On this reissue of Division Four’s 1983 cassette demo, dual bass players, a synth and a flange pedal create murky backings to the sinister thoughts of a Perth band left forgotten for thirty years. It can sound alien to its time and place, but there are landmarks. The vocals are filtered through Perth’s freely-settled colonial voicing, and overtones of forced UK post-punk swagger are ever-present. Every well rounded lyric has a snarl leering around the back of it, and the effect of the record overall is much the same: this is immaculately butchered flesh that’s been minced joylessly and efficiently.
Division Four concern(ed) themselves with timeless aspects of modern society. Over six tracks, the characters who haven’t fled the dying city of Perth 1983 remain to poke fun at the tabloids, stalk ex’s and fuck strangers for smack money. Cops are horrified by the sights of their work; Azaria Chamberlain’s ghost is mocked three years after it was spirited in 1980; a girl closes her eyes and holds out her hand; a man relentlessly searches the streets for who he believes to be his runaway bride; and an underground civilisation clutches for converts from society’s warm touch. It’s perverse.
The record chokes under tailor-made affronts that, from dehumanised relationships to severed clitorises, are fucked up and discomforting. Down-trodden warbles soundtrack the line, “Open your wallet and I’ll open my legs / Fuck me ‘til you’re broke,” while a jaunty synth line dances over the stalker’s anthem ‘I Was Walking’ Elsewhere, jabbing synths and dirty-sink basslines round out a record that envelopes and attacks without ever resorting to something as simple as brutality to get its kicks.
As far as I know, this reissue is all that’s been preserved of Division Four. It’s satisfying in the same way that finding a 20-year old couch within dragging distance of your sharehouse is, but it’s not like it’s a vital or illuminating artifact. I like it because it doesn’t necessarily feel like it came from 1983 or from Perth specifically, and maybe it’s that (alongside its own inherent qualities as a truly disturbed and entertaining record) that justifies its existence as a document.
DIvision Four’s 12 inch is available through Smartguy Records. It’s available in Australia through Distort.