At the pace of lots of albums I hear these days, Divide and Dissolve’s new album Gas Lit is glacial. This analogy works not only in terms of the speed of most of the album, but also of its weight. Lots of the tones here feel like they sit on top of even more enormous rumblings and growlings below what is audible to us.
In the context of a low quality stream like Spotify, where I’ve been listening to this album, this is even more of an achievement: to truly force something so overwhelming into a compressed format, so you can still enjoy being totally blasted away by it, and just wonder at what else might lie beneath.
It’s a short album, at only 34 minutes, but with the exception of the mid-album poem, ‘Did you have something to do with it’, Gas Lit continually, relentlessly destroys everything it confronts. The peak of this incredible sound is probably ‘Prove it’, which allows for a slightly more structured build to come through. The lack of it elsewhere is no criticism though – Divide and Dissolve are pretty clearly not interested in making “tunes” in the traditional sense. Instead, they want to let us sink into the intricacies of the monsters they create.
It’s important to also mention that the band are a refreshing change of profile from the drone/ metal band clichés – no Scandinavian all-male five piece here, but two fantastically inventive women from Australia, writing music that has a heavy political agenda all its own. As they say on their website:
“We would like to observe a radical shift in the current paradigm of complacency in regards to oppressive power dynamics, genocide, racism, white supremacy, and colonisation.”
The seriousness of these political narratives fit the crushing sounds they create here, which refuses to let you go. It’s not all “simple” distorted guitars either – the integration of saxophone by band member Takiaya Reed works beautifully to offset that drive, in a complex and nuanced mesh with the drums sounds of Sylvie Nehill.
Gas Lit is a fresh, powerful, riveting and deeply rewarding listen, which you simply must not miss.
Words by Nick Parker