2020, and the scene is now: world in flames, deserts in permafrost, everyone in their own corners, looking down into their hands. Nothing in common. We can all see that the way it’s happening isn’t working, and for a lot of us, that’s okay, as long as it doesn’t rock our boat, we’ll cope. But for people who are invested in the future, any future – like Flat Worms – they’re out there, full time living, playing to change minds. And they’re not alone.
Antarctica is the third Flat Worms album in the past four years. It reflects a situation that’s dire, but not hopeless. Since the release of their 2017 debut LP—even since last year’s “Into the Iris” mini-LP—the sound of the trio has hardened, with the polarities of psych and postpunk smelted into a brutal cobalt alloy. No doubt they’re aided by the Steve Albini-engineered sound rendered at Electrical Audio, where the album was recorded and mixed (in collaboration with Steve Albini and Ty Segall) in six days.
The rest of the evolution is down to Flat Worms, whose world view and musical viewpoint pulse with a remorseless drive and a sense of collaborative unity. Will Ivy’s cortex-scorching guitar leads are in united space with the full-body rhythm of Tim Hellman’s bass and Justin Sullivan’s drums. Their social comment, bleak, yet earnest, is leavened with bone dry humor (the title track’s isolation conundrums: “My dog is smiling as I drive her to the park / we sit together in the kitchen after dark / I ask her questions / She just barks”) and caustic pronouncements; a vision of the chaotic, dysfunctional contemporary landscape that recalls the tragicomic expressions of 100 Flowers and the indefatigable recitations of The Fall. Commitment. Intention. Collaboration. And a sense that we’re meant to enjoy what we’re doing.
Even in the desert of Antarctica, Flat Worms are looking for the upside. Come join them!