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Small coastal cities in Australia have always had a knack for unearthing some incredibly unique, high-quality artists. Maybe it’s the isolation from the hustle and bustle of the East Coast Metropolitan jungles, a sense of escapism that allows the artists of towns like Wollongong, Byron Bay and Perth to approach their music with a fresh piece of mind. Newcastle is no exception to this rule, producing acts Trophy Eyes, Rabbit and Silverchair all hailing from the coal mining surf town just north of the Hunter Valley. It’s amongst these names that post-rockers Majora can firmly place themselves, with their new EP ‘Aphotic’ a wonderful showcase of both quality of song writing and creative intuition.
As we ourselves admit, it’s easy for post-rock to be categorised by reverb, twinkling guitars and the occasional vocal mumbling to add some texture. Whilst such effects indeed have more staying power than other trademark elements of alternative music (a cough *breakdowns*), 70 minutes of instrumental builds can begin to weary, no matter how well they serve as the soundtrack to your study cramming.
Thankfully, Majora is more than the effects package of a Big Sky, mixing in aggressive synths, to-the-point pummelling drums and a constant sense of musical progression into their tunes. The EP’s title track wastes no time getting to the point, building around the duality of ethereal guitar lines and crunching bass, steadily moving between episodes in a non-hurried yet efficient manner. You won’t find too many 8-minute riff fests here, with the band opting to let their ideas develop as oppose to steadily layer the songs. The result is still music that fits for a drive through the mountains- you just might need to focus extra hard on the road, as these sounds don’t stay around forever.
For an EP, ‘Aphotic’ is wonderfully cohesive and conceptual. Each song on the track has a kind of prelude to set it up- transforming the record into a 6-track work of 3 prologues and 3 extended works. The call and response companions ‘Every Shadow Is Threatened By Morning Light’ introduces the listener to a set chord progression, before allowing it to dynamically expand on the emotive ‘Tidal’, never losing its musical roots, but gaining so much through musical experience.
This cohesiveness presents itself most evidently on the two-pronged closer ‘Kurst: Descent’ & ‘Kursk: Requiem’, with the former setting the mood for a 9-minute opus of dark, brooding sounds that swell to a relentless fury before gently subsiding. Like the clouds before a hurricane, the ‘Kursk’ suit paints a wonderful picture that is ruined by a relentless force, before slowly reconstructing itself into something more enthralling than before. Such is the way for the better part of this record by this group, with each song carefully positioned to respond to the former, adding new musical motifs, yet maintaining the mysterious language already established.
The great thing about Majora is that on ‘Aphotic’ they are truly exploring their own sound and not blindly copying the sounds already explored by countless other bands of their genre before them. Going beyond a simple tremolo picked guitar, ‘Aphotic’ dives into the oceans of both soft calmness and extreme heaviness, unlocking all manner of lesser-explored sounds and concepts in the process.