Most fans of weird and wily Australian electronic music will have come across Kane Ikin and Harvey Sutherland, respectively, on their travels. The former’s dark experimental musings, and the latter’s rubbery, nostalgia-tinged electro-boogie have grown to essential listening status in recent years. Now, to the delight of audiophiles everywhere, the two have teamed up as Coup d’etat. An upheaval of the state; a new regime; an endearingly audacious name for an Aussie underground electronic duo. Ooh la la. They released a four-track, 12” EP via CDT on Tuesday. It’s got a beautiful sleeve designed by ne’er-do-wrong local artist Traianos Pakioufakis. And what does it sound like?
‘Doublespeak’ jumps on you suddenly, a sly techno demon with its bright eyes open wide. Its insistent four-to-the-floor is overlaid with syncopation; woven through with noise colours and ambient drones. The result is a kind of bloopy island jam funnelled through the scummier circuit boards of a turnt UFO. A really nice, if somewhat surprising entry point. ‘Safety in Numbers’ is a more loungey house chiller, still swathed in plenty of gentle noise texture, but ultimately pretty pretty. There’s some kind of wiggly didgeridoo-synth running throughout that almost pushes it into the zone of psytrance exotica aesthetics. But not quite – phew!
On the flip side you find ‘Stateless’, pinned down by a more sporadic and spasmodic beat, dripping-tap percussion and neat undulating melodies. There’s a quiet but vigorous hi-hat that keeps the pulse up, as you float through the pleasant industrial haze. One for the Aphex Twin lovers, no doubt. Given the precedent set by the first three tracks, ‘Utopia’ feels like something of a curveball, even if it’s an entire quarter of the EP. It’s built around a funky synth-bass (granted, that’s no surprise when Harvey Sutherland is on board) and a swaggering hip hop beat. It also incorporates the record’s most unabashedly nice moment, a beatless interlude comprised of sweetly melodic chordal shifts.
Despite the duo’s name, Ikin and Sutherland haven’t tried to completely overhaul genre conventions, or their own established sounds, in the name of collaboration. Instead, they both bring their A game and carefully trace the happy synchronicities between their approaches. While their are two distinct flavours coming together here, the result isn’t a simple mashup: it’s a unified vision, a dark and lively symbiosis that brings to mind the thrilling alchemy of Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s Darkside. As for Coup d’etat, four tracks doesn’t quite feel like enough to understand what this meeting of minds is capable of. But it’s a deeply enjoyable start.
You can preview the Coup d’etat EP here, or check for it soon in your preferred local store. LB x