Canadian electronic quartet Austra are quite unique in the way their beats are laid down and how their songs are written. Their debut album Feel It Break was embraced by critics and was shortlisted for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize; their second album Olympia was just as acclaimed, being long-listed for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize. Now the group is back with their new EP Habitat, their first release in over a year which is bound to excite like its predecessors.
Title track Habitat kicks things off, initially an atmosphere created by synths, keys and vocals comes across as other worldly; when the beat kicks in the track takes itself to new horizons on an intriguing journey. Doepfer is also an interesting track, although at first it didn’t seem like it would pick up beyond its introduction, it’s amazing how much the group pay attention to the detail of this track; the slightest change in sound makes all the difference in the world, however it still could have been so much more in terms of lift. Bass Drum Dance has a great beat going for it, the different parts that make up the track kept you from boredom; it would be nice to hear more from the group’s vocalist Katie Stelmanis though, Habitat is the only track thus far to feature her. Lastly, Hulluu is a bit of a creepy kind of a ritualistic song, Stelmanis’ repetitive whispers of “I took your microphone/It’s in the river” sends chills up your spine and the beat of the bass moves through your body.
The Habitat EP is a good, yet subtle release from the renowned Austra; the group really know their way around the genre of electronic music, but it felt like there was something missing. Upon hearing the initial track you would expect to hear more of Katie’s vocals throughout the EP, but it was not to be; maybe the group decided to primarily focus on the instrumentation of the tracks for this particular release, which in that case would be a respectable move. It would be interesting to hear where Austra will go from their Habitat EP.