Boomkat Product Review:
Purely Physical Teeny Tapes excavate Aussie post-punks He Dark Age’s debut tape, originally issued in 1986 and absolutely impossible to find, now given a first ever vinyl edition destined to catch attention from Severed Heads, SPK and Pelican Daughters disciples.
Arriving on PPTT in the wake of aces by Laila Sakini & Lucy Van, Max Eilbacher, DJ Fitz and M. Quake, ‘Ecce Homo’ frolics in the scuzzy twilight of post-punk between 1983-1986 in and around Brisbane and Sydney, where He Dark Age’s Paul Newsome and Tony Millner forged a cranky and playfully janky style. They were part of a loose scene summed up on Efficient Space’s cherished ‘Oz Waves’ compilation, to which they contributed a highlight ‘Holding Out For Eden’, and explored a sound patently in thrall to some of Australia’s post-punk/post-industrial pioneers, with a possible clue to their name in SPK’s ‘Another Dark Age’ as well as a sampledelic wit no doubt inspired by Severed Heads, but also with a grubby oddness that recalls the gothic tint of Sydney’s cult properties, Pelican Daughters.
‘Ecce Homo’ (1986) remains a definitive testament to He Dark Age’s mid ’80s run, deploying a range of Korg MS10, Yamaha RX-11, a borrowed vocoder, guitars and bass in the years just prior to the advent of home computing. The original album’s 23 rough hewn but enchanting songs have been pruned back to 13 for this first reissue, from lissom new age in ‘I Have Come Back Deborah’ to the killer club banger on ‘Repent’, taking in American preacher Rex Humbard’s biblical declarations on ‘Jesus Didn’t Beat Him Over The Head’ and scalding EBM skronk on ‘The Book of Common Prayer’, tucking away their Oz Waves ace ‘Holding Out For Eden’, with their blend of gloaming noise and preacher samples in ‘The Master’ reminding of BMB’s ‘Hate Is Such a Strong Word.’ An idiosyncratic piece of the Australian underground music puzzle, Ecce Homo forms a unique DIY document from a part of the world that seems to have dominated our listening this last couple of years.