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INFINITY BROKE PRESS

Sydney Morning Herald CD OF THE WEEK:

Jamie Hutchings, once of Bluebottle Kiss, has been making compelling and exciting intimate records under his own name in recent years. Infinity Broke, though, is a chance for him to again tap into the dynamics and combustion of a group, to see what can come of letting things run free. With brother Scott, Reuben Wills and another BBK veteran in Jared Harrison, Hutchings can slide along in a loose groove that encounters a storm(Gallows Queue) or a desert shower (Napoleon Aged Three), or bring an intuitively, if partially hidden, pop-with-drunks-chorus sense (No Mirrors Here) and make it work. But this band can also mix Television and the Drones (the 11-minute Monsoon) and loom ominously over you (Sinless). Bernard Zuel

MESS AND NOISE

Returning to a band format after years of solo work, Jamie Hutchings uses Infinity Broke as a vehicle for leaping off into the unknown, writes DOUG WALLEN.

It’s right around the time Jamie Hutchings sings from the perspective of a hideous “three-eyed monster”– a man with a face so gruesome that to reveal it is “to see a man break like a branch, to see children soil their pants at the sight of me” – that it’s hammered home just how intense Hutchings can be with his newfound band, Infinity Broke.

Of course, you’d have already gotten a substantial hint during the strangled guitar solo of opener ‘Gallows Queue’ (not to mention the lyrics), while ‘Swing a Kitten’ is pretty damn riotous too. Easy listening? Not by a long shot. But as much as this album plays like a worthy bookend to The Drones’ raging, monumentally bleak I See Seaweed, it’s tempered with a sweetness that never quite abandons it. During ‘No Mirrors’, the aforementioned song about a horrific visage, the tale is delivered with arguably a vocal blitheness over an almost happy-go-lucky, junkyard-country groove that sounds more like the soundtrack to a hoedown than to a nightmare. There are even Harmony-esque four-piece backing vocals, while that closing line about soiled pants is clearly relished by Hutchings. It may be black, but it’s humour nonetheless. So there’s always some flicker of light, whether in a piercing melody or charming vocal inflection or even in the relentless drive of the band’s rhythm section, which turns a long stretch of the nearly-12-minute centrepiece ‘Monsoon’ into a Krautrock-y midnight drive. Back in a “proper” band format after years of solo work since Bluebottle Kiss split up, Hutchings makes a point of using the band as a means of freedom, not restraint. It’s a vehicle for leaping off into the unknown, whether from breezy pop airs to demented catharsis mid-song or into the epic reworking of Bluebottle Kiss’ ‘Let the Termites Eat our Riches’ that is ‘Termites’ (also a duet with his pianist sister Sophie). He makes a point, from song to song, of surprising himself as well as us.Usually it’s a newly minted solo artist that prizes such freedom to explore, but for Hutchings it’s with his longtime collaborator (and brother-in-law) Reuben Wills on bass, his former BK bandmate Jared Harrison on drums and his brother Scott on drums, percussion and guitar. They made this album without shouldering much weight by way of expectation, cutting 70-plus minutes of material with engineer Chris Colquhoun in a former shearing shed in rural NSW and then crowdfunding and releasing it themselves – a first for Hutchings.

Maybe it’s too far of a reach to read the album itself as a similar blowing-out of one’s comfort zone, considering Hutchings’ rich past with these bandmates, but all the music points in that direction. Born from improvisatory twists and bludgeoned with wayward percussion – spanning the windblown climax of ‘Monsoon’ right through to the masterfully compact storytelling of ‘Napoleon Aged Three’ – it’s a brazen rock album courting danger without a safe word. Comfort zones are left buried in the rubble.Holed up in that shed, pushing his guitar playing and lyrics into meaner depths than ever, Hutchings was probably wondering where Infinity Broke might fit in the broader picture of music in 2014. Would listeners pony up for a jarring, moody, intermittently epic album and take the time to digest it when it’s so easy to just torrent something closer to background music while cueing up some half-baked listicle? Would anyone care about some Sydney band paying homage to the sprawling back pages of Neil Young and Miles Davis rather than obeying the ear-friendly, regimented code for high-rotation airplay? What neat classification would house an album so hell-bent on scrawling outside the lines?As with The Drones, Infinity Broke can seem defiantly old-school simply for having the conviction to, well, have any conviction whatsoever. Why should these bands bother to push their own personal limits, after all, when all you really have to do these days is push the product? But that’s what makes River Mirrors so exciting: these aren’t readymade singles you can figure out in a few seconds and comfortably map out in your head from there, but crooked and mysterious passages with a dense inner life of their own.

Everything on this album is a feast for the pulling apart, from vocals and lyrics to production and arrangements. And by supplying a mood-setting fictional snippet in the sleeve instead of a lyric sheet, Hutchings makes that dissection all the more of a goal. He and the band make us work for our reward, rather than presenting it on a platter.
The only way to get at the heart of what’s happening here? Listen.

THE BIG ISSUE

It looked like Jamie Hutchings, formerly of Bluebottle Kiss, had settled into a decidedly pastel-hued second act with his solo career. The formation of Infinity Broke, though, necessitates a hasty rewrite of the script. River Mirrors is sprawling and ferocious. Tracked live in an old shearing shed, the album is unmistakably the work of a proper band, with long, improvisatory passages, a clattering vitality and a chemistry between the players that is almost a compositional element in itself. While Hutchings provides his share of gothic imagery and latent menace, both in his morbidly funny lyrics and unhinged guitar playing, it’s the rhythm section that drives the album. Jared Harrison, Scott Hutchings and Reuben Wills are as adept at creating a hypnotic groove as they are at shattering the idyll with a surging climax. The 11-minute centrepiece ‘Monsoon’ demonstrates the band’s mastery of the approach, and also happens to be one of the most gripping pieces of music that will be released this year. EDWARD SHARP-PAUL ****

COURIER MAIL

With his band Bluebottle Kiss, Jamie Hutchings has made some classic Australian albums (see 2002’s Revenge is Slow for starters). Lately he’s been in quieter solo mode but with his new band Infinity Broke he takes up the electric guitar again (a Jazzmaster, I am guessing by its biting sound). River Mirrors has the same razor-wire intensity of Bluebottle Kiss, propelled by Hutchings’s trademark angular guitar exclamations. The album was also recorded in a shearing shed in the NSW central west, and you can certainly feel all that corrugated iron in the music. It’s a very rhythmical kind of record too, aided by the supple bass of Reuben Wills and the two percussionists, Jared Harrison and Hutchings’s brother Scott. That’s there on the opening Gallows Queue, with its steady floor-tom shimmy and scene-setting lyrics (‘I’ve accumulated for myself so much trouble that it’s high time I be declared debt free”). All feels calm until Hutchings lets rip with the guitar and whammy bar, howling in a manner which would have upset the farm dogs at quite a distance. Monsoon uses a Krautrock motoric rhythm as the setting for more speaker destruction. Fans of bands from Can to The Drones will approve. ****

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

After three well received solo albums, Jamie Hutchings breaks ranks and returns to the fold with new outfit Infinity Broke. Comprising of members Reuben Wills (bass), Jared Harrison (drums) and Hutching’s brother Scott also providing drums and percussive duties in addition to his creative eye for the band’s photography, the resulting process is an eight-track album conceived in a disused shearing shed in the middle of the NSW Australian outback. While this new line up presents a fresh challenge for Jamie Hutchings, the outlook of ‘River Mirrors’ throws up a few reminders of his former band Bluebottle Kiss, with influences plucked from a variety of sources ranging from Afghan Whigs, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth, Captain Beefheart et al. In fact, it’s the excellent and drawn-out ‘Monsoon’ that really pricks at the senses first, as it harks back (surprisingly) to his former band’s first album ‘Higher Up The Firetrails’ with its near freefall into oblivion of guitar experimentation midway through before finally reappearing the other side and regaining its composure. The doom-laden feel of former single ‘Swing A Kitten’ is expertly handled with its faster, faster, faster approach in the hopeful event that an escape plan will reveal itself before this dream becomes a reality. The pots and pans entry and subsequent rhythm of ‘Gallows Queue’ offers a quieter tone and possibly an offshoot from Hutching’s solo pursuits, only a return to former grounds resurfaces during a brief tetchy moment via the guitar. The final nod to the past is the reinterpretation of ‘Let The Termites Eat Our Riches’ now reduced to ‘Termites’ but making up for it in sound as it takes in a variety of moods of sonic experimentation; swinging from irritable guitar bursts, pounding repetitive drum patterns and fleeting high-pitched vocals. Worryingly, the realisation dawns that ‘River Mirrors’ could be the final chapter in the career of Jamie Hutchings because there are several clues between the layers that point to such a fate. Any such decision would be a great injustice as ‘River Mirrors’ is a stirring return to former glories, and one that equally matches in terms of consistency but also keeps a tighter rein on the experimental endeavours that only experience can bring.

THE MUSIC

Over a few solo albums Jamie Hutchings has been ploughing fertile ground with more introspective and quieter material than that of Bluebottle Kiss, his band from 1993 to 2007. Now he’s convened a new band and headed back into dense, noisy, exploratory and discordant rock music. River Mirrors takes many twists and turns, such as the meditative Necks-ish mood on Termites (a reimagined version of a BBK song), the swaggering vigour of Swing A Kitten, the krautrock repetition/release that is Monsoon and the Sonic-Youth-does-Motown shuffling groove of Gallows Queue. Chris Familton

BEAT MAGAZINE

Following the break from legendary guitar band Bluebottle Kiss, Jamie Hutchings released two beautiful but comparatively tranquil albums under his own name and toured around exotic locales from China to Europe in a mostly solo mode. In 2011 he began playing again with a three piece, which inevitably led to delving into the wealth of classic Bluebottle Kiss material. This seems to have awoken the more noisy guitar violence favoured by BBK within Hutchings, and it’s a welcome homecoming with his new outfit Infinity Broke. At only eight tracks long it’s something of a mini-album, though with longer songs Monsoon and BBK’s revised Termites pushing the ten minute mark it’s certainly not short on ideas. Gallows Queue is an upbeat opener, with jazzy passing chords and elastic bass over a jungle beat, building towards the faithful quavering of his vibrato bar and into a clatter of delay before returning to its original groove as its author yields to “take his leave”. No Mirrors Here has typical Hutchings tension in the verses to a cathartic release of cracks of sunlight in the chorus, and recalls little-known BBK masterpiece Stop That You’re Making Me Nervous. His voice is full of vulnerability and cracks throughout; and like Neil Young’s feels as nurturing as a comfy old couch seat. Water at first listen is rather pointless, being 1:59 of the sounds of a drain pipe after the rain, however strangely I find myself not skipping it. Many of the songs have an improvisational feel and Hutchings has lost none of his instinctive control over treating songs like lavish voyages into a very specific world, and isn’t interested in the simple destination of a catchy chorus. It’s at once staggering and unsurprising, the product of more than twenty years writing challenging and meaningful material with nary a dud note.

Best Track: No Mirrors Here

If You Like These, You’ll Love This: Sonic Youth playing Coltrane

In A Word: Art

JAMIE HUTCHINGS PRESS

“Jamie Hutchings, one of the greatest Australian songwriters of any generation.” DB Magazine

“Aimless, stunted boy-men rarely look appealing when not in a Judd Apatow script. But in this song, there’s an undeniably attractive hue over the disappointment. As on the album, Avalon Cassettes, it sits in a blurry world between folk and jazz, child and adult—and yes, it can hurt.” LA Times

“Avalon Cassettes is a heartfelt ode to Australia, to family, friends, memory gained and lost – yet it culminates in the strongest statement yet that Jamie Hutchings is a national treasure – someone who embraces human interaction, notes their nuances and intricacies, and paints these pictures in careful, loving strokes.”
Time Off

“Avalon Cassettes is another stellar collection of pure and poetic Australiana songs that confirms Hutchings’ stature as a songwriter of the same quality and ilk as the likes of Dirty Three, Gareth Liddiard and Nick Cave.” Doubtful Sounds

“Jamie’s voice is both fragile, like a naïve teenager in love, and wise, like that uncle at a family gathering whom everyone gravitates toward…pretty soon I’m going to get sick of pressing the replay button.” The Dwarf

“It’s a feathery slice of Australia stalked by a looming shadow, at once as beautiful as it’s ever dark. Avalon Cassettes is a reminder of what’s been missed of Jamie Hutchings, a superb release by a prolific musician that isn’t just a highlight within his discography, but a highlight for Australian music.” Soulshine

“It just feels real so very human,an antidote to a Trump/Today Tonight/royal wedding world with its contrasting earthiness and sensitivity, its hint of the bucolic and its undisguised intellect and adherence to traditional forms. Think ‘Astral Weeks’ made by a boy who grew up much closer to the parks and the pubs of Sydney’s northern beaches than the backstreets of Belfast…there is no song which doesn’t leave you moved, slightly shifted in your own bubble in a way that can’t be quickly remedied. That’s a sign of a very fine songwriter, one of our best.” Sydney Morning Herald

“Jamie Hutchings has unveiled something special on his third solo outing. Avalon Cassettes is an alluring blend of Neil Young-inspired indie-folk and exploratory soundscapes. From the lone acoustic opening of Invisible Coat to the flute-tinged distortion of Cicada Symphony, Hutchings’ wavering, imperfect vocal brings a realness to his poetic tales of broken relationships, weary recollections and the Australian landscape.” Sunday Mail