Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] EG review of Capricornia

Peter Horbury phwruvic@vicnet.net.au
Fri, 1 Mar 2002 09:43:13 +1100

Presuming no-one else has sent this in (I'm on digest so...) this weeks
"Feature Album" (& appropriately so I should say!) is Capricornia!
[Note, this is copied straight, I take no responsibility for the
somewhat iffy grammar & syntax. I have used initials where their
powderappropriate]. 'EG' is the entertainment section from the Melbourne
'Age'. Review by Craig Mathieson:

It's been 24 years since MO released their self-titled debut album, and
since then they've evolved from being a band that railed against various
edifices to being regarded as one. Becoming an institution as a band -
see the Rolling Stones or AC/DC - is generally the first step towards
being trapped in an artistic cul-de-sac, and it's this struggle that has
marked the band's recent visits to the studio. "Breathe" (1996) was
organic and impressionistic , while 1998's RW was a full-tilt spray of
politics , riffs and electronic effects. Capricornia, the 11th studio
album , exists in the comfortable middle ground between these two
divergent approaches , spotlighting a band coming to terms with their
changed circumstances, and writing with renewed confidence. With British
producer Warne Livesey, who in the late 80s oversaw their international
successes, D&D & BSM, back on board, Capricornia draws sparks from the
guitars of Martin Rotsey & Jim Moginie. The pair, whose sense of
interplay has long been second nature, spike up the tunes, be it on the
relentlessly melodic opener Golden Age or the taut, tensile Too Much
Sunshine. MO sound as if they've stopped worry about their relevance in
the post-grunge order & decided to enjoy the song-writing process. On
the wordy Tone Poem, a succession of rippling guitar lines undercuts the
lyrics, stretching it out and opening the arrangement until it feels
like a jangling '60s pop epic. A sense of musical space suits the
gradual reinvention of their lyrics, a process that comes to fruition on
Capricornia. MO were renowned for the urban distress they once
documented. They sang about business deals in parking lots, the stench
of petrol fumes palatable. The passing of time has taken them into the
hinterland, and the view out the window has changed0 "I can see a purple
patch of jacaranda", sings PG on Golden Age. But if their blunt lyrical
poetry has been usurped by a more mystical connection to the land, there
are still more than enough moments on Capricornia - such as Mosquito
March - when the weight of their history falls away and an exciting ,
assured band is revealed. With the exception of the odd misfire such as
Poets and Slaves, the cul-de-sac has been avoided.