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Album Review

HTRK's Nostalgia is a buzzing, droning, lo-fi deconstruction befitting the Australian trio's "hate rock" moniker. Recorded without embellishment using two mikes and a vintage tape machine, the album's seven songs blend into an agitated haze of addictive ambivalence. Nigel Yang's swirling, stabbing guitar isn't the device of terror here as some critics would have you believe. Nostalgia has been compared to the Birthday Party and Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, but those are just influences and not really indicative of HTRK's own original sound. Instead of the swagger and violence of those influences, the overall feeling is of beautiful disharmony, and more akin to 1990s indie psychedelic groups from labels like Drag City. Singer Jonnine Standish might be mad or sad or just bothered, but her voice is mostly just another patch of reverb-drenched soundwaves to weave around the guitar and Sean Stewart's bass, and the lack of separation in the recording means her lyrics are, for the most part, indecipherable. That's not a bad thing at all. The simple drum machine aesthetic setup, emotional distancing, and artsy backdrop obviously recall Suicide, but there's a sense you're not getting a full representation of the band's intentions, given the ultra lo-fi recording techniques. It ultimately feels like a taste of things to come when the budget grows, though fans of raw drone will zone out in its glory.


Formed: 2003 in Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Originated in Melbourne, art rock project HTRK -- pronounced "Hate Rock" and also known as Hate Rock Trio -- began performing in 2003. After their former group, Portraits of Hugo Perez, disbanded, bassist Sean Stewart and guitarist Nigel Yang recruited vocalist Jonnine D with aims to create a project like the Birthday Party with slow mechanical repetition (courtesy of a drum machine and Jonnine playing percussion), simplistic basslines, and deafening guitar feedback. Their aesthetic clashed drastically...
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Nostalgia, HTRK
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