Review: Greg Boring – Heavy Syrup
Reading about Greg Boring is a bit like reading an avant-garde manifesto from the 1920′s. “A band at odds with itself”; “they don’t sing with words and they don’t think about sex”. So far, so intense. Hailing from Brisbane, there’s little else known about the band: no specific amount of members, no names, no clear photograph. That’s entirely the point; the band have removed themselves from the music, staying anonymous, obscure, and in the background. They improvise, swap instruments, neglect rehearsals and gigs, and that’s as far as it goes. Greg Boring are so schtum about themselves that for all we know the band might be the brain child of an ageing, single man from Latvia. We’re going to trust them, though, and take their debut LP Heavy Syrup for what it is: a psychedelic, abstract and sprawling set of songs which you can never quite define.
On first listen, Heavy Syrup sounds a bit like the output of an overly experimental A Level music student whose just found the sample setting on their Yamaha. At their worst, the band err on the wrong side of improvisation: the album is half made up of droning, aimless songs which span five or six minutes without having said anything.
There is some semblance of order, though. On tracks such as ‘About Time’, ‘Primitive Lotion’ and single ‘Fine Find Fined’ the band reveal their post-punk influences. Buzzing, horn-like industrial noises hark back to Cabaret Voltaire and Kraftwerk, whilst the distant, barely lucid female vocal is dotted over the top. The final track, the seven-minute pulsing electro epic ‘Night Moves’ is a moment of 80s new wave genius recalling the early days of The Human League – its droning synth tones this time pinned down by a subtle beat and the Tannoy-chant of a vague male vocal.
This is defensive, retaliatory music designed to make you take a step back and squint. It might confuse or repel you, but it will definitely intrigue you, which might be the aim behind the band’s deliberate anonymity. Heavy Syrup sometimes misses the mark, but its few highlights make the listen worthwhile.
Heavy Syrup is out tomorrow (February 11th) on Critical Heights. Order it here.