HTRK ⟡ YL Hooi

Igreja St. George

© Josh Hourigan


Born in the rock fervor of the beginning of the century, HTRK (read “Hate Rock”) emerged in 2003 from Melbourne, Australia, with that tasty adoption of the boundlessness of the no-wave that many bands were inspired by at the time. They were noise, rock, industrial, but they were, above all, a band disconnected and stripped of genres to deal with the usefulness of sound as a communication tool. In 2010, the suicide of bassist Sean Stewart left the two remaining members, Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang, destitute.

Since then, they have been groping their sound. Not as a process of discovery, but of healing, of how to occupy the void and locate the intensity. Naturally, they have slowed down, finding ways to build and build melodies in songs where Fleetwood Mac, Galaxie 500 and the Low from “I Could Live In Hope” fit. However, the references are to situate, HTRK’s current sound is not all about that, partly because the sensations heard in Jonnine’s voice are often unpredictable while Nigel Yang’s guitar levitates through the shadows. Evolution over the past decade has taken them there, evidenced by two brilliant albums, “Venus In Leo” (Ghostly International) and “Rhinestones” (N&J Blueberries), one of the best realizations in recent times about not knowing how to wake up.

Getting here is work. Since they have been a duo, HTRK have been cutting the excesses to their sound and reducing the creation of their melodies to the essentials. In doing so, they have exposed Jonnine’s voice to a reunion with the 4AD of the 1980s, without the superfluous production, just the real idea of constant loneliness. Yang’s guitar protects it, never sounding fragile or vulnerable, just something that exists as it is, sounds like what it has to sound like. By becoming progressively and consciously more stripped down, HTRK have become resilient, protected, and owners of a sensibility that is in short supply in the rock/guitar milieus of the present. To hear them with “Rhinestones” in their baggage is a privilege. AS

YL Hooi

YL Hooi is the project of Valya Ying-Li Hooi, inhabiting a subtle and mysterious realm of furtive, dubbed-out song, sparse electronic percussion, and distant winds. Active in the Melbourne underground scene since 2017, Hooi is a member of Kallista Kult (with Sam Karmel and Tarquin Manek) and has recorded and performed with artists including Jonnine Standish (HTRK), Jarrod Zlatic (Fabulous Diamonds) and Rohan Rebeiro (My Disco). Her debut album Untitled (first released on cassette by Altered States Tapes in 2019 and reissued on LP by Efficient Space in 2021) was widely praised, finding a spot on many year end lists including the number 1 spot on Boomkat’s Discoveries list and being described by Boomkat as ‘an immaculately frayed conception of dubwise dream-pop’. Moving seamlessly from angelic song to gritty tape gunk, Hooi’s work opens onto a multitude of genres and directions while retaining a distinctly personal stamp through her obsessively zoned-out dub production tactics. ‘These are songs that seem to emerge in plumes of smoke, magician’s tricks conjured from the ether’ (World of Echo).

Both live and in the studio, Hooi’s work is produced in close collaboration with Tarquin Manek (known for his eponymous solo work on Blackest Ever Black, as well as a swathe of aliases including LST and Static Cleaner Lost Reward, and membership of groups including Kallista Kult and F ingers). In the live setting, the pair use voice, trumpet, bass clarinet, guitar, bass, drum machines and synths to reimagine the carefully produced studio material anew for each performance, keenly aware of improvisational possibilities and the vicissitudes of audience, venue, and acoustic space. Touching on the fringes of many genres and traditions – post-punk, minimal synth, dub, krautrock – Hooi’s protean music is haunted and seductive, her voice trailing off into an echoed infinity anchored to body-shaking foundations.

Next Events

I accept
By using this website you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.