Australia’s alternative music scene is mainly known for one man – David Thrussell a.k.a. Snog a.k.a. Black Lung whose style is driven by a mad originality and sense of humour that can only come from his antipodean origin. Even more so when you factor in the Throbbing Gristle-meets-Depeche Mode idiosyncrasies of countryman Tom Ellard (Severed Heads).
From this backdrop of insane genius steps Crash Frequency – part record label, part collective of industrial, ebm and darkwave bands from across Australia. Their common goal: to share their music with the world and show that, sadly, not everyone from Oz is touched by the same twisted vision…
The set is divided into CDs – Arrival (Home) and Departure (Club). Both feature almost all the same artists and, in all honesty, the “Home” CD is hardly more experimental, chilled or dancefloor-unfriendly than the “Club”. “Home”, in fact, rips into things with of the best, most energetic tracks on the package – Angelspit’s “Vena Cava”. This band has progressed considerable since their debut release (“Nurse Grenade”) and thoroughly entertain with their crunchy tongue-in-cheek mix of KMFDM via Atari Teenage Riot. Unfortunately their “Club” tune “Elixir” isn’t as diverting but it still leaves the listener with a good impression.
Sadly, “Home” soon slips into predictability with the very-dated sounding, Aussie goth stalwart IKON doing what they do and bleating about “the gates of hell” and Angeltheory run through a tedious SITD-a-like (also pointless remixed on the “Club” CD). There’s nothing intrinsically bad about the song but it brings nothing new to the genre. Which is exactly the problem with this compilation – it feels like they’re taking on the scene saying “we can do the same things they do” when they should say “here we are, this is what we do, deal with it” like Snog so adamantly does.
nOn-plus throw in a pleasant noise tune to the mix before Tankt go down the Seabound route – albeit a lot more convincingly than their dull oontzy contribution to the “Club” CD – and The Crystalline Effect offer a slick, downbeat number. The latter finally captures the “Home” statement and is good for a little head-nodding but doesn’t really go anywhere and is soon stamped out by Lux Voltaire’s synthpop-with-Stromkern vox.
And so on and so on – Process Void do the Waxtrax thing, Tycho Brahe are a lower-budget IKON with a larger dollop of pop, Resurrection Eve try to marry darkwave with VNV Nation sequences while Plague Sequence take on the Soman thumpy beat/minimal synth style and do alright. An honourable mention goes to Dandelion Wine who flesh out their two tracks with pipes and lutes creating a unique blend of pastoral and electronic sounds.
Overall then, it’s a compilation. Nothing more, nothing less. A wide range of sounds and styles ensure it doesn’t get dull and there’s nothing terrible on it but very little really grabs the listener. I can’t help but feel if the CD focused more on being Crash Frequency and less on being Australian, this series could achieve so much more.
— Christopher Fry