PLACEMENT – ” Harder ” Track of the Week

Posted: November 25, 2021 in MUSIC

Like a shaken can of soda; post-punk/noise-rock from Kaurna Land (Adelaide, Australia).
Through a juxtaposition of experimental feedback, dissonance and rich vocal harmonies, Placement deliver a ferocious and often partially improvised live show, influenced by performance art.

At the very beginning of 2021, Kaurna Land/Adelaide five-piece indie-rock band Placement released their first single ‘Harder’. Angular, atmospheric, propulsive and impossible to ignore, it remains one of the most exciting Australian releases of the year.

Since then, they’ve released their debut EP “Lost Sun“, featuring ‘Harder’ and two equally engaging cuts of noisy but beautiful indie rock. If these songs weren’t so thrilling, we’d think nothing of such a truncated release. But due to the quality of the material, releasing just three songs feels like a tease.

“We always said that we weren’t going to sacrifice quality for quantity,” guitarist Alex Dearman says.

“I’m pretty passionate about being particular about the compositions themselves. I think you can have great ideas, but if they’re not executed well, then it all falls apart.” But there’s a little grain of perfectionism in the band’s collective psyche – though especially in Dearman’s way of working – that might further explain the band’s limited output in their two years together.

“I think we overly curate ourselves sometimes,” Dearman says. “We just work things over and over and over,” clarinet and saxophone player Stu Patterson says. “Sometimes it’s a bit, ‘Why the fuck are we doing this?’ but it works. Because then it doesn’t just turn into chaos.”

None of the members of Placement are new to music, but the idea of the band from the outset was to do something none of them had really done before.

“I had a few ideas kicking around,” Dearman says. “I had an idea of how I wanted to approach my instrument, which would be different to any other project I’d done.”

After meeting frontwoman Malia Wearn at a local show, the two creatives became firm friends and looked to begin collaborating. “We got to a point where we were like, ‘Okay, I think we’ve got an idea here. Let’s chat with some people we find inspiring in the local area and see if they want to get together’.”

One of those people was Patterson, who gives Placement a distinct point of difference through their clarinet and saxophone work. “I’d never played clarinet in a punk band before, so it was a bit weird to be honest,” Patterson says. “We experimented with sounds and eventually got some good amps and pedals to go with the clarinet.

Experimentation is a big part of Placement’s modus operandi. Rather than beginning with prescriptive ideas about what the band would sound like, they’ve given themselves the time and space to let their art

“We were just kind of flailing around, really,” Dearman admits. “I was playing in this open tuning that I made up specifically for the band. Stu was still figuring out their thing and there was this vocal delivery [from Wearn]. “But it really kind of all clicked when we jammed with Kim [Roberts], the bass player.

Kim comes from this real alternative rock, 90s rock, sort of background. She is generally a guitarist, but came in with the bass, turned on the fuzz pedal and smashed out these groovy riffs. And then it just clicked. We knew we had something at that point.” Left-of-centre musical ideas – spoken word vocals, bizarre guitar tunings, punk rock clarinet – were all part of the band’s quest for attention. And they didn’t care if that attention was positive.

“I was fed up with doing the same old thing day in day out with music,” Patterson says. “Starting out with the idea of, ‘Let’s just try and do something that people might not necessarily like, but [something] we want to make’.

“It’s better to polarize initially,” Dearman offers. “If it’s somewhat challenging, then you’re at least trying to push new ground. There’s a clear reverence for the noisy New York of the early 1980s through the work the band have released so far. But the inspiration to create outside of the realms in which they’ve worked before is also inspired by that time and place.

“If you were a filmmaker, you’d go start a punk band, Dearman says of the New York no wave scene. “If you’re a painter, you’d become an actor. People were trying to figure it out by just kind of completely getting out of their comfort zone.

“You kind of unlock this foundational or primitive sense of what art is. Rather than overthinking it, it’s so fresh to you that the first thing that comes out that’s kind of like organic and has like a sense of rhythm that’s natural, everyone goes ‘Oh, that was kind of cool’.

“I’m really trying to whip Alex into shape,” Patterson says of their bandmate and housemate. “I’ll leave for work and then come home, and he’s been working on the same guitar line for 12 hours straight. And I’m like, ‘Alex, it does not sound any different to when I left’. I think Alex has gotten a lot better than when he started. It gets to a certain point where it does get into dangerous ground, where you become too perfectionist, and then you don’t get anything done. “Maybe sometimes I’m a little bit too pedantic about tiny details,” Dearman acknowledges.

“But I think the reason why we’ve not released a lot of music is because we’re still a pretty young band, and we’re still figuring it out. I feel like we’re just kind of clicking with the sound that we want now.”

The band’s most recent single ‘Disintegrate’ might be a good example of where they’re headed.

It starts off more post-rock than post-punk, as the melody and timbre of Wearn’s vocals and Patterson’s clarinet thicken its gentle intro. Halfway through, the song turns on a dime. The band launch into an urgent, bouncy verse and a short but catchy chorus.

“I think there’s a few more songs that are a bit more progressive,” Patterson says of their newer material.

“For a while, we kind of went head deep into [the idea] that songs need to have a bit more of a journey. We didn’t sit down and say it needs to be like that, that’s just how it started coming out.”

“When it’s the first time you’re doing something, you unlock this new wave of creativity. It’s difficult to not compare frontwoman Malia Werle’s sprechgesang with that of Florence Shaw of beloved British band Dry Cleaning. It was a different band, from a similar part of the world, that Dearman was hoping Placement could channel. “When we started the band, I’d never heard Dry Cleaning,” Dearman says. “There’s this band from Leeds called Drahla that I really like. The love of detuned guitars comes from a more obvious place, however. “I mean, Sonic Youth are my favourite band and I think that’s pretty obvious in my guitar playing, Dearman says. “I’ve loved them since I was a kid.

Placement are Malia, Alex, Kim, Stuart and Giuseppe

Vox/Guitar: Malia Wearn
Guitar/Vox: Alex Dearman
Bass/Backing Vox: Kim Roberts
Clarinet/Sax: Stuart Patterson
Drums tracks 1 & 3: Giuseppe Caporaso
Drums track 2: Braden Palmer
Backing Vox on track 3: Vanessa Marousopoulos (Keeskea)

The pandemic has kept Placement off the road, but those who catch the band live as they make their inevitable

There’ll be another EP out before too long, with an album

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