Agent: Michael Lojudice
Territory: North America / Asia
Label: Mute

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“My goal was to create something beyond my abilities,” says Liars’ Angus Andrew. “Something bigger than just myself.”

Given that the last albums, TFCF and Titles with the Word Fountain, were both distinctly solo affairs, Angus wanted to expand Liars’ 10th album. “I was keen on being collaborative,” he says. “I wanted to return to a recording studio and utilise it as an instrument, not only acoustically, but collaboratively as a space for guided experimentation and song development. There's a limit to the scope of what I can create on my own from where I live, in the bush, on a computer.”

Angus invited along the avant-garde jazz drummer Laurence Pike and multi-instrumentalist Cameron Deyell, who had played with Liars during the Australian leg of the TFCF tour. “They are incredible musicians,” enthuses Angus. “I was salivating at what I could get these guys to put on tape and grab from them so I could run away and figure it out.”

This mixing of raw, organic live instrumentation in the studio, along with Angus’s solo tinkering at the computer, results in an album that blurs boundaries between the archetypal band structure and experimental electronics. “Constructing these songs felt akin to dragging them through a wormhole,” he says. “I’d stretch and transform the studio sounds in the computer, pushing patterns and melodies through filters and sequencers, experimenting with probability based algorithms.”

“Despite recording predominantly live instruments, the computer is still the most powerful and dominant element in the work, allowing the songs to travel away from me - toward AI - and back again. Momentum and revolution were themes I wanted to explore, to give the listener this sense of transformation and to feel like you were being transported through the wormhole.”

The genesis for Angus wanting to collaborate more came from his exposure to a community of young musicians in Australia. “In 2019 I was honoured with an invitation to judge the Australian Music Prize,” he recalls. “For the first time in my life I dedicated time to listening to new music. Up until then I mostly abstained for fear of having my own ideas influenced. I connected with the idea of a musical community and became a champion of underground experimental Australian artists.”

This was a unique feeling for Angus given Liars’ trajectory. For the last 20 years, the band has eschewed genre and defied categorisation, instead staying resolutely in their own lane with little interest in what was going on around them. “The musical community concept has never been something I was interested in,” he says. “Even when we began in New York, I just never wanted to be part of anything. We were trying to make our own world, and not be lumped in with other people.”

“But it’s nice to have gone from the last really insular project and allowing it to open up to other people's skills. Or maybe it's getting older and realising that you're not the best at doing all the bits.”

The result, like all Liars albums, is one that feels distinctly and recognisably of their oeuvre, yet also fresh and singular. Angus’s voice drifts from a resonant growl into soft and dreamy melodies, as rich textures overlap with engulfing ambience, before giving way to eruptive blasts of noise, crackling electronics and thrashing drums.

Much like the band’s pivotal 2006 album Drums Not Dead, this is notably drum-heavy, although the tone and style is vastly different. “Drum sounds were really my ultimate focus,” he says of those initial days in the studio with Pike and Deyell. “There were some ideas that could only work with the right acoustics, like techniques for effecting the kit that were used on past records like They Were Wrong, So We Drowned and Sisterworld. I wanted to try and build a sonic through line with the drums.”

This referencing of previous albums is something of a first for Liars but, true to form, it’s rooted in progression and expansion more than nostalgia or repetition. For Angus, this album comes from a personal place of realignment and reconfiguration that has resulted in him doing the same with the output of Liars. “Since Liars’ first album I’ve been taking SSRIs to deal with anxiety,” he says. “I’d tried to get off these over the years but it wasn’t until working on The Apple Drop that I discovered the unique ability of psilocybin to disrupt the normal communication networks in the brain.”

“This helped me gradually remove myself from the overpowering chemical dependency I’d endured since I began making music. I realised I was developing a musical document to my brain’s re-mapping of its neural patterns. It felt like a voyage and I began to see The Apple Drop as simultaneously a point of departure and of arrival. ”

This mind exploration and re-mapping resulted in Angus really thinking about Liars’ body of work. “It was the first time ever I felt I’ve needed to understand where this catalogue goes and what sense I can make of it,” he says. “I've always felt like you just move on and it has never mattered to me what I left behind because there's always the next project. So I wanted to try and understand a bit. That's not a super easy thing for me to do but I thought it was important at this stage to connect the dots.”

So The Apple Drop exists as a bridge between the past and the future of Liars. Characters from previous albums appear here, as do seeds of old songs that never previously flowered. “For ‘King of the Crooks’ I had the riff and vocal idea from back in the Drums Not Dead era but I could never develop it or figure it out,” Angus says. Similarly, ‘Slow and Turn Inward’ was from the ...Drowned sessions.

An old familiar character also makes a return on this album. “Mt. Heart Attack played a huge role in this record,” Angus says, referring to the character from 2006’s The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack. “It’s been omnipresent throughout Liars’ catalogue. It’s the embodiment of crippling anxiety - locked in your own unease - always nervous, always afraid. Examining this character's existence within the context of The Apple Drop was always going to be a central concern. We chose to introduce this protagonist to a deity/partner in ‘Star Search’. She gives him the courage to see things as they really are - to swallow your fears by coming to terms with them.”

‘Star Search’ - a track that melds gentle piano, potently stark drums, a swaying vocal, and cinematic bursts of glistening electronics - was written with his wife Mary Pearson Andrew who collaborated throughout the record. “Following my goal to push the work beyond the scope of my own abilities, I asked Mary to collaborate on the lyrics,” he says. “I saw the potential for our intertwining of words, especially the immense value of incorporating a female perspective.”

“Throughout Liars’ history I have consistently tried to develop new methods of creating music,” Angus says. “On each project I’ve essentially abandoned previous methods and attempted to instead learn different ways of writing and producing songs. Where once I perceived this journey as a straight line, I’m increasingly realising my trajectory is more akin to a spiral. As new ideas are generated, older ones take on new meaning and evolve further. Characters from past albums re-emerge with something new to say.”

There are not many bands that could make looking to the past feel futuristic but here Liars have managed to create an entirely new world - sonically, thematically and lyrically - by doing just that.