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EP Review: Fractures – Fractures

3 min read

At this point it’s kind of old-hat to say that Melbourne is Australia’s primary hotbed for new music. There’s something in the often-frosty southern air that lends itself to a kind of creativity that just isn’t present in other parts of the country – or for that matter, the world. The last few years have seen a seemingly endless parade of Melbournians conquering the globe from Courtney Barnett appearing on The Tonight Show to the effortlessness of Chet Faker’s meteoric rise and lest we forget the unprecedented success of Mr. Wally De Backer and Ms. Kimbra Johnson’s international heart/record breaking triumph of a couple of years back.

Fractures EPSo with all these Victorian glories unfolding left and right, you’d imagine that the well is bound to run dry soon, right? False. Enter 25-year-old Mark Zito aka. Fractures with his 8-track eponymous EP. With a couple of singles and remixes for the likes of Snakadaktal and Owl Eyes seeing the light of day over the past few years, Fractures wears influences like Radiohead, Bon Iver and Explosions in the Sky proudly on its sleeve in such a profoundly personal way to announce Zito’s arrival as a bona fide artist.

From the grainy synths, cautious guitar and Justin Vernon-ian wall of vocal layering that herald the beginning of opener Embers, Zito manages the incredible feat of sounding both refreshingly new and comfortingly nostalgic at the same time. Then with a stunning command of dynamic range, the song grows into a kaleidoscope of post-rock leaving you wondering what the hell just happened. And that’s just track one…

The Wurlitzer at the start of Cadence is bound to draw some Chet Faker comparisons, but with vocals as beautifully unguarded as Zito’s, there’s no mistaking this music for anyone else. Lead single Won’t Win harnesses a Kid A vibe with its muted Rhodes and glitch beats before mutating into shimmering guitars and massive drums reminiscent of one of the gnarlier jams that resulted in Californication back in the Chili Peppers’ heyday.

It’s Alright is a deliberately minimal piano song that builds and breathes in all the right places whereas Twisted – which first surfaced about a year ago – employs some pretty incredible telecaster tapestry and Amnesiac ambience to flank Zito’s remarkably familiar voice. Mortal sounds kind of like Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism but all the while oozes with a uniquely Australian sensibility and disarming honesty rarely heard nowadays.

Unwind ties everything together gorgeously before the bonus track Ghosts – a collaborative effort with one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets, low-end wizard Andrei Eremin – draws the set to a suitably atmospheric close. Eremin’s mits have been all over anything legitimately cool coming out of Melbourne of late (Producing/mixing/mastering for the likes of Rat & Co., Japanese Wallpaper and Closure in Moscow are just the tip of the iceberg) and his particular brand of textured bass-magic gels incredibly with the inimitable Fractures feel.

From start to finish, Fractures is an emotional investment, but one that you really can’t afford not to make. It may take a few listens to fully digest, both in how much is going on in the background of each song and the surgical precision of its emotion impact, but it’s one of the most unique releases of the year so far and deserves every micron of success it gets.