Melbourne Post-Punk Outfit Bitumen Summons the Spirit of Dreamy Early 90s Alt Rock on “Cleareye Shining”

Australian post-punk quartet Bitumen are due to release their savage sophomore LP, Cleareye Shining on vinyl via Heavy Machinery as part of the Flash Forward series. Combining samples, electronic drums, and alternatively confrontational and melancholic vocals, their signature driving, metallic barrage is aggrandized by dramatic synths and acoustic guitar.

Most of the songs on Cleareye Shining were gestating in their early stages of development when the pandemic hit, forcing the band to bring them into maturity in the studio. Honing the material they assembled into nine distinct songs, each with its own atmosphere, character, personality, and internal logic, Bitumen utilized precision in their craft and excised restraint with their sonic experimentation. The result is described as “80s maximalism meets 90s industrial-electro. Robocop Meets Basic Instinct“. A colourful description for music that to our ears, sounds like that sweet spot in post-punk and goth-tinged alternative rock that you will find from bands like Curve and Medicine.

Photo: Stephen Patrick

Indeed, Bitumen’s effervescent vocals, plucked from the same ether as artists such as Lush, Kim Deal, and Portishead, are in stark contrast to the urgent guitar licks that are reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and Gang of Four. These songs are bursting with energy, passion, and pure early-90s nostalgia. You can hear this, particularly in the track “Out of Athens, which features an accompanying lo-fi karaoke video directed by Josh Watson. There is a DIY punk spirit to Bitumen that pops through; an authenticity and earnestness shines from their performances.

“Paint and Draw” takes a more cinematic narrative approach in this video – David Lynch edging on Miami Vice. Directed by Kate Binning, and featuring actor Sam Varney, the sultry song serves as a soundtrack for an enigmatic nighttime mystery. A man receives directions at a call box and immediately takes off speeding through the dark streets. He later meets a woman in a white coat who asks…”Ever wanted to paint and draw?”

Since debuting in 2016, the band have garnered a reputation for intense live performances, leading to invitations to play alongside the likes of Peter Murphy, The Chameleons, and Drab Majesty, as well as performances at festivals including Dark Mofo, Country Daze, and Brunswick Music Festival.

Cleareye Shining, available now digitally, will also be available as a limited edition vinyl LP and CD in early 2022.

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Alice Teeple

Alice Teeple is a photographer, multidisciplinary artist, and writer. She is not in Tin Machine.

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