Music / Premieres
Alphington - Atlas/Red Ribbons
Words and interview by Francis Tait
Monday 21st January, 2019
Before the launch this Wednesday night, we have the honour of sharing the debut release from new project Alphington — Atlas/Red Ribbons are two complementary bursts of unpredictable art-pop and the first taste of the impeding album Rabbit Legs and Dead Boys.
Beginning the double A-side, ‘Atlas’ is a sprawling, minimalist anti-pop song that revolves around Alif Dodds’ captivating vocal style. Built upon a bed of glitchy keyboard drones, sparse guitars and Rama Parwata’s characteristically chaotic drumming, ‘Atlas’ is an otherworldly and hypnotic slice of art-pop that is just as nice to relax to as it is to listen along intriguing.

As second single ‘Red Ribbons’ emerges from the rubble of the previous track with its stark vocals above subtle guitar and bass - juxtaposing the anarchy of ‘Atlas’ beautifully - Alphington show off their versatility and sweet pop prowess, as they easily manage to squeeze pretty melodies, delicately arranged instrumentation and plenty of charm into the track's two-and-a-half minute runtime.

While ‘Red Ribbons’ in some regards sounds miles away from ‘Atlas’, the differences between the 'Atlas/Red Ribbons' combo compliment each other perfectly and both sound distinctively Alphington. The result is like lemon on an eggplant schnitzel or a shot of rum into a hot chocolate.

We got in touch with Alif from Alphington to talk us through the new project and new release.
TJ: Hey Alif! For those who haven’t come across it before, tell us a bit about the new project.

A: Hi hi hello! Alphington is an indie-pop band that toys with that distinction liberally, borrowing from chamber music, experimental music, all sorts of other... 'things', to add depth to these little pieces. It is creatively directed by me and features the assistance of collaborators such as Jules Pascoe, who has worked with countless Melbourne acts, and Angus Leslie, most notably the frontman of Sex on Toast.

Congrats on the new singles! What has inspired ‘Altas' and 'Red Ribbons’? Why release the two of them together?

'Atlas' is a reflection on the nature of childbirth - observing it not from a cultural, but a cold, distanced and biological standpoint. I am not a woman and don't claim to know the extent of natal experiences, but I can only assume it'd be a great big loving bleeding mess. The drumming is influenced by Indonesian Gamelan percussion. 'Red Ribbons' is also a threnody on childbirth - well, more on child-rearing. I am preoccupied by childhood and the corruption of innocence. Blame my Henry Darger obsession and preoccupation with the glockenspiel. 

Ruby McKenna’s art is really great too. How’d that marriage happen?

Ahaha. Ruby McKenna is a good friend, a very close, incredibly close best friend who's work I think speaks for itself. She does not need nor require my music to promote her art, and has great things ahead of her. She is preoccupied with feminist and maternal themes, and this I think is the common tie between my music and her work: warm, fleshy, erotic but also at times arctic and sexless and cold. She did a painting of me once that was incredible in it's accuracy; not of features, but of personality. 

For a band who’ve only released a handful of songs, Alphington already has tons of character and direction. Is that something you’ve spent a lot of time working towards?

Yes yes and yes. Me and Jules Pascoe spent most of our studio time discussing themes and recurring elements that would re-surface again and again within these pieces, though so much is a process of accident and error as well. We knew we wanted to have a sound-lyric relationship; hence the glockenspiel, the very campfire singalong-y acoustic guitar, and the terrifying electronics and percussion.  The band name is derived from the suburb of Alphington, which is a pun on my name, but also reinstates our commitment to making 'Australian' music that sounds dignified and reserved.

’Atlas' and 'Red Ribbons’ are both off Alphington's upcoming debut album Rabbit Legs and Dead Boys. Can you let any secrets slip about that one?

If only. It is a 10 song collection that is at times beautiful and at times deeply terrifying. It features lots of harmonies and an absolutely ridiculous amount of glockenspiel, which was wholly my idea and advised against throughout the entire process. It is a narrative record though not a concept album - I have my reservations about that title. It should hopefully be out by, whenever labels give a damn about it.

What else does 2019 have in store for Alphington?

Following this launch comes possibly a video for another song on the record; I will probably spend too much of my own money on this video. Possible interstate dates abound but nothing is set in stone, which is a fun and also incredibly scary place to be. I'd like this band to sound like that. Fun, but incredibly scary. Like a roller coaster on a fairground.

Check out 'Atlas' and 'Red Ribbons' with the bonus B-side 'Blue Bedrooms' above, and catch Alphington launching the double A-side this Wednesday at the Gasometer Hotel.