The Presets deliver a masterclass in electronic music with ‘HI VIZ’
There’s no denying electronic music is absolutely saturated with new artists popping up every day, vying for some love on the internet through its many, many different platforms. Trends and fads come and go, the “next big thing” fades away into nothing, and acts who attempt to stand the test of time have to really put in the hard yards to keep making it work. However, when that hard work pays off, and an artist can emerge triumphant more than ten years on from their debut, the results are all so worth it.
That’s exactly what we’ve seen with THE PRESETS. It’s been 13 years since their debut record, Beams, and ten since their generation-defining sophomore release, Apocalypso. Four years on from that, we had the widely critically acclaimed Pacifica, and after that? Well, silence for the most part. Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes pursued other creative endeavours, from producing for new bands to working with orchestras, and while they remained busy, as for The Presets, it wasn’t until the very end of 2017 that they returned with a bang in ‘Do What You Want’ – the first taste of their so-called “pub rock techno”, and what an explosion it was.
Harking back to the abrasive heaviness and anthemic quality of ‘My People’, The Presets came back with guns blazing, assuring fans that the silence and the wait were actually the symptoms of a long period of making new music, and that we would all be in for a treat come 2018. With that, they unveiled HI VIZ in their own, glorious way, with two more absolutely massive singles in ’14U+14ME’ and the St Paul’s Lutheran Church Choir featuring ‘Downtown Shutdown’, with the latter’s video actually delaying the album’s release, with the duo saying on Instagram, “It’s a labor of love, and it has taken longer than we had hoped.”
So with that, June 1 saw the actual release of HI VIZ, clocking in at 52 minutes of “pub rock techno.” Stomping, deliberate and intense, the record kicks off with the frantic ‘Knuckles’, giving you just a small taste of what’s to come. From here, ‘Do What You Want’ cements the album’s intention of being as loud and expansive as possible, but in the somehow-refined and meticulous nature that The Presets are known and loved for. ‘Martini’ doubles down on this, throwing back to the early club shows of the duo with it’s looped hook and pulsating beat.
A clear highlight on the record, ‘Beethoven’ is a cheeky nod to the pair’s Conservatorium days, serving as a poignant meeting point for this element of their lives and their status as Australian icons of dance. Borrowing elements of their earlier records but never actually copying them, its The Presets‘ ability to let their past influence their present that makes them so innovative and evolved, always building on their previously laid foundations to make something new and exciting. With its sinister build, the album changes direction with the “feel good, Sunday afternoon, street party vibes” of ‘Downtown Shutdown.’ You can practically feel the sun on your face that the duo was trying to evoke in this track, but the moment is brief before it plunges back into the ALISON WONDERLAND featuring ‘Out Of My Mind’. Flipping the overdone narrative of a passive female singer on a basic electronic beat on its head, Alison Wonderland‘s vocals are so defiant and perfectly paired with the intensity brewing under her as she yells and screams.
The collaborations on this record are added bonuses, with Jake Shears of SCISSOR SISTERS on the hyper-macho infused ‘Tools Down’. The most clear nod to the “pub rock” influences and the fact the album is actually called HI VIZ, as in the high viz our nation’s tradies wear, the duo once again take this narrative and distort it to fit into what they’re doing, complete with the “knock off” siren sampled throughout.
Hamilton said of the album that they wanted to make something to “get you out of your head,” which they achieve over and over again, creating complete soundscapes within each track in which you can truly get lost in, particularly in ‘Feel Alone’ and ‘Brains’. They’ve tried and succeeded in being able to capture the essence of the perfect night out with your friends where you can leave everything behind for a few hours. Its this element of escapism that’s included that The Presets are so loved for, and with HI VIZ they’ve taken it upon themselves to explore this in great depth.
‘Are You Here?’ is a not-so-subtle flex of The Presets taking an artist that we’d probably never imagine on a dance track and pulling it off excellently, with DMA’s featuring on the club anthem, with Tommy O’Dell‘s voice (normally found at home on Brit-pop inspired rock) absolutely soaring over acid-house. It’s a slight breath of air with its steady rise before the all-out assault that is ’14U+14ME’ – arguably one of the year’s biggest tracks – and the near 7-minute epic closer of ‘Until The Dark’.
The Presets said they wanted to create the ultimate soundtrack to the wildest house party ever, and honestly if there is a house party with this as the soundtrack, I need to be there. It’s so intense, so rich and so refined that it really serves as a masterclass on how to deliver an exceptional body of work in the current 2018 landscape of electronic music. In a time where there is so much going on that we need to escape, The Presets offer up refuge in the best way they know how – losing your shit for 52 minutes to an enormous, expertly put together album that will have you feeling good from start to finish. Currently touring Australia, you can rest assured these songs will be clear highlights in a live setting as well as the pair take their record across the country for what is sure to be another masterclass in how its really done.
HI VIZ is out now via EMI, purchase here.
HI VIZ JUNE TOUR 2018
With special guest Roland Tings
METROPOLIS, PERTH (GA/18+) – WEDNESDAY JUNE 13
THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE (GA/All Ages) – FRIDAY JUNE 15
FORUM THEATRE, MELBOURNE (GA/18+) – SATURDAY JUNE 16
UC REFECTORY, CANBERRA (GA/18+) – THURSDAY JUNE 21
WAVES, WOLLONGONG (GA/18+) – FRIDAY JUNE 22
ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY (GA/All Ages) – SATURDAY JUNE 23
THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE (GA/18+) – WEDNESDAY JUNE 27
NIGHTQUARTER, GOLD COAST (GA/18+) – FRIDAY JUNE 29
Words by Emma Jones.