There is some nice instrumentation touches here too with cello (Tahiti Jones), pedal steel (Danny Widdicombe), double bass (Melissa ‘Curly’ Hunt), violin/melotron (Amanda Brown – GO BETWEENS), percussion (Luke Peacock) and organ (Whitey White) fleshing out the core band of Paterson, Silbersher, accordionist Les Dorahy and drummer Brock Fitzgerald. During the recordings, a good friend of the band, Australian rock legend Spencer P. Jones sadly departed. One of his melodies and lyric was dovetailed to a Paterson instrumental and Ode to Death Trip became an emotional tribute to mark his passing. A couple of other covers appear on the album. There is a surprising, acoustic rendition of Motörhead’s Deaf Forever and a version of John Sebastian’s Darlin’ Be Home Soon. This last is a relic from 2007 when following a hard-drive meltdown at Nashuaville, the only remaining recording of a late night jam was an unedited headphone mix. It seems though, it was impossible to exclude this from the collection.
There’s still enough of the spacious Australian land- and seascapes to satisfy fans of the previous Headland albums (sound/track 2013, Cosy 2015, True Flowers from this Painted World 2017), journeys through a sonic architecture centred around the motion of the ocean and it’s meeting with the coastline. But a narrative of loss and longing sits on the surface here: Silbersher’s voicing is an emotive thread that breaches at all the right times. There are references to the likes of Alex Chilton, Nick Drake and Daniel Lanois but Christian Pyle (Prawn & Spanner Studio) brings a sensitivity to the mix so that any references float rather than reveal themselves in bold relief. What Rough Beast marks the development of an ensemble and documents a sense of meaning embedded with the tone of place.