Review | Austra

Austra
Rating:

Austra, Future Politics, Domino

It was entirely coincidental that the Canadian recording project Austra released their third long-player dealing with radical solutions to conquer dystopian malaise on the same day as Trump’s inauguration. ‘Future Politics’ calls for radical hope during bleak times. “Not just hope in the future, but the idea that everyone is required to help write it, and the boundaries of what it can look like are both fascinating and endless. It’s not about ‘being political,’ it’s about reaching beyond boundaries, in every single field,” group leader Katie Stelmanis (vocalist, producer) – with the support of Maya Postepski (Princess Century, TR/ST), Dorian Wolf, and Ryan Wonsiakhas explained. She spent the past several years dividing her time between Montreal and Mexico City, placing herself in the position of outside observer while immersing herself in, to name a few, the Accelerationist Manifesto as well as Marge Piercy’s “Woman on the Edge of Time”.

Stelmanis’s voice skips over glacial beats on opening track, ‘We Were Alive’. “Waking up I’ve got somewhere to go I’m making sweat for,” she croons in a contemplation about showing up for life in an album that is so much about that very subject, most importantly, how to rethink what we have come to define as “life”, as well as embracing the radical possibilities of a technologically enhanced utopia that exists beyond systems of capitalist governance. “Doctor, what’s the cure for apathy?” she trills, leading the listener on a digitally enhanced journey focused on a trajectory away from misery.

Austra’s sound and scope has been on a vertical skyrocket since even before their debut album “Feel It Break” was released in 2011, the group seemed so full of ideas they were on to the next before the first was even finished. Title track ‘Future Politics’ demonstrates their diligent efforts at refining their sound, resulting in an addictive, churning electronic dancetopia that is a perfect marriage of dance and protest music. “I’m not a coward like them, I don’t need no money,” Stelmanis declares in the most defiant statement you can make in this day-and-age, one that defies the concept of money.

In the most succulent lyrics of the album, she says: “cut me a slice of the apple that I grow, my work is valid I can’t prove it but I know.” Both powerful and prescient, the driving track is inspirational to the core, validating whatever mission you are on in order to achieve that which you hold dear.

The main strength of the album firmly rests on the first three songs whose presence are so pivotally defining and exciting, so rich with complex ideas and imagination, that the rest of the album works as a sort of digestive meditation that pulls apart the main themes in order to fully examine their glistening potential.

Both Katie and Maya have made significant forays into deep house and trance with their respective side projects, which “Future Politics” is reflective of. Austra’s 2014 gem of an EP, “Habitat” revealed their developing engagement with experimental electronica, and can be found on display in ‘Freepower’ and the urgent ecofeminist anthem, ‘Gaia’.

As the globe shifts its axis to a potentially more ominous future, Austra has extended a welcoming embrace that together, with all our shared creativity and active engagement, we can all begin creating a hopeful future that we all want to live together in.

Megan Beard

Catch Austra on tour:

21 Jan Montreal, Canada

22 Jan Quebec, Canada

24 Jan Cambridge, MA

26 Jan Brooklyn, NY

27 Jan Philadelphia, PA

28 Jan Washington, DC

29 Jan Durham, NC

39 Jan Nashville, TN

1 Feb Atlanta, GA

2 Feb New Orleans, LA

3 Feb Dallas, TX

4 Feb Austin, TX

5 Feb El Paso, TX

7 Feb Phoenix, AZ

8 Feb San Diego, CA

9 Feb Los Angeles, CA

11 Feb San Francisco, CA

13 Feb Portland, OR

14 Feb Seattle, WA

17 Feb Minneapolis, MN

18 Feb Chicago, IL

19 Feb Detroit, MI

4 March Amsterdam, Netherlands

6 March Hamburg, Germany

7 March Warsaw, Poland

8 March Berlin, Germany

9 March Munich, Germany

10 March Leipzig, Germany

11 March Linz, Germany

12 March Vienna, Austria

15 March Milan, Italy

16 March Lausanne, Switzerland

17 March Bern, Switzerland

18 March Cologne, Germany

21 March Brighton, UK

22 March London, UK

23 March Edinburgh, UK

24 March Manchester, UK

25 March Dublin, Ireland

28 March Tourcoing, France

29 March Metz, France

31 March Paris, France

1 April Toulouse, France

5 April La Coruna, Spain

6 April Madrid, Spain

7 April Valencia, Spain

8 April Barcelona, Spain

11 April Zurich, Switzerland

11 April Feyzin, France

13 April La Rochelle, France

16 April Brussels, Belgium

 

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