirt of God's rich yellow piss. The Big Black comparison extends beyond the mere use of a drum machine ('Song 30', with its mixture of wonder and loathing for a someone named Jason St Claire, is straight out of the 'Kerosene' or 'Kitty Empire' playbook), but that influence is fleshed out and heavied up, possessed of a musculature and a dynamic sense that's more reminiscent of Big Business or Harvey Milk at their most dolefully rockin'. There's craft involved, y'know? Like these eight tracks really matter and that the strange, sorrowful stories behind them are of import. This means that each track works well enough in isolation if you fancy plonking 'Song 35' or 'Song 36' on a mixtape or on whichever social doodad you prefer, but as a collection of interlocking parts comprising a god's honest album they also work pretty marvellously too. Chances are you won't care a jot, but I can't recommend it highly enough.

Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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