The Break – “Church of the Open Sky” [CD Review]

Review: Lana Harris

  Ah, the beach. Golden sands, blistering sunshine and pounding waves are all an integral part of Australian culture, so it’s perhaps surprising that we haven’t heard more surf rock acts spring up locally. Instead, the genre is much more heavily associated with American waves, Hawaiian surf shacks or perhaps the laid back vibes of San Francisco.

Well, The Break are out to change that. They’ve taken rockers who are a part of Australian culture (drummer Rob Hirst, guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, from Midnight Oil) added in

an American who recently moved to Hobart (ex Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie) and created a surf rock record that should see Australia in general, and The Break in particular, usher in a resurgence of this laid back style of music.
The first thing you need to know is that Church of the Open Sky is a wholly instrumental record (bar the screams provided by Kate Crash on first single ‘Cylinders’). And the second thing is, the lack of vocals does not detract from the recording at all. The absence of lyrics allows the nuances of this loose style of music to be fully appreciated.

‘Squintro’ starts the record off like a prayer to the surf gods for a successful session. It’s quick, but somewhat solemn and respectful, and then ‘Cylinders’ breaks into catchy rhythms, a head nod to traditional surf rock with a modern twist and a great choice as first single as representative of how memorable a good instrumental track can be. The Break quickly glides past tradition though, diving into some more experimental moments. ‘Winkipop’ soars majestically, dipping only momentarily back into customary rock territory. The Break get foolish and just a little funky while playing around with the genre on tracks such as ‘Oyster’s Stomp’ and ‘S.Q.U.I.D’, the latter also twin tailing with ‘Phobos-Grunt’ and ‘Mystics’, whose sounds are as their names suggest – psychedelic trips into space, full of disembodied sounds, comforting yet unknown. Shrouded twists and turns occur throughout these tracks.

Overall, Church of the Open Sky plays like a session in the surf. There are highs where you’re riding the riffs like waves, and ambient sounds that mimic the peace found out behind the breakers, waiting. There’s moments of darkness where the minor chords crash across your head and you’re tumbling, lost and wondering which way is up, but at the end of it all you emerge, gasping and basking on the surface, laughing and having enjoyed every minute of it.

The BreakBuy: Click here for THE BREAK from iTunes

Live Review: Hoodoo Gurus, The Break, The Gun Street Girls @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 29 April 2010