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. Oh, and they have a new drummer. With the departure of Kate Wilson, Jasper Fenton joins the band early 2015.
Their second release ‘Sonicology’ 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” opens the album with its rollicking drumbeat as church bells ring out over blistering fuzz guitar riffs. “Hit And Miss” retains elements of the bands poppy songwriting moments with it's multi layered guitars and sun drenched harmonies, while title track blends soul driving bass lines with multi layered beats and filtered Moog bass lines.
The rest of ‘Sonicology’ is just as varied - synths swell over warped guitar tracks, funk and disco guitars chime over synthesizers while brass instruments wail in the distance.
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.