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WESTRALIANA

The Kill Devil Hills
The Kill Devil Hills

THE KILL DEVIL HILLS
MATANGO!

Depending on your perspective, the Eyre Highway is the road either in or out of Western Australia. It’s 1,664 kilometres of bitumen and sheer distance that divides west from the east. Not even the ubiquity of plane travel has managed to reconnect the cultural fractures caused by our isolation. Over in the west, we’ll always be unique, different, worthy of ignoring, ignorant even. But, if you take your eye off something for long enough it’ll come back to bite you, often in the most surprising of ways.

At times, MATANGO! is not an easy listen, but it’s always compelling, always calling you back, always shoving something new in your face…

This isolation is what made The Kill Devil Hills possible. They’re not alone, they’re part of a lineage of Western Australian creativity that encompasses the desert acid dreamings of painters like Robert Juniper, the penetrating urgency of authors like Archie Weller and the musical expanses of bands like The Triffids. And that’s not even mentioning the 60,000+ years of culture and tradition more recent Western Australian artists have stolen from, appropriated and, more recently, started to embrace.

These artists all have something in common, they’re uniquely Western Australian. While they are accessible to wider Australian and international audiences, they couldn’t be from anywhere but here. Their subject matter is expressly about this part of the world and their way of expressing it is, as the inventor of Grunge, Kim Salmon, observed, nine parts water, one part sand, amongst other things.

I say artists, because The Kills Devil Hills, as well as being one of WA’s greatest musical exports, derive that greatness — the danger in their live performances and the endless layering and inventiveness of their recorded output — from being first and foremost artists. Brendon Humphries, The Kill Devils Hills’ vocalist, guitarist and lyricist, writes directly from his observational perspective and works with the rest of the band to smudge it over just enough so we can kind of see it, but have to make up our own minds. And they do it with all the restraint, economy and surprising detail of a daguerreotype, presenting us with what appears to be monochrome, but then bursts into colour the moment we settle in, let go and listen.

The Kill Devil Hills’ latest album, MATANGO!, is quintessentially Western Australian. From the bastardised Gregorian chant of ‘Survivor Guilt’, through the death disco of ‘This Is Karrakatta’ and on into expansive landscapes and distorted creatures of fever dreams, the music is eclectic. On MATANGO!, The Kill Devil Hills borrow from folk, rock, Americana, noise, anything they please, to create their dystopian dialectic of inexorable isolation.

At times, MATANGO! is not an easy listen, but it’s always compelling, always calling you back, always shoving something new in your face, or whipping it from the periphery of your vision leaving you wondering what it was you were just listening to. Easy is exactly that, anyway, and there’s definitely nothing bland or comfortable about MATANGO!

With MATANGO!, The Kill Devil Hills have created a Western Australian album for the ages, the next platelet in the bloodline of what should rightly be known as Westraliana. They’ve thrown down and, while they go through the ejaculations and snorting spasms of release, launch, gigs and then disappearing to see if they can do it all over again, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, from Western Australia is capable of picking up.

MATANGO! Due out worldwide on 6 March 2024

MATANGO! is released 6 March 2024.
The Kill Devil Hills launch MATANGO! on 8 March at Freo.Social, Get tickets here.

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