EP review: After release of Kaputt, Sydney punk trio, ARSE, are far from.

The Breakdown

It's loud, it's brash and it's in your face. ARSE bare themselves following four year gap between recordings. Kaputt it is, but kaputt it isn't.
Grupo Records 9.0

The Sydney threesome of Dan Cunningham, Tim Watkins, and Party Dozen’s Jonathan Boulet have squeezed out their latest offering in the form of 6 track EP, Kaputt.

The EP sees the band continue its’ frenetic forays into the world of punk rock, and follows on from the band’s previous two EP’s, Safe Word (2019) and Primitive Species (2017). With a sound reminiscent of IDLES dialled up to 11, ARSE have delivered another great recording into the world.

“We’re not trying to rehash a classic era of Aussie music, even though we love a lot of the old punk stuff,” says vocalist Dan Cunningham. “We just want to sound fully Australian. That is to say, a weird, fucked-up thing that only this country could have produced. Like a Justin Kurzel movie or a platypus. Kaputt is the closest we’ve come to that.”

The mission to sound like no other band but themselves informs every whiplashed second of the new record. Cunningham’s guitar riffs are the result of an unconventional (and apparently secret) string tuning. Boulet’s heavily-effected bass undulates like a snake through the chaos, whilst Watkins uses a three-piece drum kit to focus all power on the kick and snare.

“As usual, we’re straddling the line between punchy and dynamic and just flat-out distorted.” says Boulet, who produced the record at his Grupo World studios in Marrickville. “I was going for something that sounded like a dusty old vinyl. But at the same time make it listenable and distinguished.”

The EP kicks off with the aptly titled Go Hard – and that is pretty much what these guys do throughout the entirety of the all-too-brief 16 and a half minutes of this new record.

Second track, Smash Bomb, explodes out of the blocks and channels Diesel & Dust-era Midnight Oil with its’ protest about the destruction of Australia’s dead heart, with a furious delivery that would leave Peter Garrett gasping for air.

Level Skipper and Nightshift Blues both meld some rhythmic elements of later-day post-punk guitar work (think Protomartyr) with the pummelling and incessant attack of the drums and bass and the pent-up anger that exists in the vocal delivery of guitarist/singer Dan Cunningham.

Prick In The Franga is 1 minute and 20 seconds of scorching fury and is followed by the closing, and titular track, Kaputt, an incredible mash-up of tempos culminating in a thunderous, head-banging crescendo in which Cunningham propounds that “the world’s big and it’s fast…..and it’s up my arse”. Kaputt is probably the finest example of the band’s idea that they and their music are like a platypus – that indigenous creature that is a sum of many otherwise, individually recognizable parts, yet is so uniquely it’s own truly Australian entity.

Kaputt is scheduled for release on the 23rd February, 2024 on Grupo Records and can be pre-ordered here.

……and a little teaser of the EP…..

Feature Image: As supplied

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