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Lyndon Blue: Review

ABORTED TORTOISE - AN BEACH (LP)

Andrew Ryan

ABORTED TORTOISE’s debut album, An Beach, is just about everything you’d hope for from a Western Australian punk record: 15 tracks, half-hour run time, lots of sun-struck goon-flecked thrashing and a salty scintilla of uncynical surf rock. 

The very words “An Beach,” while basically meaningless, give you an idea of the attitude at hand. If these ratbags won’t even abide by standard English grammar in the album title then what hope do we have of them making palatable, good old fashioned songs? And of course the answer is none: these are spurting jets of festering scuzz, too many guitars crossing swords over blistering corroded drums, threatening to burn up like a space capsule on re-entry.

There’s a difference, mind you, between ignoring the musical proclivities of polite society and making lazy nonsense songs for the soliloquistic thrill of it. While An Beach brandishes plenty of nonsense and thrills, you can’t accuse Aborted Tortoise of being lazy. The songs are performed with diligence and gusto; recorded perfectly with clarity of scum by Brod Madden-Scott (Spaceman). The result is a carefully crafted entity. Its tempo and mood fluctuations (fast/faster/fasterer; loud, louder, loudest) are tactfully sequenced. The riffs and interlocking rhythms sound effortless in a way that requires a lot of effort… a lot of practice and musical telepathy, to reach a point where the whole thing hurtles along like a single rabid beast. Never dragging its heels, but coming close to somersaulting from sheer momentum. 

With the lo-fi immediacy of The Sonics, the faux-dumbass sensibilities of the Ramones and the sly musical inventiveness of Dead Kennedys, Aborted Tortoise definitely recall a lot of crucial punk touchstones. Meanwhile I’m also reminded of Melbourne brat-boys Ausmuteants, and more specifically, ‘90s Perth band The Feends - bonkers treble-heavy riffing with post-Ventures noodling and snotty sandgroper vocals. Plus, tongues balanced delicately in cheeks. 

Enough pontificating: what about these SONGS? ‘Goodbye Beach’ rides the barrel, both oceanic and vinous; ‘Cheese Supreme’ chronicles pizza fever dreams, messy cooking and existential revelations, complete with bass lead breaks and candy-pop handclaps. There are two very short songs about bees: ‘Bees 1’ and…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………………………………. ‘Bees 2.’ 

‘Spewin McGregor’ is an archetypal surf instrumental, as enjoyable to listen to as it is hilarious as a prop for a stupid (great) song title. ‘Get Mum’ is a convulsive freakout: parental supervision required. ‘Wasted Goods’ is vintage self-loathing of the embodied variety. ‘Bab’ sounds like it was written and recorded in real-time and is also the world’s best love song aimed at a kebab. Coming up the rear, ‘Crumple Zone’ is the LONG SONG but it makes its basic blues riff and tambourine backbone sound fresh, and after 6 or so minutes it’s still over too soon.

Aborted Tortoise might make most sense in the live setting: the visceral impact of a band going ballistic is most logically received there-and-then, with the sweat beads landing in your eyeballs. But like that recent winning album from Boat Show, An Beach does a stellar job of bottling the mayhem. Take it home, uncork it, let it breathe and then scull it like the filthy little demon you are. 

Cover art: Jessica Cockerill. And ain't it something!