Infinity Broke are a band that does not go gently into the night: their new album ‘Your Dream My Jail’ is an excoriating, driven, thunderous slice of post-punk cake that is angular, studded and visceral. Guitars wail and caterwaul, drums crash like waves on an exposed coast and singer Jamie Hutchings (formerly of nineties indie legends Bluebottle Kiss) has vocal chords that are barbed-wire wrapped velvet – whooping, sweeping, carousing, cutting.
The album has ingredients from Hutching’s travels in South America, the rhythms and the passions distilled and mixed with the rarified air of inner west Sydney to create a powerful concoction. Hutching explains the intrusion of exotica:
It was so refreshing and inspiring and strange. I tried to let a bit of that into the songs.
I was on a major bummer, having found myself single for the first time since my twenties so the bottom of my soul was a bit scraped out, and I was a stranger on the other side of the world so… there is some angst here too. This makes for an unorthodox mix, tropical rhythms with dissonant grating guitar parts and displaced lyrics, but these days, almost thirty years into recording and performing music, for me weird is good.
Opening track ‘Death of a Tourist’ has a full frontal brutal attack – an angular marching bass and urgent vocals with barely restrained full-throated clattering percussion. There is an anxious and nervous timbre to the track – a post punk blast with barely disguised vitriol that is utterly satisfying and that drives the music incessantly forward. Layers of noise and scything guitars thread this all together as the melody and chorus kicks in. There are no brakes on this one – a barely contained and utterly satisfying chaos that brings to mind The Birthday Party or early Models in its anarchy, power, and delivery
Hutchings says the track was written during a stint as a voluntary teacher in Colombia, back in 2016:
My ear was cocked to the exotic and percussive clatter of the street music. I was messing about with ad hoc tunings on a cheap parlour guitar and reading a lot. One of the books was a collection of short stories by Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai. It featured a tale concerning an awkward, overheated, and ill-prepared middle-aged tourist who travels to a renowned ancient site. He stumbles about in a frenzy; stressed and disconnected, eventually meeting an unfortunate end. It’s a black comedy written in the author”s inimitable apocalyptic style and I thought…this could me!
He has certainly captured the discomfort and chaos of a strange land in this frenetic delivery.
Second track ‘From The Belly of a Whale’ has rolling drums and reverb-drenched tremeloed guitars that cut through the air with the jangle of a spaghetti western soundtrack as Hutchings’s voice roams wildly over the top. The song is a dissonant blast over a sinuous bass, ominous and brooding, utterly chaotic at the end.
The eight minute long ‘Moonmouth’ has stature and presence with its arcing melodies and clattering progress. There is a metallic spine to the architecture and melodies form not only in Hutchings’s vocals but in the progression of the bass and the wailing guitars. Infinity Broke’s music teeters on the edge of violence and disorder: a tightrope made of wound up guitar strings and razors – ‘Moonmouth’ assumes a hypnotic flow balancing on this edge that mesmerises and transfixes before delivering a stunning knockout blow. It’s immense.
‘Addressed to a Dream’ in contrast is as much as a ballad as Infinity Broke can mustre: reflective storytelling at a relatively measure pace. And yet such is the beast that is Infinity Broke, it is never easy, never restful and always on that cliff edge gazing into the abyss. The call and response vocals add a texture and dynamism and the guitars jangle with an ominous intent as Hutchings repeats I know we’re lucky.
But Infinity Broke are not stuck in one gear – ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is indie pop: anthemic and majestic.
Highly influenced by singer/songwriter Jamie Hutchings’s brother Scott’s obsession with Duran Duran as a young lad and, more contemporaneously, his contributed guitar riffs, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ pulls back on the reigns ever so slightly, but remains a dynamic, thrumming track filled with pace and slamming rhythms. Hutchings explains:
The main guitar riffs on this one came from Scott’s fingers, he sent them to me and then I arranged it, adding lyrics and working on the rhythm section. When we were kids and Scott was in his early days at high school he had a bit of an obsession with Duran Duran. I heard them a lot whether I liked it or not! Some of it I didn’t take to, but some of it did. Even at that tender age the bass really stuck out; John Taylor is a bit of a marvel at the sinister disco groove. So despite my suspicions when the noughties indie ’80’s revival movement first took place, I caved on this one. Perhaps finally enough time has passed for me to appreciate some of the music that previously traumatised me.
What ever the professed inspirations, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ stands out on its own: a breathless exposition and almost bagpipe trill to the guitars lend an anthemic and imperious stature to the song. The jangling guitars ring out over the top of the insistent clattering percussive beats and the band has created a sound that is exciting and unique. An angular tabula rasa filled with passion, enigma and hyperactivity.
Hutchings says that thematically, the song is about survival: when feel you’re done for but you manage to walk away with just a little bit of your hair singed.
His voice has an urgency and passion that adds dynamism and sparkle as he sings defiantly say haha to the Dragon’s breath.
‘The Way You Tell It’ keeps its hands on the melodic tiller but nudges gently to open seas with its expansive air and wide open spaces only to be firmly diverted back to the shore by ‘The Slide’, which returns with all of the discordant noise and bluster of earlier tracks: rampant blasts of fuzzy, dirty guitars and yelping singing. Jungle drums thunder throughout and quicken the pulse, at times sounding like impatient battering at a door like an annoyed neighbour complaining about the noise. And you have to have some sympathy: this sonic assault would blast the cobwebs from the eaves when played loud. And indeed it should be played loud.
Pulling back again on the reigns, ‘Pebbles’ has a Springsteen/Dylan earnest storytelling vibe: the band has a muzzle placed on their collective faces to protect against bites, and yet there remains a barely restrained energy and vigour as visceral, raw sounds seep their way into the mix like a chain curtain in the background waving in the gentle breeze.
‘Your Dream My Jail’ waves farewell with ‘Quit Whispering at Me’: featuring again the hyperactive percussion and punching bass that form an angular carpet for Hutchings’s exhortations and pleadings. Again Infinity Broke appear on the edge of an abyss – barely controlled, seething, excessive and molded into a ball of chaos held together by brittle and crumbling masking tape. So cathartic, so fun.
Infinity Broke will be on tour soon too, visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in September/October – details here.
‘Your Dream My Jail’. was written and recorded across the globe from South America to the surrounds of a Marrickville studio with Tim Whitten (The Necks, Crow, Underground Lovers, Bluebottle Kiss) at the helm. A vital piece of the Marrickville sound.
‘Your Dream, My Jail’ credits:
Scott Hutchings: Drums, backing vocals, handclaps, left speaker guitar on ‘Dragon’s Breath’ and ‘The Slide’
Reuben Wills: Bass, backing vocals, handclaps, musical saw
Jamie Hutchings: Vocals, guitar, percussion, keyboards, vibraphone
Produced by Jamie Hutchings
Recorded by Simon Berckelman at Golden Retriever April 2020
Mixed by Tim Whitten
Mastered by Douglas Henderson (Swans, The Necks, Antony and the Johnsons) at Micro Moose Berlin
Feature Photograph: Mark Moldre