Hotel Wrecking City Traders: Make Noise and Keep Quiet

The cumbersomely-named Australian instrumental duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders have been in the business of noisemaking since 2007, releasing an EP and their Black Yolk full-length through drummer Ben Matthews’ own imprint, Bro Fidelity. They’re shortly to issue a collaboration with Gary Arce of desert rock legends Yawning Man, but in the meantime have issued the Somer/Wantok 7” single on their own, which finds the production somewhat stripped down from Black Yolk, but the songs comparatively tighter as well.

Matthews’ snare pops quickly on “Somer,” and the somewhat groovier “Wantok,” and the guitar of his brother, Toby Matthews, is appropriately tight and feels much more condensed sound-wise than it did on Black Yolk, keeping the band’s “one guitar/one drumkit” thoroughly in mind. As the cover suggests listening to “Wantok” first, I took that approach and found myself quickly lost in Toby’s riffs, which come through with a tone not dissimilar from but hardly imitating early Pelican. There is an isolated feel in the music, but more on “Wantok” than “Somer,” there are sweet melodies to offset that loneliness. And for what it’s worth, neither track is long enough for you, listening to it, to miss vocals.

It’s almost a shame to have to switch sides of the vinyl, as listening to the two songs digitally shows how well they flow into each other. Somer/Wantok — once again, taken in the form reversing the title – has an easy transition. “Wantok” fades out and Toby begins “Somer” with a chugging guitar line soon joined by Ben’s more frantic drum work. The track is noisier and meaner, with an altogether different style of groove from “Wantok.” I don’t know if it was the intent of Hotel Wrecking City Traders to show off diversity with Somer/Wantok, and I don’t suppose either song is so egregiously removed from the other (I already mentioned how well they pair), but there are marked differences in the sound and feel that come across. It’s like listening to two different movements of the same idea.

At 2:20, “Somer” drops out and begins again, seeming to want to cycle again through its component parts, but it wastes no time going in a different, more crash-heavy direction. The brothers Matthews have a playing chemistry such that to insert bass or vocals into it for the sake of convention would be to over-complete the band. The whole Somer/Wantok release is over in under eight minutes, and for those who would be checking out the duo for the first time, there’s no discounting the strength of the material on this limited-to-300 vinyl pressing, even if the Black Yolk full-length might make more sense as a starting point if only because you get more audio for your buck. However you choose to greet them, understand that Hotel Wrecking City Traders are a formidable duo with a good bit of sonic heft behind them, and that, in the long run, impressive as it is, Somer/Wantok is probably just a beginning demonstration of what they can do.

Hotel Wrecking City Traders on MySpace

Bro Fidelity Records

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