Flies Inside the Sun

...an Audience of Others (Including Herself)

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The first Flies Inside the Sun album unsurprisingly has links to Dadamah's recorded output, but generally does a fine job making its own mark. While it's clearly part of the excellent series of recordings that New Zealand's rock underground seems to offer up on a regular basis, ...An Audience of Others is hardly run of the mill even in that context. In large part this lies with Pieters who, besides being a striking frontwoman -- not so much singing as chanting many times, stretching out Stapleton's lyrics or softly intoning them -- often takes the lead in each piece via bass. The songs themselves are hardly hummable easy listening outside of a track or two, but where Crook and Butt explore open-ended feedback fuzz bursts or drones, Pieters anchors the pieces with her similar but more direct improvisations. Stapleton's percussion, meanwhile, eschews rock pound for endlessly rolling cymbals, hollow clatters, and other subtler approaches to the skins. Together, the four create tracks of varying lengths and impact, nothing quite sounding the same as anything else on the album. "The Man With No Arms," a quietly fascinating flow of crumbling, woozy feedback, bass stabs, and Stapleton's cymbal wash, is immediately followed by the starker piano and clearer bass strum -- at least initially, as more guitar noise and hums start emerging in the mix -- of "Absent and Erotic Lives." The centerpiece of the album, at least in terms of length, is the notably lo-fi but captivating "Sleepwalk," making up nearly half the release on its own. Familiar elements like Stapleton's changing but never fully in-your-face drumming mix with a constant up and down flow and development of Pieters, Crook and Butt's combined guitar work, with Pieters' own mournful singing and keening notes helping to conclude the song on a harrowing note.

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