It’s been four years since The Laurels released their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Plains’ and many wondered if they’d ever hear from the band again. Their social media accounts were blanketed with questions about the whereabouts of new material and band members were regularly interrogated by drunken concert attendees, culminating in numerous requests to “stop fucking around and release something!”
So what have The Laurels been doing in that time and why has it taken so long for something new to surface? The relentless touring that followed the release of ‘Plains’ saw the band pushing the limits of what they could achieve as a live band and yearning for a new approach in the studio. Growing particularly fond of golden age hip hop and with classic albums from GZA, Nas and Gang Starr dominating the touring van’s stereo, the rawness and grittiness of hip hop production felt new and inspiring to a band that had become renowned for their lush sonic textures.
Following hard drive crashes, lineup changes and family tragedies, the band built their own studio space that they dubbed Volume Plus (a reference to the sign stolen from an abandoned petrol station next door) and a year and half of intensive sonic experimentation began. Dropping money on old hardware samplers, synthesizers and stacks of bargain bin record finds, they began employing the techniques used by the old school hip-hop producers they’d been inspired by.
Their second release ‘Sonicology’ (due out October 14th through Rice Is Nice – preorders now available at http://www.riceisnice.net/store/ which will come with a limited edition print from We Buy Your Kids) is a result of their determination to reinvent themselves and their desire to produce something not bound by time or genre. The term ‘Sonicology’ refers to the healing power of sound and music, making particular reference to the manipulation of sound in order to reach elevated levels of consciousness. Fans had a taste of the record in mid 2015 with first single ‘Zodiac K’, a synthesizer odyssey with hard hitting drums and spoken word that showcased a step away from the guitar heavy psychedelia that the band had become known for.
‘Reentry’ was written and recorded whilst camped out on a friends lounge room floor during the Blue Mountains bush fires of 2013. Forced to leave behind all valuables except for instruments and with the sky glowing red as they loaded up the car, The Laurels aimed to cause some explosions of their own when they reentered the city.
Written with the express intention of being the first song on the album, it functions similar to how a hype man in a rap crew would (something The Laurels lack as they are not a rap group and usually quite modest). Pumping up the bands own tyres, declaring their mission statement, calling out world leaders with the wrong priorities whilst referencing cool things such as monks, enlightenment and the Philadelphia Experiment for extra street cred. ‘Reentry’ also expresses the bands dissatisfaction at always being lumped in with one genre of music.
Aiming to break free of the musical tags usually leveled at them, the band recruited Drew Houston of Sydney sewer jazz collective Wild Cat Falling on saxophone to wail over the band’s signature twin guitar attack bringing a whole new dimension to their sound. Line up changes saw Kate Wilson depart and Jasper Fenton join and SPOD got behind the desk and mixed the record. Distorted synthesizers puncture the mix while heavenly church bells ring out over the building cacophony.
Contrary to popular belief, The Laurels have not spent the past four years sitting in their lounge room punching cones. They’ve overcome adversity (and hundreds of annoying questions) to craft an eclectic collection of music which they are thrilled to share with you.