ALBUM REVIEW: THE EXPLODERS – ORCHE.STRATOS.PHERIC

The explosive beginnings in the mid naughties culminated in an eponymous debut album and the excellent follow-up, Easy & The Sun. Things seemed on the rise in The Exploders’ camp but they soon turned a little quiet. That is, until now. It seems like this Melbourne group have been busy in the studio working on Orche.Stratos.Pheric. Their third album is a concept one that boasts everything and the kitchen sink.

Orche.Stratos.Pheric has the words: “An electric country and psychephallic rock or roll record” printed on the front. The band has also described it as “A mash of Hellenistic myth, modern life, wives tales, proverbs and perversion using music as a glue”.

The above implies some level of cohesiveness between the music, which is a dubious claim. In reality each song was written as though it was the chapter of a novel (although it seems more like an experimental one). Plus, it freaked out the band when they witnessed their fictitious ramblings creep into the real world. Imagine a heady mix of repressed memories, déjà vu and history repeating itself and you’ll come close to experiencing this effort.

The fact is “concept album” is often considered a dirty word. And while it may have replaced “ego” in the unpleasantness stakes, there is some of this to be found in the rock swagger on offer here. And when combined with some dirty rock riffs, they make for one heady and exuberant mix, just like a cocktail of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

“Have A Smile” opens things with fuzzy guitars that straddle the lines between country and blues. As these genres have sex in the sunshine the boys are sipping sugary coca- cola and this is the soundtrack for the ensuing chaos. This is particularly evident in the closing moments of “He Might Be Brave” because the end monologue sounds like it was lifted straight from an episode of The Young Ones. What the?

There is the 70s rock with a modern twist à la Jet and Wolfmother to be found in “How Am I?” while “Hey Fucker?” builds on this theme but is more reminiscent of The Datsuns. The latter starts off with a drunken ramble and culminates with the line: “Power and pussy- hail Caesar!” It’s a dirty rock assault and the band has said it’s about how you can get in there and cut out someone else’s heart before they have a chance to break yours. Nice.

Then like a debauched prelude to a big night out comes “Here Come Loverboy”. There is a sense of emergency underpinning this party theme because it feels like the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s revelry in “Date With The Night” provides a fun platform for TJ Alexander to do his best impression of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. The vocals here – like on much of this album – are a lethal cocktail of raw, gutsy, intense and powerful moments, which will make you hang onto your seats to say the least.

The sense of urgency continues into “Mars” where the group produce a number that could be by The Living End before the cacophony of drums in “The Countess”. Once the dust has settled here you get something that sounds like a pop track that is mixed with The Beautiful Girls’ “I Thought about You”. The album is completed by the climactic, “The Funeral March,” which tells a sombre tale about the death of a child prodigy.

So what does this whole thing mean? I’m damned if I know. But I will say that the songs bleed into one another with nary a care for pause or reflection, making it a crazed hodgepodge- but at least it’s an ambitious one. There are warrior-like solos, alt-rock moments, electric prog and country twang. The record’s also full of intensely big harmonies and a punchiness that is as rocking as a lead balloon and one right kick in the teeth.

Ultimately, Orche.Stratos.Pheric is a head-scratcher but there are diamonds to be found in this rough rock. The energy is kept stratospherically high and in reality the whole thing just seems to document either some strange days or a series of crazy dreams, just like a rock ‘n’ roll diary of a mad man. Or is it just another kooky day at the madhouse? You decide…

Originally published on 3 July 2012 at the following website: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/nd/albumreviews/orche_stratos_pheric_exploders_the

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