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Live Reviews : We Lost the Sea, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving @ Howler, Melbourne 30/11/2019

By on December 1, 2019

Instrumental rock music is an acquired taste, especially when it’s the eclectic and less accessible style pushed by these two masterful Aussie acts. But when you acquire that taste, there’s no going back, it hooks you in and holds you for life.

And that hold is certainly growing too, slowly but surely, and tonight is more evidence of that. Howler is one of the larger of the more intimate live music venues around Melbourne, and tonight it is packed solid with expectant punters craving the non-vocal spell weaved by Sydney’s We Lost the Sea and Perth’s Tangled Thoughts of Leaving. Tangled take the stage first, their sometimes wildly frenetic, sometimes mystifyingly atmospheric, electric piano-driven sound almost formless at times, but always compelling, always moving. The wondrous transcendent soundscapes their music creates really are something to behold, and it all flows out of four people with obviously absolute commitment to their cause.

That there are only the two bands playing tonight is actually advantageous, as even the opener gets a good solid amount of time to wind out and allow their spacious music to breathe and to take hold. Tangled create a musical web to get caught in, an ebbing and flowing ocean of sound in which to lose yourself, and that just can’t be done on 30 minutes.

We Lost the Sea are just slightly more straightforward in approach than Tangled, but every bit as riveting. Tonight is their night, being that it is their album launch tour, and their set winds out beyond the 90 minute mark, much to the delight of the throng of post-rock aficionados in the house tonight. The sound is just a little more raw, the walls of guitars creating a six-string symphony that sits directly in your face and alternatively blasts and soothes the senses with sound. That familiar light and shade, that almost excruciating building of tension before the eventual payoff finally comes is a feature of this band’s sound as well. And when it does come, the band pound the same musical motif repeatedly for seemingly minutes on end without it ever becoming monotonous.

This band’s tunes tell a story without words, that is until the last two songs of the night when they bring a vocalist up onstage, at which point We Lost the Sea morph completely from an ambient post rock instrumental concern to a bludgeoning doomy stoner rock outfit. And in typical fashion, they manage to somehow make it work a treat.

Tonight is an almost otherworldly experience, and yet more evidence of the sheer quality of Australian alternative/instrumental/experimental music, and the huge crowd laps up every idiosyncratic moment.


Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.