[Another Dark Age; 2016]
It’s hard to believe Exek only really kicked off in 2014. It’s harder to believe all the music on Biased Advice was conceived before vocalist/guitarist Albert Wolski had his hands on a band. While the fierce mandate of the lyrics and their simpatico with the music surmises some individual conceit, Exek have some slick chemistry on display. With it’s heart firmly rooted in the basement grooves of This Heat (complete with a few dabs of dub courtesy of TH offshoot Lifetones) and the night stalking tension of Bauhaus, the band execute their vision exceedingly well for a 2 year old.
But even thats a pretty basic description. In reality we see a band consumed with all embodiments of musical greyness; the well-educated logical endpoint of 40 years of the relentless evolution of punk and unfettered access to the inestimable library of music we enjoy today. By depicting coldness so broadly, Exek avoid easy reductive comparisons while retaining the spectre of familiarity.
Opener ‘Submitted’ lashes with the demonic fever of the Birthday Party before ‘A Hedonist’ transitions into the gothic kraut for which the band is more commonly known, along with the Hex Induction-era Fall clamour of ‘Foreign Lesions’ and ‘Replicate’. But it’s grand finale ‘Baby Giant Squid’ that takes the cake: a writhing fever dream of Iron Curtain despair with a virtuosity that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Necks record. Its an impressively early career highlight, and like all career highlights, it transcends the worthy talent of its authors (all this for a tune that was directly lifted, unmolested, from a local release on the excellent cassette label Resistance/Restraint).
With all the effects and atmospherics Wolski’s words aren’t always easy to decipher, but the fragments you catch reveal a lyrical talent. Wolski’s lyrics are terse and impressionistic, the interminable monologue of an overeducated malcontent inspired in equal parts by the Blake-inspired musings of Tom Verlaine and the dreamscape surrealism of David Lynch. Where the caricature ends and the true thoughts of the author begins I’m not so sure. And that’s the beauty of it.
In a post-jangle landscape dominated by romanticised depictions of the affable slacker, Exek put you deep in the slacker’s head after the party on the long stoned walk home. It’s a familiar character, but a well earned foil to the halcyon hipster we’re told to relate to these days.
Download their record off Bandcamp for a neat $8. Otherwise you can order the LP here.