Gas Lit, the latest record from the Australia-based drone duo Divide and Dissolve, provides a richly compelling sonic journey.
The duo says on the Bandcamp page for the album that their work “seeks to make a contribution to undermining and destroying the white supremacist colonial framework,” and this idea provides a poignant and powerful frame of reference for the largely lyric-less record. Only one track — “Did You Have Something To Do With It” — features lyrics in the form of a striking poem delivered by Minori Sanchiz-Fung, who says, at one point: “This is our time/ What is certain, is life/ Growing out of itself greater than the moment before/ Within us, around us, in spite of us.” This attention to the persistent power of life courses through Gas Lit.
Across Gas Lit, Divide and Dissolve alternate between elements including shimmering strings and shuddering guitars with heavy and rumbling distortion. When drums seem to rise in the mix amidst the stormy sheets of riffing, the music takes on a feeling like choppy seas, as though hanging onto the inside of a boat while a storm bears down. The duo’s heavy approach takes on somewhat of a very heavy psych-inflected resonance on “Prove It,” the album’s second track. The methodical riffing feels expansive, like a look across a horizon — or a sudden realization of the realities of certain overlooked social circumstances.
Although tracks like “Denial” and “Far From Ideal” highlight staggering and thunderous riffing, there’s a consistent and clearly established forward energy in the music, which never feels particularly chaotic. Utilizing their song construction as a tool, the duo seems to follow that line of energy through gentler moments and stormier maelstroms alike, as though charting a course of — as they mention — “destroying” white supremacy.
Capturing a feeling of inner strength amidst a stormy haze, the songs feel like music for the form of resistance that can be accomplished by the very act of living as someone who’s outside of damaging colonial power-centric frameworks. The music of Divide and Dissolve — whose slower tempos and methodical tone feel emotionally weighted — seems to acknowledge the tension of this precarious state while also illuminating the possibilities. The guiding energy at the core of Gas Lit sometimes feels unencumbered, but it is unmistakably powerful, no matter the particular physical intensity of the sound at a corresponding moment. The stark distorted guitars, of course, help solidify the force at the core of the record, amplifying a throughline of persistence that also washes across the gentler moments. This persistence feels deeply compelling.
Listen to Gas Lit below!