Terror Australis is the latest album collaboration between lyricist Sinks and producer Ramzee. The album is conceptually consistent, the beats are hypnotic and energising, the lyrical content is deep, well developed and delivered. But that’s not why it needs to be heard.
Terror Australis is a necessary subversion on what we are used to doing with music. We havebecome accustomed to consuming music as an enjoyable background sound – to hype us up – to dumb things down – to make us complacent – to set the tone of a party. A mindless mash of sounds that are contemporary and trending at any moment – to produce a delusional escape, of over romanticized fantasies of love or our egos or our desires – how hard we are or what a great time we are having or how much we’re in love or sad or whatever – Terror Australis is not that.
As usual, Sinks work in this album is more like a Rothko painting - you need to pay attention to understand the wisdom, why it is disturbing and appealing – why it make you feel uncomfortable – why it make you feel calm, angry and powerful. Why it makes you feel both responsible for the world and a victim of it. Terror Australis is more like an episode of the Sopranos – you watch it couple of times – you research the references and your mind expands with it as you search through the depths of the text. This is not the best fit for commercial radio, but it is a better fulfillment of music as a form of art. Something that adds dimensions to your reality.
In Terror Australis, Ramzee’s beats blend the style of 90s hip hop producers Pete Rock and DJ Premier with the sounds of Henry Mancini and Hitchcock’s main composer, Bernard Hermann. It feels like a soundtrack to a horror or thriller film – and provides the perfect canvass for Sinks to paint the worlds self-portrait. What you hear sounds surreal but familiar. Their combined sound is eery – you notice something is wrong something is uncomfortable – but you are drawn into the drama unfolding through Alex’s monologues – whole track verses, streams of consciousness running throughout the album.
Sinks spills 150+ bars per track, and that would be impressive in itself, but there’s depth to each line. Even throw away bars a brilliant and soaked in context and references. To fully understand Sink’s lyrics is to understand a revelation – like one of a horror film – an understanding that there is something wrong, off and uneasy – unacceptable in this world. Sinks throws out these lines of depth and significance and quickly moves on to the next, echoing our own societal acknowledgements of injustice and banal cruelty – emulating how we throw away these facts. We know about exploitation we know about dictatorial regimes – our own oppressive structures in relation to our own government and we engage with them cordially – diplomatically. For example – in Bootlickers, you can easily miss the context when Sinks barbs ‘resilient like a dealer up in the Philippines’, in reference to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and his declaration that all suspected drug dealers are to be killed on site by any citizen, without trial. Australia’s DFAT page boasts “the Philippines has a stable, culturally diverse and democratic society… Australia seeks to strengthen its economic engagement with the Philippines… worth over $10 billion”.
Terror Australis is subversive, it is not for background consumption – it is not for commercial enterprise – it is not easy on the eyes, it will not be televised. Terror Australis is easy on the ears, it will give your mouth brain appeal, and it goes better with attention.