If I haven’t heard it then it’s new, so today we’re going to talk about the debut full length from Australian super group Tropical Fuck Storm, A Laughing Death in Meatspace. TFS consists of members of the Drones, MOD CON, and High Tension. I was not terribly familiar with these bands, and it is not a requirement that you are in preparation for this album. It is another animal entirely.
I came across this record on Twitter; someone had posted a dashcam video with “You Let My Tyres Down” in the background, and I asked for the band name. As an aside, I would spend the first few weeks listening to this record trying to find out why the name sounded so familiar. It was because I had seen them open for Band of Horses in Oxford in 2017. I of course was too drunk to know what I was seeing.
“You Let My Tyres Down” is the opening track and sets the tone for the rest of the record. The tone is bleak. At times ranging from Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd to the humor and bounce of in-his-prime Warren Zevon, there is a fun and a humor to the record from start to finish, but a type of humor you relate when your more casual friends aren’t around. Lyrically, with mentions of cocaine, vodka, and the death of a child at the hands (pincers?) of ants, it serves as a kind of winking warning as to how the rest will be.
From there the dreariness continues, but only after it’s been injected with a methy amount of funk. The guitars remain as whammy-barred and minor as they were and continue to be throughout, but the bass and drums step in to make the takedown of modern Australian culture so fucking danceable. From the Maggot Brain-esque “Antimatter Animals” to the tongue twisting story of the chess matches between Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue overlaying “The Future of History” and on.
Towards the end of the record we get to the title track “A Laughing Death in Meatspace,” which is the most subdued track on the album. Maybe subdued isn’t the right word, because “Meatspace” is menacing as all hell. The instrumentals are reminiscent of some of the more ambient aspects of The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute. This is coupled with Gareth Liddiard’s growl and the rest of the band’s beautiful backing vocals to take us gradually from a quiet story to an aching refrain of “My Runaway.” Rounding out the album is the song “Rubber Bullies,” which truthfully is my least favorite song on the record musically, but contains the same lyricism that I love about the rest of the composition.
To sum it up, this record fucking slaps. I’m sure there’s a better way to conclude this but I don’t know how. A Laughing Death in Meatspace is a lot of things at once: political, apolitical, humorous, sad. I’ve got a lot of distant preferences when it comes to music and ALDiMS hits pretty much all of them at one point or another. Not to be listened to while indulging in psychedelics.