It’s ironic that the first track on Terminal Beach’s House EP is called Spectre – for they have appeared on the radar like a phantom. They are one of those bands that one gets to know and cherish intimately. They are the type of secret that every local music scene possesses and doesn’t want to give up. They give essentially nothing away about themselves online. A customary check of their lyrics on Bandcamp for example elicited precious little – each song relinquishing only one poetic line, purposefully it seems.
Here’s what we do know of Terminal Beach: the band is composed of brothers Rohin Best (Everything for Nothing) on guitar, and Louis Best (Burning Fiction) on bass. The pair have also played together in multiple bands over the years including Celebrator, Trails End and Deep West. They’re joined in this group by Andrew Atthowe (keys), Alex Fisher (drums), and Clare James (backing vocals).
Terminal Beach take their name from a collection of science-fiction short stories by J.G. Ballard, which the band have expressed none of them have ever actually read. It’s all elusive and mysterious and, in an over-saturated digital music world, admiringly so.
As the band put it themselves, “the dark magic of wireless technology has afforded us the opportunity to present to the world our first publicly available recordings.” House, the recording they speak of, is one that toes the line between soulful blues and slow rock, swinging rapidly at times from accurate precision to improvisatory expulsion.
The aforementioned opening song Spectre is pure wholehearted blues, vibrant and energetic, but can also lull one into a false sense of security. A Necklace of Fire follows with a tension-laden minimal arrangement, with unbearable teasing instrumentation. It builds supremely slowly, always threatening to unleash something huge. On a track like this, their form is reminiscent of slowcore, even the work of Perth’s own wonderful Bluetile Lounge (minus that band’s doomy vocals). Debts to Owe also operates similarly to begin with, as tentative keys set the scene before the loud blues guitar kicks in.
Rohin Best is a flexible vocal frontman. On Debts to Owe, he sings with the late-night sad grace of The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan. He can also showcase the growl and grit that Elbow’s Guy Garvey dominated the late noughties with during songs like Language of the Lamb.
Go On and Reward Yourself closes the EP on a sombre and downtempo note. The rhythm hums with a sublime eerie melancholy as Rohin Best’s voice breaks and soars.
Forget the lack of information, forgo the Google search, and instead take this last song’s title as an assertion: go on and reward yourself by listening to Terminal Beach’s dynamic and uncompromising experimentation on this impressive debut.