True to their name, Melbourne's Exhaustion create music that is as challenging as it is exhilarating. Last time we checked in with them they'd just released their second LP Biker, and they have since released a live collaborative record with legendary free jazz saxophonist Kris Wanders.
Always pushing ahead, the latest platter from Exhaustion is Phased Out; a 12” EP featuring two tracks on one side and remixes of those tracks by Mikey Young and Rites Wild on the other. It's perhaps their most rigid and punishing release to date, and an excellent comparison piece to the Kris Wanders LP.
We had a chat vocalist/guitarist Duncan Blachford and drummer Per Byström ahead of the EP's release on 12XU.
Noisey: Your collaboration with Kris Wanders was an exploration of your free-jazz side. These songs seem to be some of your most motoric. Was there a conscious decision to explore these extremes?
Duncan Blachford: What happens in Exhaustion is purely circumstantial. Follow the fluorescent breadcrumb trail into the night and see what’s around when the sun shakes. Until recently we had a floating line-up since the departure of our first bass player Jensen. That void became an enabler of the unknowable. The shorter freeform sections that crept into our shows when Ian Wadley was playing bass became it’s own axis. Meanwhile, Per and I spent a year recording as a duo – a bunch of weird shit on cassette tapes and had no intention of playing out. Eventually we got asked to play a show with someone we both wanted to see. That’s when Rich Stanley came on board to play bass. This recording was born out of the time spent with Rich, documenting the new songs we wrote with him, which definitely fit into the motorik end of the spectrum
Per Byström: Repetition has always been a key feature in what we're doing, and these two new songs, perhaps dictated by the lineup at the time, simply flew closer to the techno pool of our influences. Not minimal techno ... manual techno.
You couldn't have picked two better people to remix this music; what was it about these songs that made you want to hear Mikey Young and Rites Wild's take on them?
Duncan Blachford: We recorded these two songs for a 7” but Per, ever-inventive fucker that he is, came up with the idea of remixes. Mikey and Stacey are fucking geniuses; I’m always super impressed by what they do. I’ve never been involved with any sort of remix endeavour before and had no idea what they’d bring to the table. It was as good a time as any to find out and I'm stoked they could do it.
Exhaustion has always been very open to working with new people; I've seen you collaborate live with a variety of different musicians, and this record features Mark Barrage on electronics. Why do you like to keep the lineup of Exhaustion so open?
Duncan Blachford: Anything that destroys the idea of what a band should be has got to be worth doing, at least once. Anything you can do to keep yourself interested and keep things changing and challenging is worthwhile. A few years ago, I was drumming in Snawklor, which morphed into playing in Hi God People. The Hi God approach was very open. Anything could happen, even if it meant having a grown man wearing only a giant nappy climbing over my head while I was playing a piano to a bunch of wastoids in an old-world gentlemen’s club that mistakenly opened it’s doors to us.
Per Byström: When you eat a pastrami sandwich every day, you start longing for greens, or perhaps a lovely vacation to Romania. Ultimately you want a better sandwich.
'Phased Out' is available now via 12XU.